Consumer demand for Macau casino gambling stayed strong, even after the official seven-day holiday in mainland China for the lunar new year, said two brokerages in respective notes on Monday.
“Gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the first 13 days of February is estimated at MOP5.0 billion [US$622.1 million] or MOP384 million per day, representing 40 percent-plus of pre-Covid levels,” said JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd.
Mainland China designated January 31 to February 6 inclusive, as the Chinese New Year (CNY) holiday this time. Mainland China is currently the only place to have a largely quarantine-free travel arrangement with Macau.
Macau’s GGR for February 7 to 13 inclusive, “showed a large jump”, being up 29 percent week-on-week, estimated brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd.
The institution said that translated to an average daily rate of GGR amounting to MOP428 million, compared to MOP333 million during the week of Chinese New Year.
The estimated sequential improvement was “the highest daily run since the May 2021 holiday period,” surrounding Labour Day, when May 1 to 5 inclusive generated approximately MOP600 million daily, said Sanford Bernstein analyst Vitaly Umansky.
JP Morgan analysts DS Kim, Amanda Cheng and Livy Lyu said that strong “tail end” demand post Chinese New Year, “without junkets”, was “impressive and a very encouraging sign to suggest robust pent-up demand for mass gambling”.
The reference to junkets was an acknowledgement that for now, junket-generated VIP play as previously known in Macau has largely ceased, although a number of investment analysts has mentioned that Macau operators are still drawing some high rollers, but managing the players directly.
Sanford Bernstein nonetheless observed in its Monday note that in Hong Kong, “historically comprising 15 percent-plus of Macau’s gaming business”, Covid-19 cases had surged to reach a “peak” relative to the start of the pandemic, and in likelihood pushing back the prospect of quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong and Macau.
Mr Umansky forecast Macau’s February GGR would be down 64 percent versus February 2019, but up circa 45 percent month-on-month, which was “higher than prior estimates due to Chinese New Year- and post-Chinese New Year strength”.
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