Macau’s casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the first 15 days of February was a case of “so far, so bad, as expected”, with visitor numbers “dismal”, said a Tuesday note from JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd.
Separately, a memo the same day from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd stated: “Macau GGR declined during the second week of February and the beginning of the Lunar New Year, with travel from China continuing to drop due to rising Covid[-19] contagion in the country.”
Mainland China is currently the only place to have a largely quarantine-free travel bubble with Macau.
Both institutions estimated Macau casino GGR for the first 15 days of the month had been MOP3 billion (US$375.7 million), i.e., an average daily rate of MOP200 million per day.
JP Morgan analysts DS Kim and Derek Choi observed: “This implies last week’s run-rate… unsurprisingly, slowed to approximately MOP190 million per day as it captures a lull period of Chinese New Year: pre-holiday slowdown, plus the first three days of the spring festival, where Chinese spend time with family/friends.”
China’s State Council had designated this year’s holiday period as running inclusively from February 11, a Thursday – the eve of Chinese New Year – to February 17, a Wednesday.
Data from Macau’s Public Security Police Force, the agency responsible for controlling the city’s entry points, indicated that for the first five days of the Chinese New Year holiday from February 11 to February 15 inclusive, the tally of visitors was 62,984, i.e., down 71.6 percent relative to the 2020 holiday.
That made the 2021 daily average for the first five days, 12,597 arrivals. The highest daily tally up to that point was the fourth day, with 17,357.
Sanford Bernstein analysts Vitaly Umansky and Tianjiao Yu estimated from their “channel checks”, that the month-to-date average daily rate of GGR was down 78 percent year-on-year. In 2020, Chinese New Year had fallen on January 25.
Additionally, month-to-date daily GGR was down 23 percent compared to this January.
JP Morgan stated on Tuesday: “We’d hope to see a meaningful uptick for the coming week’s data… but visibility remains extremely low amidst ongoing travel curbs and it wouldn’t really move the needle for investment sentiment anyway, in our view.”
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Chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands