Average daily casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Macau for the first eight days of August was down by 48 percent compared to the previous week, said on Monday brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd in Hong Kong, citing channel checks.
According to analysts Vitaly Umansky, Louis Li and Kelsey Zhu, the average daily GGR for the August 1 to August 8 period stood at MOP125 million (US$15.6 million). It was “the lowest daily GGR since late September,” said the Sanford Bernstein team.
They added: “The week’s sharp GGR deterioration was caused by the travel disruptions after Macau detected four local Covid-19 cases on August 3.”
That was a reference to a local family being infected with the Delta variant of Covid-19, which led to tightening of cross-border travel rules.
Mainland China is the only place to have a mostly quarantine-free travel bubble with Macau. Recently Guangdong province, the largest-single source of tourists to Macau, has advised its citizens against trips outside that jurisdiction, amid an uptick on the mainland in Covid-19 cases.
Authorities in the neighbouring city of Zhuhai, in Guangdong, announced late on August 3 that starting from 6am on the following day, people travelling between Zhuhai and Macau would need to present a certificate issued within 12 hours of departure, showing a ‘negative’ result for Covid-19.
“However, the [Covid-19] situation in Macau appears to be under control,” said the team from Sanford Bernstein. It noted that a city-wide mass-testing operation conducted last week had not found new infection cases.
The three-day mass testing operation was completed on Saturday (August 7) morning. A total of 614,465 people was tested – free of charge – for Covid-19 as part of the scheme. The city’s government also said that in addition 101,786 people were also tested during the period, outside of the mass testing scheme, at other testing venues available in Macau.
All tests – an aggregate of 716,251 – returned negative results, according to the local authorities.
The Covid-19 cluster detected in Macau had dimmed hopes of recovery for Macau’s gaming and hospitality trade over the summer, said several senior figures in the sector, in comments to GGRAsia.
In its Monday note, Sanford Bernstein said it forecast full-August GGR to be down “high-70s of percent” compared to August 2019; and down approximately “high-30s of percent” month-on-month from July 2021.
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"We [estimate] that these illegal [currency exchange] transactions account for somewhere between 50 percent to 60 percent [of Macau's annual gross gaming revenue]”
Managing partner at IGamiX Management and Consulting