Casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Macau fell by 94.5 percent year-on-year in August, to MOP1.33 billion (US$166.6 million), according to data from the city’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, released on Tuesday. Judged sequentially, the latest monthly tally was down 1.0 percent from the MOP1.34 billion achieved in July.
Tuesday’s data meant that the Macau market’s GGR tally for the first eight months of 2020 stood at MOP36.39 billion, down 81.6 percent from the prior-year period.
There has been recently some incremental easing of travel between Macau and the neighbouring Chinese mainland province of Guangdong, that some industry commentators said was part of small steps in the right direction for the early stages of Macau’s rebound from the disruption wrought by Covid-19.
A Tuesday memo from JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd nonetheless described the August GGR tally as “a bit disappointing”.
“It implies a daily run-rate of MOP43 million, the same as July’s,” stated analysts DS Kim, Derek Choi and Jeremy An.
They added that was “somewhat puzzling”, given a “meaningful pick-up in tourist arrivals,” measured at three times, judged month on month, i.e., “210,000 to 230,000 “in August, versus “74,000” arrivals for the month of July.
Referring to the incremental return of Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) tourists, starting with those from neighbouring Zhuhai in Guangdong province, from late August, the institution stated: “Zhuhai probably has the highest share of non-gamblers for Macau.”
JP Morgan added: “VIP demand also seems to have contracted in recent weeks, as some junkets/agents/players kept a low profile amidst stepped-up scrutiny on capital control and overseas gambling.”
Guangdong residents beyond Zhuhai can since August 26 apply for IVS exit visas from the mainland, while IVS applications for residents of designated cities in the rest of China will restart on September 23. The IVS scheme and tour group visa scheme had been suspended in late January, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus linked to Covid-19.
A Tuesday note from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd observed that the August GGR result was “largely in line” with Bloomberg polling consensus of -93 percent.
The institution added that it estimated average daily revenue (ADR) for August was MOP43 million, down 1 percent versus July, and up 80 percent compared to June.
Ben Lee, managing partner of IGamiX Management and Consulting Ltd, said on August 26, in comments to GGRAsia, that investors and others should be cautious about relying on too-rapid a comeback of Macau gambling revenues.
Travel between Macau and Hong Kong is still subject ordinarily to a 14-day quarantine period in each direction. According to Sanford Bernstein, visitors from Hong Kong are – in normal trading times – estimated to “contribute up to 15 percent” of Macau annual GGR.
(Updated 3.30pm, Sept 1)
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Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance