Macau gaming revenues plunge 80pc amid crisis

Business | Bloomberg and Stella Zhai 2 Apr 2020

Macau gaming revenue dropped for the sixth straight month in March as casinos were slammed again by quarantines and border restrictions in China that kept gamblers away during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gross gaming revenue was 5.26 billion patacas (HK$5.1 billion) in March, down almost 80 percent from a year earlier, according to data from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. That was in line with the median analyst estimate of a 79.5 percent fall, following the 88 percent decline in February.

The slump underscores the long road ahead for casino operators as they try to recover and reopen after the 15-day shutdown in February to curb the contagion.

While 80 percent of the gaming tables had reopened by mid-March, there were few visitors as mainland China - the largest source of VIP and mass gamblers for Macau - continued its freeze on individual and group visas as part of virus-containment measures.

The slow recovery was hobbled by a 14-day quarantine rule started by China's Guangdong province in late-March, which JP Morgan said in a March 27 note was "effectively same as casino shut-down' for Macau. With few flights in, almost every visitor was entering Macau through the land border in Guangdong.

Macau halved its 2020 gross gaming revenue forecast to 130 billion patacas in March before the new quarantine rule was announced which has considerably worsened the short-term outlook for casinos.

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