Macau casinos used a strong five-day Golden Week holiday in May to boost total gross gaming revenue (GGR) to more than $1.31 billion.
The six licensed commercial casino operators topped May GGR expectations. The consensus among gaming analysts focused on the world’s richest gaming hub called for GGR of approximately $1.29 billion.
May gaming win was up 24.3 percent in April. Through the first five months of 2021, casino win is $5.32 billion, which is a nearly 29 percent increase in the same five months in 2020.
However, compared with January through May in 2019, 2021 GGR is down 66 percent, or more than $10.4 billion fewer gaming dollars won.
The region’s economy continues to shrink, as its casinos win fewer gaming dollars. Macau’s economy shrank 0.9 percent in the first quarter compared to a year ago. However, May casino numbers point to an early revival for Macau’s gaming industry.
Daily visitor arrivals into the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) showed an upward trend last month. More than 167,000 visitors entered through Macau’s border gates during Golden Week, with more than 93 percent originating from mainland China.
Golden Week visitor numbers surged 158 percent on February’s Spring Festival, which was held when Macau had stricter entry procedures. Gaming has naturally benefited from the increased visitation.
The daily run-rate has risen sequentially for six consecutive months to the highest post-pandemic print of MOP337 million versus MOP263 million in first-quarter 2021,” explained JPMorgan gaming analysts D.S. Kim, Derek Choi, and Livy Lyu.
The JPMorgan note added that mass gaming revenue has recovered to more than 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
Despite a recent uptick in new COVID-19 cases in nearby Guangzhou and Shenzhen — some 50 positive coronavirus infections reported there over the past week — Macau says the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) program that allows tourists to travel between the mainland and SAR remains in place. Macau explained that if new cases are detected in the region, the IVS system may be suspended.
“The ‘circuit breaker’ of our entry policy has two levels,” explained Macau Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Ao Ieong U.
“The middle-risk level indicates that if Macau reports local infections, it will restrict individuals living in impacted areas from leaving the city. Once local infections are over 10, the ‘circuit breaker’ would halt all the entrance and exit in Macau,” she added.
Stocks React Positively
Macau’s May casino numbers led to a positive Wall Street reaction for the gaming firms invested in Macau.
The four US-traded casinos operating in Macau — Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, and Melco Resorts — all saw their share prices increase during Tuesday trading.
As of early afternoon, Wynn was up three percent, Sands two percent, MGM 1.5 percent, and Melco a little less than one percent. Hong Kong-traded shares also went up, Galaxy Entertainment stock increasing 1.15 percent, and SJM Holdings up half a percentage point.
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