Macau showed very early signs of recovery in October, recording MOP3.9bn ($481m/ £417m/ € 484m) in net gaming revenue, just 10.7% below the 2021 total.
This compares with the MOP2.96bn reported by the special administrative region for September, which was 49.6% below the 2021 total. This represents a 31.8% increase month-on-month in revenue. However even this modest recovery is still 85.3% below the pre-pandemic 2019 October revenue of MOP26.4bn.
The continuing recovery in monthly revenue likely reflects the relaxing of Covid-19 measures that occurred during the month. The former Portuguese colony had been over three months without a recorded case until Sunday, when an outbreak was reported at the MGM Cotai hotel and casino.
The Cotai has been locked down since then, with neither guests nor staff allowed to leave the premises until the period of quarantine is over. Additionally, all of Macau’s 700,000 residents are expected to conduct daily rapid flow tests.
The city also relaxed visa rules from today, allowing mainland Chinese citizens to apply via an online system – rather than requiring in-person applications as has been the norm since the onset of the pandemic. Group visas will also be allowed under the new rules, which will pave the way for the resumption of package tours.
Macau chief executive Ho Iat-Seng predicted in the policy’s announcement that subsequently daily visits could increase to 40,000 per day.
However, the new visa policy has an in-built “circuit-breaker” mechanism which will suspend the new rules if a new Covid-19 outbreak is reported – meaning that the policy could be halted if the current outbreak increases in scale.
The ongoing situation led to Las Vegas Sands CEO Rob Goldstein emphasising the uncertainty of the gaming sector in city in the company’s Q3 earnings call:
“I think we should be careful,” he said. “Predictions of Macau had been erroneous the last couple of years because we don’t know who’s going to come and we don’t know when they’ll close the market. It’s been stopping for so long. It’s kind of silly for us to pontificate on exact gains in EBITDA.
“Could we be EBITDA-positive? Sure. It’s positive tomorrow if things open up and visitation returns. And that’s going to happen at some point. But I think it’s difficult for us to tell you the fourth quarter could be EBITDA-positive without knowing what effect the visitors team will have in November and then also not knowing how zero Covid will happen. So there’s certainly unknowns in Macau that are very difficult to guess.”