Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd says that despite some recent easing of Macau border restrictions with mainland China, and the beginnings of casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) recovery after a Covid-19 outbreak in the city, Macau gaming is “still largely relying on locals”, and August GGR is likely to be down 89 percent relative to pre-pandemic trading in 2019.
That would put Macau August GGR at about MOP2.67 billion (US$330.1 million), versus the MOP24.26 billion achieved in August 2019.
Macau GGR for August 1 to 7 this year was “about MOP36 million”, said a Monday memo from Sanford Bernstein, citing its own channel checks.
The institution said that was up 26 percent week-on-week, compared to a MOP28 million average daily rate during July 25 to 31, with the improvement “helped by border reopening with China since last week,” wrote analysts Vitaly Umansky, Louis Li, and Shirley Yang.
Though they added: “The month-to-date GGR is still largely relying on local players”.
Since 6pm on August 3, anyone wishing to leave Macau to travel to neighbouring Zhuhai city in mainland China’s Guangdong province is exempted from a previously-imposed seven-day quarantine. Zhuhai is normally the key overland gateway for Chinese tourists setting off on, and coming back from, a Macau break.
While the border had not technically been closed during the period coinciding with Macau’s worst outbreak of Covid-19 – which began on June 18, and saw just over 1,800 community cases – the cross-border travel restrictions that had been imposed as part of countermeasures had made leisure trips to Macau impractical for mainlanders.
The Macau government announced on Monday that with effect from Tuesday (August 9) – until September 8 – most people would be restricted daily to one outbound journey to neighbouring Zhuhai in Guangdong province, and one inbound journey to Macau, as part of Covid-19 countermeasures. A number of Covid-19 cases were reported in Zhuhai in the past few days.
The brokerage noted that Hong Kong – which it said was “historically about 15-percent plus of Macau’s gaming business” – had said on Monday it would from August 12 reduce inbound quarantine to three days plus four days of self-management, though Macau’s neighbouring special administrative region had still been recording about 4,500 Covid-19 cases per day.
Due to Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong and mainland China, the “reopening” of Hong Kong’s border with China had been “continuously postponed,” said Sanford Bernstein, adding “we do not expect it to happen until at least fall or winter”.
The analysts further noted: “A gradual reopening with Macau is anticipated to commence concurrently with, or shortly after, Hong Kong-China reopening.”
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