Covid-19 outbreaks stymied Macau casino trade growth opportunities for October Golden Week, and the lack of major Chinese public holidays in the rest of the calendar year, means gaming investors might wish to turn attention to the United States, where the casino sector is opening up and digitalising, says a Monday note from brokerage Jefferies LLC.
“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,” said the memo from the Jefferies team, including Andrew Lee and David Katz.
The U.S. casino sector, by comparison, offered a “clearer recovery path, high margins and growing digital opportunities,” said Jefferies. The use of cashless gaming has been an increasing factor in the U.S., spurred by not only Covid-19 safety concerns, but also security, a number of commentators has noted.
Following a series of new Covid-19 cases in Macau detected since late September, authorities in the neighbouring city of Zhuhai, Guangdong province, introduced a requirement for all arrivals from Macau to undergo a 14-day compulsory quarantine. The move took effect on September 26, and remains in place. Zhuhai is the main land-travel gateway to Macau for mainland China visitors.
China’s capital, Beijing, now requires inbound travellers from Macau to undergo a 14-day period of quarantine, a travel restriction that became effective on October 9.
With effect from October 6, Macau has also tightened its own rules on outbound travel, by requiring departing travellers to present a nucleic acid test result – proving they are ‘negative’ for the Covid-19 virus – issued within 24 hours of departure. The local authorities have said this tightened rule was to prevent any spread of the recently-reported local Covid-19 infections spreading “outside the city”.
“The ease and convenience of travel remains a key driver of visits, with the primary fear of potential tourists being quarantined when returning home,” remarked the Jefferies team of the prospects of the Macau casino trade.
Despite the recently-introduced travel restrictions, mainland China is, to date, the only place to have a largely quarantine-free travel arrangement with Macau.
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Chief executive of casino equipment provider Light & Wonder