Senior executives at some Macau casino operators are mildly optimistic about likely business volumes for the upcoming week-long Chinese New Year (CNY) break, due to start on Thursday (February 11).
Senior people at SJM Holdings Ltd and Wynn Macau Ltd respectively said trade was likely to be similar to Autumn Golden Week, an annual week-long Chinese holiday encompassing China’s National Day on October 1.
Ambrose So Shu Fai, chief executive of SJM Holdings, told Chinese-language media outlet the Hong Kong Economic Journal, regarding Chinese New Year: “It is very likely that daily [gaming revenue of] MOP300 million [US$37.6 million] can still be achieved,” but added that to reach MOP400 million daily during the latest holiday “will be, I believe, very difficult”.
Although in recent weeks some authorities in mainland China had urged citizens not to travel beyond their home area during Chinese New Year, to counter the risk of spreading Covid-19, SJM Holdings’ Mr So noted there had not been a “new” round of Covid-19 outbreaks in mainland China. As mainland consumers had been not been able to travel much beyond the mainland, “for so long”, they would “want to come” to Macau, suggested the executive.
Mainland virus cases down
Ian Coughlan, Wynn Macau Ltd president, noted during a Thursday call with analysts, for the parent Wynn Resorts Ltd’s fourth-quarter earnings, that reports of a number of Covid-19 outbreaks in mainland China in late December and January, had coincided with “bookings throughout town” being “affected” for this year’s Chinese New Year holiday.
More recently, the number of mainland cases had dropped “from the hundreds to the teens,” said Mr Coughlan on the call.
“That’s very positive. But it has impacted the booking cycle for Chinese New Year. We do have a lot of player interest still in Chinese New Year. We have a number of our bigger players reserving suites and villas, and they will potentially travel,” noted the Wynn Macau Ltd president.
Trading for Chinese New Year would in likelihood be “more like an October Golden Week situation than the Christmas and Western New Year period”, stated Mr Coughlan during the call.
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai, president of Macau operator Sands China Ltd, told the Hong Kong Economic Journal the upcoming holiday break might not be “as quiet as the market expected”.
He conceded that since mid-January, his firm had seen “increasing cancellations” of hotel room bookings for Chinese New Year, but it had also received some fresh bookings from mainland tourists.
The Sands China executive added he did not necessarily expect very high volumes of visitors to come to the city during the period. The mainland is the only place currently, to have a largely quarantine-free travel bubble with Macau.
The Hong Kong Economic Journal also cited remarks from Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, boss of the Suncity junket brand. He suggested Macau’s VIP gaming business might see some improvement during the upcoming Chinese New Year break, when compared to Autumn Golden Week.
Macau’s VIP gaming performance during Chinese New Year could still be affected – for better or for worse – by any new developments in mainland China’s Covid-19 situation and the corresponding impact on its visa-issuance policies for Macau-bound trippers , Mr Chau was cited by Hong Kong Economic Journal as saying.
On Friday, Chinese authorities said they were stepping up efforts against “cross-border gambling”.
Brokerage JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd said that day, it did not think the move was specifically aimed against Macau, but that it would in likelihood not make the work of Macau junkets any easier in the future.
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VIP share of Macau's gross gaming revenue in the third quarter of 2021