Macau casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) for 2022 may recover 47 percent judged year-on-year, but still be only 44 percent of 2019’s pre-pandemic level, says a Wednesday note from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd.
Sanford Bernstein analyst Vitaly Umansky forecast in the Wednesday memo that easing of travel rules between Hong Kong and Macau would begin “by the end of the first quarter or early in the second quarter”, and that “improved” travel links between Macau and mainland China by the summer would equate to “improving GGR” during the course of 2022.
The memo added the caveat that the first quarter could be “weaker than expected, should Covid outbreaks curtail travel”.
Chinese-language media in Macau reported on Thursday that Tanzhou Town, in the mainland’s Guangdong province and about 10 kilometres (6 miles) from Macau, had a newly-confirmed case of Covid-19 infection. The news outlets said that transport links had been suspended between Tanzhou and nearby Zhuhai, the mainland city nearest to Macau.
On Wednesday, the Hong Kong authorities said 22 new cases of Covid-19 infection had been detected in the city.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, had mentioned in a statement on January 4 that Omicron-variant Covid-19 cases there, had in likelihood set back the chances of Hong Kong having a quarantine-free travel arrangement with mainland China.
Before Christmas, a senior Macau official reiterated that Macau and Hong Kong might be able to create conditions – via steps including high vaccination rates – for quarantine-free travel, once Hong Kong and the mainland had reached a similar arrangement.
Macau’s casino GGR grew 43.7 percent year-on-year to MOP86.86 billion (US$10.82 billion) in full-year 2021, according to data released by the city’s government on January 1.
A number of investment analysts has attributed the annual improvement to easing of travel conditions between Macau and mainland China, the only place currently to have a largely quarantine-free travel arrangement with the gaming hub.
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”As the Macau gaming revenue structure is now leaning heavily towards the mass business … once the border fully reopens, the recovery from mass should drive the sector to bounce more swiftly”
Vitaly Umansky, Louis Li and Shirley Yang
Analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein