Macau casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) rose by 2.6 percent sequentially in January, and was down 63.7 percent from the prior-year period. Such GGR was just above MOP8.02 billion (US$1.0 billion), according to data issued on Monday by the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, a body also known as DICJ.
The year 2020 closed with December GGR down 65.8 percent from a year earlier – that year’s lowest monthly rate of year-on-year decline since January.
The December tally was just under MOP7.82 billion. That figure was up 15.9 percent compared with the previous month.
The full-month of January “continued to be negatively impacted by visitation bottlenecks due to cisa processing and Covid[-19] test requirement, and by weakness in VIP volumes,” said brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd in a note on Monday.
“On a relative basis, premium mass was the best performing segment during the month, while junket VIP was most hamstrung and base mass continued to be hampered by low levels of visitors and Hong Kong travel closure,” added the institution.
Sanford Bernstein also suggested that Chinese New Year tourism to Macau from mainland China was likely to be impacted. “The travel impediments will lead certainly to reduced visitation (versus earlier forecasts) into Macau for the next few weeks at least, with Chinese New Year visitation being impacted,” it stated.
Aside from consumer concerns about Covid-19 infections on the mainland, the brokerage also cited advisory notices from some local governments there for citizens not to travel during the festive period.
China’s State Council has designated February 11 to 17 inclusive, as the Chinese New Year holiday period for 2021.
Brokerage Union Gaming Securities LLC said in a note on Monday that while the “modest sequential improvement” recorded in January by Macau’s gaming industry was “encouraging, GGR is still only 32 percent of prior year levels.”
Analyst John DeCree added: “We continue to expect the climb from a 35-percent recovery to a 70-percent recovery to take several months or even quarters.”
China International Capital Corp said in a recent report it expected Macau casino-sector earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to return to 2019 levels “as soon as” the fourth quarter of this year, “partly helped by the capacity expansion” linked either to new-to-market or enlarged or revamped Cotai projects due to launch this year.
(Updated at 9.40am, Feb 2)
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"The Macau recovery continues to be disrupted by false starts, while the lack of [Chinese] public holidays for rest of the year should cap the pace of the rebound”
Andrew Lee and David Katz
Analysts at brokerage Jefferies LLC