Macau Gaming Revenue Plunges 97% In April Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Casino companies operating in Macau moved lower on Friday after it was reported that gaming revenue in the region plunged a colossal 97% last month amid the spread of the coronavirus. Publicly traded companies in the Macau gaming space include Las Vegas Sands (LVS), MGM Resorts (MGM), Wynn Resorts (WYNN) and Melco Resorts (MLCO).

GAMING DATA

Macau's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau said gross revenue from games of fortune in the region decreased 96.8% year-over-year to 754M patacas, its worst month on record. This compares to a 79.7% drop in March from a year earlier to 5.257B patacas and a staggering 87.8% drop in February to 3.104B patacas.

April's weak performance continues a trend of declines that had been briefly halted in September 2019. The slump follows a decision by Macau's government to suspend casino operations from February 5 for just over two weeks, as well as continuing quarantines and border restrictions in China.

Macau previously said it expects a drop of 56% in annual gross gaming revenue this year to 130B patacas, down from 260B patacas forecast last year.

CORONAVIRUS IMPACT

 The coronavirus is another setback for the gaming hub after a disappointing 2019 was weighed down by the trade war, Hong Kong protests, a crackdown on online gaming and a slowing Chinese economy. Macau's government also decided to suspend casino operations from February 5 for just over two weeks, dealing another blow to the gambling hub. Even after the partial resumption of business around February 20, China continued to halt individual and group visas to Macau and restrict transportation in a prolonged fight against the spread of COVID-19. Macau's government draws up to 80% of its revenue from the gaming sector.

While 80% of the gaming tables had reopened by mid-March, there were few visitors as China continued its freeze on individual and group visas as part of virus-containment measures. Visitors from the Greater China region account for more than 90% of tourists to Macau. The recovery was also hurt by a 14-day quarantine rule started in China's Guangdong province last week for individuals who arrive at its border checkpoints from Macau, Hong Kong or Taiwan, which analysts said was "effectively the same as a casino shut-down" for Macau. The new rules are intended to minimize further transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Both Hong Kong and Macau imposed similar rules for their own territories in March after reporting spikes in new COVID-19 cases.

ANALYST COMMENTARY

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