Four more casinos in Macau have resumed operations on Monday, the city’s gaming regulator confirmed to GGRAsia in an emailed statement. In total, 33 of the city’s 39 active casinos have now reopened, said the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, also known as DICJ.
The gaming venue at the Altira Macau casino hotel – a property run by Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd – reopened on Monday, said the regulator. The hotel at the property had resumed operations last week, according to information on the Macao Government Tourism Office’s website. The hotel had been temporarily closed since February 10.
The gaming venues at respectively Waldo Hotel and Hotel President – both casinos under the licence of Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd – have also resumed operations on Monday, the regulator told us.
The Grand Dragon Casino on Taipa, run under the licence of Melco Resorts, is also back in operation, added the DICJ.
Macau casinos started to reopen on Thursday (February 20), following a 15-day shutdown ordered by the city’s government as part of the efforts to contain the spread locally of the Covid-19 disease. The government said however that the city’s casinos would not all be obliged to reopen with effect from that date and would instead be given permission to apply for a grace period of up to 30 days before resuming casino operations.
The Macau casino regulator had stated last week that all reopenings of gaming venues would involve special arrangements regarding density of seating for customers at gaming tables and a minimum space being required between operational tables.
Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd has said that gaming operations at its Sands Cotai Central complex are to resume on Thursday, February 27. “Our Macau operations, including some of our hotel facilities that had been temporarily closed, are now being gradually reopened in accordance with certain limitations imposed by the Macau government to safeguard public health and in line with demand,” said Sands China in the firm’s unaudited annual report, filed on Friday to the Hong Kong bourse.
Even after partial resumption of gaming business, casino executives and investment analysts were not expecting the Macau market to see a fast ramping up of trade, due to factors including various travel restrictions imposed in China and beyond to try to contain the virus’ spread.
Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd said in a Monday note that it estimated February casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Macau “to be down 90 percent and March potentially to be down 80 percent,” assuming no significant improvement in travel arrangements. “The operators we have spoken with do not see any clarity on timing of recovery at this time,” it stated.
According to Sanford Bernstein’s estimates, Macau’s casino GGR for February thus far was MOP2.1 billion (US$261.7 million) with an average daily rate (ADR) for open days of circa MOP255 million to MOP260 million.
“This month-to-date ADR is 65 percent below January 2020 (ADR MOP714 million) and December 2019 (ADR MOP737 million),” said analysts Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu. Since the reopening of the market, “VIP has been stronger than mass, with high volatility – which is not surprising”.
Hotels at casino resorts were not included in the original shutdown order on gaming operations but some operators had chosen to shutter some of their hotels for operational reasons. Occupancy levels were said to have plummeted, coinciding with the casino shutdown and the start of a temporary ban on exit visas for residents of mainland China to visit Macau.
According to data from the police, Macau recorded below 5,000 visitor arrivals per day on average for the week ended February 23. In 2019 the statistical daily average was circa 108,000 tourist visitors per day, based on that year’s tally of 39.4 million arrivals.
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"There’s a huge amount of possibilities out there and in the case of Macau, it seems that some of these issues should be considered or we may lose the epithet of gambling capital of the world"
Macau-based lawyer and senior partner at law firm Rato, Ling, Lei and Cortés