Macau’s casino industry posted sequential weekly improvement in gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the period March 15 to 21 inclusive, say two separate institutions.
Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd estimated in a Monday note that Macau GGR for the first 21 days of March stood at MOP5.85 billion (US$731.3 million), or MOP279 million per day, based on its own channel checks.
Also on a Monday memo, investment bank JP Morgan suggested the average daily GGR run rate was MOP307 million in the past week, marking the third consecutive week of sequential improvement.
“This implies last week’s run-rate was … one of the highest non-holiday readings post Covid-19, having recovered back to year-end levels (i.e., before the fresh travel curb was imposed and dragged on travel/gaming demand),” wrote analysts DS Kim and Derek Choi at JP Morgan.
In their note, Sanford Bernstein’s analysts Vitaly Umansky, Kelsey Zhu and Louis Li said: “Macau GGR during the third week of March improved again from the prior week, even as VIP hold remained below normal.”
They added: “Weekly average daily GGR jumped 13 percent week-on-week and 18 percent from February’s daily average.”
Sanford Bernstein forecast Macau’s full-March GGR to be down “in the mid-60s percent” compared to the same month in 2019.
Looking ahead, Sanford Bernstein said it expected “a more robust GGR uplift to begin this summer” as Covid-19-related travel impediments are potentially “removed and visitation increases”.
“We expect visitation and GGR to slowly improve during March and April,” the brokerage wrote. “However, without a major change to Covid-19 testing requirements for entry into Macau, Individual Visitor Scheme or group visa issuance changes [by Mainland China authorities], and the opening of Hong Kong, GGR and visitation will remain well below normal levels,” it added.
The Macau government recently shortened the mandatory quarantine period on arrivals from Hong Kong to 14 days from 21 days. Stanford Bernstein said that, while “not meaningful,” the announcement was “a small step forward” regarding elimination of quarantine requirements and other travel restrictions impacting travel between the two cities.
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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