Macau’s casino industry performance for Chinese New Year (CNY) was “better than expected”, with casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) estimated as being up by about 60 percent versus the festive period in 2021, says a Monday note from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd.
Another indicator, the average daily volume of visitors to Macau during the latest lunar new year, was up 25.4 percent year-on-year, at 16,242, according to Macau government data. The tally for the full seven days of the Chinese New Year break was also up 25.4 percent year-on-year, at 113,699.
This time, Chinese New Year fell on February 1, with China’s State Council designating the holiday period for the mainland as spanning seven days, from January 31 – a Monday – to February 6 – a Sunday – inclusive.
JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd stated in a Monday memo, that Macau’s Chinese New Year GGR “wasn’t half as bad as feared”. The brokerage’s checks indicated the first six days of the holiday produced MOP2 billion (US$249.2 million) in GGR.
JP Morgan analysts DS Kim, Amanda Cheng, and Livy Lyu stated, referring to another holiday period in the Chinese calendar: “While this is well below the MOP600 million-plus per day that we saw during the May 2021 Golden Week – let alone pre-Covid Chinese New Year run-rates of MOP800 million-plus – this still is very respectable level because: there’s no more junket business in this print; and border policy still remains very restrictive.”
The brokerage observed that inbound travellers currently still need to present a ‘negative’ Covid-19 test result when arriving in Macau, “with most provinces” on the Chinese mainland “strongly discouraging cross-province travels”.
Sanford Bernstein analyst Vitaly Umansky stated in his note: “Mass GGR was supported by better-than-expected” visitor volume, as well as by “premium play during the holiday, while VIP, relatively small, was helped by above-normal hold.”
The latest festive period, marking the advent of the Year of the Tiger, saw the average daily rate of Macau casino GGR at MOP333 million for the first six days – i.e., about MOP2 billon in aggregate – versus MOP205 million per day on average this January, noted Sanford Bernstein, citing its own channel checks.
It was an improvement of nearly 63 percent month-on-month, according to Sanford Bernstein’s estimates.
Referring to cases of Omicron-variant Covid-19 recently reported in neighbouring Guangdong province, Mr Umansky stated: “The Covid outbreaks… in January had ended prior to the start of the holiday and Macau relaxed Covid test certificate [rules] to 48 hours” in terms of validity.
But he noted this was “still tighter” than the seven-day validity period for Covid-19 test certification that had been required “prior to the new outbreaks”.
Mr Umansky said the year-on-year improvement in Chinese New Year visitor volume had been “encouraging”, though he noted the latest performance was still down around 90 percent on Chinese New Year in 2019, the last year of normal trading prior to the pandemic.
A total of 93.3 percent of all tourist arrivals to Macau this Chinese New Year – i.e., 106,080 visitors – were from mainland China. The mainland is currently the only place to have a largely quarantine-free travel arrangement with Macau.
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