Macau casino operators encounter challenging start to the year

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The casino hotspot of Macau has reportedly experienced a disappointing start to 2022 although local operators are continuing to chalk up ‘good’ advanced booking figures for the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday period.

According to a report from Asia Gaming Brief, this is the assessment of global investments research firm Sanford C Bernstein Limited after the enclave’s gross gaming revenues for the first nine days of January fell by around 9% when compared with the final twelve days of December. The source detailed that this comes after the 41 casinos in Macau finished 2021 with combined receipts of slightly over $10.81 billion including about $991.49 million for the whole of last month.

Median mediocrity:

Macau is home to some of the world’s largest and most prestigious casinos including the iconic Casino Grand Lisboa venue from SJM Holdings Limited as well as Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited’s 1,600-room Studio City Macau development. However, the former Portuguese enclave reportedly saw daily average gaming revenues for the initial nine days of 2022 come in at approximately $33.12 million, which represents a decline from the roughly $36.48 million recorded over the course of the concluding twelve days of December.

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Comprehensive comparison:

To make matters worse and Sanford C Bernstein Limited reportedly explained that Macau’s month-to-date aggregated gross gaming revenues of some $298.88 million is on the order of 67% below the same period in pre-pandemic 2019 but an improvement of 4% month-on-month while moreover being 3% above the nearly $289.92 million recorded for the same period last year.

Heavyweight histrionics:

Nevertheless, Sanford C Bernstein Limited reportedly divulged that Macau has experienced an improvement of up to 15% month-on-month in aggregated mass-market gross gaming revenues although associated VIP receipts have sunk as the city’s junket enterprises continue to wind down. Regarding this latter category and the firm purportedly also noted that month-to-date volumes are down by as much as 50% on December, which was itself a depreciation of 45% year-on-year.

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Pessimistic prediction:

Asia Gaming Brief reported that the period leading up to the Chinese New Year holiday weekend has traditionally been a slow time for Macau’s casinos. But Sanford C Bernstein Limited purportedly disclosed that it now expects these venues to bring in aggregated gross gaming revenues for the four-day period from January 31 that could be as much as 70% down on 2019 levels.

Facilitating factors:

Despite this pessimistic prediction and Sanford C Bernstein Limited reportedly went further in asserting that some of Macau’s casino operators are logging strong forward bookings for the Chinese New Year holiday period and could buck its forecast should mainland residents be able to travel into the city without having to sit through quarantine. Yet the local government recently enacted a two-week ban on most international air travel while suspending ferry services to Shenzhen due to local outbreaks of coronavirus.

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Reportedly read a statement from Sanford C Bernstein Limited…

Recovery will be driven by mass and premium-mass along with non-gaming and in the long run should offset the negative profitability impact from junket retrenchment.”

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