Macau casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) rose by 13.6 percent sequentially in March, to just under MOP8.31 billion (US$1.04 billion), compared to just above MOP7.31 billion in February. March GGR was up 58.0 percent from a year earlier, according to data issued on Thursday by the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, a body also known as DICJ.
Aggregate casino GGR in the three months to March 31 stood at MOP23.64 billion, still a decline of 22.5 percent from the nearly MOP30.49 billion recorded in prior-year period. In the first quarter last year, the city’s casino sector had a good performance in January, before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Macau’s casino industry had been posting sequential weekly improvements in GGR in recent weeks, according to investment analysts.
Investment bank JP Morgan said in a Thursday note that March’s daily run-rate of MOP268 million “was, in fact, the best monthly print since Covid-19 and showed a consistent sequential recovery from MOP250 million to MOP260million/day in the past three months.”
It added: “In our view, this reflects improving travel sentiment and pent-up demand …, as well as modest relaxation of local restrictions in Macau (such as the resumption of standing bets, or removal of Covid-19 test requirements for casino entry).”
In a Thursday memo, brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd said aggregate GGR in March was however “lower than expected partly due to continued weak hold in the month.”
The aggregate GGR in the three months to March 31 was up about 8 percent from the fourth quarter of 2020. JP Morgan estimated that mass GGR has recovered to “circa 40 percent of pre-Covid levels (2019 average), while VIP GGR is at about 20-percent levels.”
Macau’s casino regulator confirmed to GGRAsia last week that table gambling while standing was being allowed again on the city’s casino floors, with the condition that such standing players stay at least 1 metre (3.3 feet) apart for safety reasons. The return of standing betting started “before the Chinese New Year” in February, added DICJ.
Investment analysts have said they expect GGR in Macau to show an uptick as Covid-19-related travel impediments are potentially “removed and visitation increases”.
On February 23, the Macau authorities had announced that no city in mainland China was any longer considered by the Macau authorities to be ‘medium risk’ for transmission of Covid-19 infection.
As a result, no mainland China visitor to Macau would as of that date be automatically required to complete quarantine upon arrival in the city, based specifically on whether the arriving visitor had been to any ‘medium risk’ place on the mainland in the 14 days prior to coming to Macau.
(Updated at 4.10pm, Apr 1)
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