Casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Macau fell by 90.0 percent year-on-year in September, to MOP2.21 billion (US$277 million), according to data from the city’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, released on Thursday. Judged sequentially, the latest monthly tally was up 66.2 percent from the MOP1.33 billion achieved in August.
Thursday’s data meant that the Macau market’s GGR tally for the first nine months of 2020 stood at nearly MOP38.61 billion, down 82.5 percent from the prior-year period.
Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd said in a note issued after the September data were released, that the year-on-year performance had been “weaker than expected,” negatively affected by a “soft… ramp” in terms of growth of visitor volume to Macau, and “concerns over money flows” to the city’s gambling market.
September saw “weaker than expected” visitor volume from neighbouring Guangdong province, “on the back of visa restart in late August”. The institution identified other negative factors as being “weakness in VIP, and hold,” on the part of the casino operators, said its analysts Vitaly Umanksy, Tianjiao Yu, and Kelsey Zhu.
Starting from August 26 as part of travel-easing measures following the initial impact of Covid-19, eligible residents from the neighbouring mainland province of Guangdong have been allowed to apply for an exit visa for tourist trips to Macau, either as part of a tour group or under China’s Individual Visit Scheme programme. Such a measure was therefore in place for whole of the September-GGR reporting period.
From August 12, residents of Zhuhai, immediately next door to Macau, had been able to apply for such tourism permits. Since September 23, such applications can come from people in any location on the mainland.
Sanford Bernstein had said in a September 21 note that since Zhuhai and Guangdong tourism visa issuance resumed on August 12 and August 26, respectively, the average daily tally of visitors to Macau had “climbed to 17,457 (September 15), 18,400 (September 16), 16,713 (September 19), [and] 11,900 (September 20),” up from approximately 5,000 daily in early August and fewer than 1,000 in June.
Past research has indicated many IVS permit holders stay overnight in Macau. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, a high level of Macau hotel occupancy was often seen as a positive indicator for levels of gambling in the territory.
(Updated, 2.44pm, Oct 1)