Macau’s casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the first 20 days of February was only 35 percent of that in February 2019, estimates a Monday note from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd.
In 2019, Chinese New Year – in pre-pandemic times a festival that has been a busy trading period for Macau casinos – occurred on February 5. This time, the lunar new year was on February 1.
“Channel checks” indicated that Macau’s GGR for February 1 to 20 this time, was MOP6.3 billion (US$784.0 million), with a month-to-date average daily rate of MOP315 million, “down 65 percent compared to the February 2019 average daily rate of MOP906 million,” wrote analyst Vitaly Umansky.
GGR for February 14 to 20 this year was judged to be down 57 percent week-on-week, due to “seasonality post Chinese New Year holiday,” said the memo.
The performance so far in February was however still up 21 percent on February 2021’s average daily rate of MOP261 million, added the brokerage.
Referring to ongoing testing protocols and other restrictions on inbound travel to Macau, as Covid-19 countermeasures, Mr Umansky observed, regarding a major sporting event recently hosted in Beijing: “The Winter Olympics ended on Sunday (February 20), and there are hopes that China may slightly relax travel policy post-Olympics – but we do not see any near-term positive developments.”
Mainland China is currently the only place to have a largely quarantine-free travel arrangement with Macau.
This February, the average daily rate for Macau’s VIP GGR was so far up 70 percent on January’s, estimated the institution.
But Mr Umansky noted that “VIP had already been down 50 percent month-on-month in January 2022, and [down] 45 percent in December 2021, with below-normal hold rate.”
Collaboration between Macau casino operators and government-licensed VIP gaming promoters – also known as junkets, and traditionally a source of much of Macau’s high-roller play – has mostly been suspended for now, according to various statements by the city’s casino operators. That has coincided with casinos freshly taking on high-roller players as directly-managed customers, according to some investment analysts, citing management commentary.
Sanford Bernstein estimated that up to February 20, the month’s daily mass GGR in the Macau market had been up 50 percent compared to January’s.
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