Macau casinos experienced a 63.7% year-over-year drop in brick-and-mortar gambling revenue, according to numbers released by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
Operators in the region reported winning the equivalent of $1 billion from gamblers in January. It was the 12th straight month of a year-over-year decline of more than 60% and the 16th consecutive month with a year-over-year decline of any size.
It’s likely that operators will report an increase in year-over-year revenue for February as it was about a year ago that the coronavirus first took hold in the country and the government forced the casinos in Macau to close for 15 days.
It’s up slightly, however, from December’s $979 million and November’s $845 million in revenue, showing that the area is slowly rebuilding after the COVID-19 pandemic severely hurt the casino market in the former Portuguese colony.
Amid the slight optimism, there is still some concern. According to a Reuters report, there was a rise in COVID-19 cases in January, which hurt the tourism industry. Analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein also added that the casinos travel visa processing was delayed due to the increase in cases and the necessity of testing, which also caused high rollers to stay away from casinos.
Chinese New Year occurs during the second week of February and is generally a catalyst for tourism and increased gaming revenue for the casinos. Analysts had been pointing towards improvement in the market since October, but with an increased number of cases and a lack of VIP gamblers, they are starting to tone down their optimism.
“The travel impediments will lead certainly to reduced visitation (versus earlier forecasts) into Macau for the next weeks at least, with Chinese New Year visitation being impacted,” wrote analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein.