Macau casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) is expected to fall by as much as 93 percent to 95 percent in April in year-on-year terms, Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd has suggested. In March the market saw a decline of 80 percent in GGR according to official data.
Sanford Bernstein said in a Tuesday note that its industry channel checks indicated Macau’s GGR for the first 13 days of April stood at approximately MOP850 million (US$106 million) in aggregate, with a month-to-date average daily rate of MOP66 million.
“Month-to-date average daily rate is down 92 percent compared to April 2019,” said analysts Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu. They added the daily average for the eight-day period ended April 13 was estimated to be only MOP44 million.
“We estimate VIP has been stronger than mass, with revenue driven by a very small number of players, with lower than normal hold in VIP and significant volatility,” added the Sanford Bernstein team.
The brokerage pointed out that the Macau casino industry continued to suffer from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Although there had been some improvement in performance after market reopening – subsequent to local casinos being ordered to close for a 15-day period in February – there had been from late March additional border restrictions between Macau and neighbouring Guangdong province that had a negative impact on gaming revenue.
“Since reopening on February 20, both average daily rate and daily visitation had shown steady (albeit very incremental) improvements week on week through mid-March,” said Sanford Bernstein. “However, a pick up in coronavirus cases leading to new travel restrictions in mid-March led to a drop in GGR and visitation.”
According to the city’s Public Security Police, Macau received an aggregate of fewer than 550 visitors over the weekend, a time coinciding with an Easter-festival holiday period in Macau and Hong Kong. In 2019 the statistical daily average for tourist visitors was circa 108,000 per day, based on that year’s tally of 39.4 million arrivals as reported previously be the city’s Statistics and Census Service.
“The gaming operators and other Macau based contacts we have spoken with do not see any clarity on timing of recovery (visa situation improvement),” stated the Sanford Bernstein analysts.
The issuance of inbound visas to Macau for mainland tourists via China’s individual visit scheme for independent travellers, and via package tours for mass-market arrivals, has been suspended for more than three months. Travel restrictions currently in place additionally make it very hard for visitors from outside mainland China to reach Macau.
“We expect GGR to pick up again in May/June with loosening travel restrictions, but any strong near-term recovery is unlikely”, added the Sanford Bernstein analysts.
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Chief operating officer of Sands China