Macau casino average daily gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the first 11 days of October – a period encompassing the autumn Golden Week holiday in China – was up 221 percent compared to September this year, estimated brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd in a Monday note.
The month-to-date average daily rate was MOP236 million (about US$30 million), down 72 percent judged year-on-year, but up 221 percent sequentially from this September’s MOP74 million daily average, said analysts Vitaly Umansky, Tianjiao Yu and Kelsey Zhu.
This year’s Golden Week ran from October 1 until October 8 inclusive, and did see an uptick in visitor arrivals from mainland China compared to the preceding months. The daily average volume of such visitors was still estimated by the Macao Government Tourism Office as down 86 percent versus the prior-year holiday period, accounting for one extra holiday day in 2020.
Sanford Bernstein observed in its Monday note that tourism volume was not necessarily an indicator for Macau gambling volumes, as “fewer numbers of customers are necessary to drive GGR growth”.
Nonetheless, the average daily tally of visitors to Macau had “continued to climb,” reaching 17,020 as of October 8, “up from approximately 5,000 daily in early August,” said the brokerage.
The institution did note however that, according to its estimates, casino GGR performance for the four days from October 8 to 11 inclusive, had moderated, so that it was down 80 percent versus the same period a year earlier.
In any case, said the brokerage, the “key” to sustained improvement in tourism volume was likely to be “simplification” of the process under which mainlanders can apply for an exit visa to visit Macau.
Sanford Bernstein reiterated it was “currently taking up to two weeks to process” such applications. “Perhaps elimination” of Macau’s current Covid-19 test requirement might also help, said the institution.
Currently, mainlanders must have tested negative for Covid-19 within seven days of intended arrival in Macau, in order to be allowed to enter the city. Anyone wishing to visit a Macau casino floor must also show such a test certificate.
Anyone wishing to visit Macau via Hong Kong, must have a Covid-19 test certificate issued within 24 hours of arrival, and, even then, must undergo a 14-day quarantine.
Sanford Bernstein noted Hong Kong customers have previously accounted for about 10 percent to 15 percent of Macau gaming revenues.
“We do not expect Hong Kong travel restrictions to be lifted in the near term, until Hong Kong cases are brought back down to an insignificant level and show stability, at which point Hong Kong would be added to the China/Macau travel bubble,” wrote the Sanford Bernstein team.
As of Tuesday lunchtime, a dedicated website of the Hong Kong government reported a daily increase of 11 infections in the city, taking the tally to 5,194, including 105 deaths.
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Vitaly Umansky, Louis Li and Kelsey Zhu
Analysts at brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd