Average Macau daily casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) in the first six days of September was nearly double the average daily rate across the whole of August, according to a Monday note from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd.
The institution estimated – based on what it termed “channel checks” – that the average daily rate for September 1 to 6 inclusive was around MOP83 million (US$10.4 million), compared to around MOP43 million in full August, meaning a sequential improvement of circa 94 percent.
Macau’s September casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) is likely to see year-on-year decline in the “mid-80s” percentage-wise, with “weekly numbers getting better” as recovery is driven by “increasing visas issuances” for visits by mainlanders from Guangdong province, added the memo.
Macau GGR contracted by 81.6 percent year-on-year in the eight months to August 31, according to data from the city’s government.
Forecasts for 2020 “remain largely educated guesses at this time, with constantly-changing conditions altering expectations,” suggested the note from analysts Vitaly Umansky, Tianjiao Yu and Kelsey Zhu.
They added: “With a visa issuance timetable now in place, we believe the drivers of recovery will be confidence levels of customers to travel and spend, opening up Hong Kong to Macau travel and an increase in frequency of air transportation within Greater China, to airports in Guangdong/Hong Kong/Macau, to facilitate long-haul travel.”
The institution estimated – based on its checks – that Macau GGR for September 1 to 6 inclusive, was approximately MOP500 million, accounting for the month-to-date average daily rate of MOP83 million.
“The month-to-date average daily rate is -89 percent, compared to September 2019,” but up 94 percent compared to August this year, stated the brokerage.
“VIP volumes are down in the low 90s of percent [in year-on-year terms], and mass is down nearly 90 percent. Both segments are beginning to show a slight pickup,” added the analysts.
Sanford Bernstein observed that since exit visa processing for Macau tourism purposes by residents of Zhuhai and Guangdong province as a whole were resumed respectively on August 12 and August 26, average daily visitor numbers to Macau had “further climbed to 12,807” on September 2; and reached 14,600 on September 3, up from approximately 5,000 daily in early August.
Sanford Bernstein suggested it was taking approximately 10 days for such visas to be issued, noting such tourists also need to obtain a certificate showing freedom from Covid-19 infection to be allowed into Macau. Such certificate must have been issued within seven days of the visitor’s planned arrival to the city. Such a certificate is subsequently required for entry to Macau’s casinos.
Nonetheless, the institution’s analysts noted visa applications for tourism to Macau from the rest of mainland China would begin on September 23 and “should boost visitation by mid-October”.
Sanford Bernstein also gave some commentary on the prospects of Macau receiving visitors from Hong Kong, a feeder market which it said in normal times provided approximately 10 percent to 15 percent of Macau’s annual gaming revenues.
“Hong Kong’s citywide [Covid-19] testing programme could see over 4 million Hong Kong residents tested by mid-September. Once that occurs, and cases drop to close to (if not) zero, we should see the city added to the [mainland] China-Macau travel bubble, which will be an immediate boost to revenues,” stated the analysts.
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“We see that basically the ‘golden’ periods [for Macau's casino industry] are all concentrated in the second half of this year”
Lei Wai Nong
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance