As the gambling industry as whole, and the global economy in general, is feeling the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Asia’s gambling capital Macau takes a massive hit.
Data released today has reported that revenue generated by Macau’s casinos in April has plummeted by 96.8% when compared with the same month last year. The month-to-month revenue figures also show a staggering drop, with April’s revenue 85.7% lower than March’s. What’s perhaps more astounding is that April’s revenue was just 25% of February’s - a shocking statistic considering all casinos in the region were closed for 15 days that month, meaning there was only two weeks of normal operation. Macau’s casinos generated a combined revenue of just MOP754m (£75.7m) in April compared to MOP3.1b (£311.3m) in February.
Travel restrictions responsible for drop
While lockdowns were slowly eased in Macau, China and Hong Kong in April, strict travel restrictions have still been in place, stopping people from crossing the border into the autonomous region of Macau. This is what most experts have blamed for the substantial drop in revenue.
Macau’s biggest feeder market, Guangdong, has a 14 day mandatory quarantine policy for citizens going in and out of its borders, all but stopping people in the region from visiting Macau’s casinos. Neighboring Hong Kong also has a 14 day quarantine policy that has just been extended until June 7th. While Macau itself has eased lockdown restrictions, and the doors to most of their casinos are open with reduced capacity, many of its major feeder markets in Asia still have their borders completely closed.
In April 2019, Macau’s casinos saw an average of 100,000 visits a day, while the number of daily visitors was down in the hundreds in April this year. According to official police statistics, one day at the start of the month saw a mere 210 people cross the border into Macau - a record low for the autonomous state.
Restrictions between Macau, Hong Kong and China set to ease
Travel restrictions between Macau, Hong Kong and mainland China are expected to ease from now on, so the signs point toward revenue starting to grow again, albeit at a slow and steady pace. Despite extending their 14 day quarantine policy until June 7th, Hong Kong officials have said that they are looking to work with their equivalents in Macau and mainland China to try and synchronise the measures of their quarantine policies. If successfully put into practice, this would mean that people travelling between the three regions would only have to do the 14 day quarantine at one end of their journey, rather than both. No concrete plans have been put forward and no timeline for this has been announced, so any synchronisation measures are probably at least a few weeks away from being put into practice.