Four more casinos in Macau have resumed operations as of Friday, meaning only two of the city’s 39 active casinos were yet to reopen as of that day, the city’s gaming regulator confirmed to GGRAsia in an emailed statement.
The casino at Rio Hotel – under the licence of Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd – restarted business on Tuesday, said the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, also known as DICJ.
The Jai Alai – Oceanus casino complex, and Casino Eastern at the Grand Lapa Macau hotel, both gaming venues on the Macau peninsula under the licence of SJM Holdings Ltd, were also reopened, on respectively Thursday and the early hours of Friday (February 28), said the regulator.
Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd also restarted gaming at its Sands Cotai Central complex on Thursday, confirmed DICJ.
Based on information previously disclosed by the gaming regulator, two of the city’s gaming venues were yet to ask for permission to resume operations. They were Casino Taipa, at the Regency Art Hotel; and the Casino Macau Jockey Club (pictured in a file photo) in Taipa, located in the Macau Roosevelt Hotel – both venues under the licence of SJM Holdings.
The DICJ list of Macau casinos mentions two other gaming venues: Casino Macau Palace, and Casino Greek Mythology. But both had their operations suspended indefinitely for commercial reasons, prior to the coronavirus alert.
The remainder of Macau casinos – shuttered for 15 days to contain the spread locally of the Covid-19 disease linked to the novel coronavirus – started to reopen on February 20. The government gave operators the option however of applying for a grace period of up to 30 days before relaunch.
Only 29 of the 39 active casinos in the city reopened after the stroke of midnight on February 20, with four additional venues resuming operations on February 24.
Resumption of gaming was however conditional on operators taking special precautions at the request of DICJ, in terms of density of seating for customers at gaming tables, and ensuring there was a certain minimum space between tables in use.
Even after partial resumption of gaming business, casino executives and investment analysts were not expecting the Macau market to see a fast ramping up of trade, due to factors including various travel restrictions imposed in China and beyond to try to contain the virus’ spread.
Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd said in a Monday note that it estimated February casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Macau “to be down 90 percent and March potentially to be down 80 percent,” assuming no significant improvement in travel arrangements.
Another brokerage, JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd, suggested in a recent note that recovery in consumer demand for Macau casino services in the wake of the health alert might happen only in the fourth quarter this year, compared to market consensus that the pickup would be in the third quarter.
The Macau government announced on Thursday that several entertainment facilities – including venues located at the city’s casino resorts – could start reopening from Monday (March 2), after being closed for nearly a month. Resumption of operations was however conditional on special precautions at the request of the city’s authorities.
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"One thing that is certain under the coronavirus era is that the biggest beneficiaries are the illegal operators, both bricks and mortar and online"
Partner and director overseeing government affairs at casino industry consultancy Global Market Advisors