The “latest channel checks have indicated that frequent gamblers to Macau have seen visa issuance denied by China immigration offices,” says a Monday memo from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd, referring to the exit visas needed for mainland residents to visit Macau.
The note also said that Macau casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) for May 10 to 15 represented on a daily average basis MOP50 million (US$6.2 million), “the worst” performance “since October 2020”, i.e., the date from which the mainland “resumed IVS [individual visit scheme travel]” for mainland residents wishing to travel to Macau.
The brokerage added that the performance – judged against the first nine days of May, including a Chinese public holiday period surrounding Labour Day on May 1 – was down 75 percent.
The institution’s Hong Kong-based analysts Vitaly Umansky, Louis Li and Shirley Yang wrote: “Channel checks indicate that Macau’s month-to-date GGR (May 1 to 15) is MOP2.1 billion (US$252 million), with a month-to-date average daily rate of MOP140 million (US$16.8 million), down 83 percent compared to the May 2019 average daily rate, and down 58 percent versus the May 2021 average daily rate.”
The note was in the context of a general curbing by the Chinese authorities of “cross-border gambling”.
On Thursday, China’s National Immigration Administration had said that since 2021 it had “spotted and stopped” from leaving the country, over 90,000 people that were allegedly “engaged in gambling activities”.
The intended destinations of those people barred from exit were not specified in the announcement.
“As China Immigration Administration just reiterated strict Covid-19 border policy and restrictions on non-essential travel, we expect near-term visitation [to Macau] and [casino] revenue may remain constrained,” said Sanford Bernstein in its Monday memo. Mainland China recently recorded Covid-19 outbreaks in several major cities, including Shanghai and Beijing.
To date, mainland China is the only place that has a largely quarantine-free travel arrangement with Macau.
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