Macau, the Las Vegas of Asia, continued to experience the brunt of COVID-19-induced prolonged lockdown as its gross gaming revenue (GGR) slipped 93.2 per cent in May. Strict travel controls continued to impede the Special Administrative Region’s recovery efforts and even with relaxation for specific regions, Macau casinos are waiting to welcome crowds at pre COVID-19 levels.
According to the Gaming Inspection & Coordination Bureau’s latest report, the Special Administrative Region’s six concessionaires collectively reported turnover of $221 million for the month of May this year, depicting a decline of more than ninety-three per cent as compared with the GGR in the same month of the previous year. However, the actual decline in revenue is better than analysts’ average forecast of 95 per cent plunge. It is also better than the 97 per cent plunge recorded in the region’s GGR in April this year. The April’s fall in GGR for Macau was the highest on record.
It may be noted here that Macau’s gaming business had been suffering well before the outbreak of corona virus due to trade war between the US and China as well as because of protests in Hong Kong. As per a media report, “The results for May represent the eighth straight month of declining revenue, coming after Macau had already been battered by a two-year-long trade war and months of protest in Hong Kong.”
As corona virus surfaced in China, Macau’s revenue slipped 88 per cent and 80 per cent in the months of February and March, respectively. The casino industry of Macau could not improve due to strict travel controls with mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The miserable GGR figures for the month of May arrived merely a day after the Special Administrative Region’s statistics department announced a decline of 48.7 per cent in GDP in the first quarter as the number of visitors plunged 69 per cent on a year-over-year basis. Macau derives nearly 80 per cent of its economic output from the casino industry.
Data also indicated that VIP visits to the Special Administrative Region remained steady amid corona virus fears, but that was not sufficient for casinos to defray the hefty losses of the usual flow of visitors and operating costs, which normally exceed $2 million per day. However, the casino industry of the Las Vegas of Asia will likely heave a sigh of relief soon as some of the discouraging travel controls are expected to be lifted by the end of the first half of June.