Macau casino win in July 2022 totaled only MOP398 million (US$49 million), the lowest monthly revenue experienced by the six gaming operators during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus continues to greatly limit daily life in the Chinese gaming enclave. With the region on lockdown for much of July, and the casinos forced to shutter on government orders from July 11 through July 22, gaming activity last month was essentially nonexistent.
The casino closures came after the local government could not contain an outbreak of new cases that first sprung up in mid-June. The shutdown cost the public millions of dollars in lost wages, as casinos are Macau’s largest employers.
July’s gaming win represented a 95% year-over-year reduction. It’s the lowest monthly total since February 2020 when the pandemic began. July ’22 was also the worst gaming month in Macau since 2003 when the enclave was only beginning to expand the market by welcoming in additional casino operators.
The results are unsurprising,” commented John DeCree, a senior gaming analyst at CBRE Equity Research. “Casinos were closed … and much of the rest of the SAR was closed before and after that. More importantly, broader travel restrictions have been in place since late June.”
Through seven months, Macau casino win totals $3.3 billion. That’s down 54% compared with the same seven-month period in 2021, and 85% below pre-pandemic 2019 when the casinos won more than $21.5 billion January through July.
While July was a disappointment, there are reasons for optimism. The COVID-19 situation is improving, and the government has said the plan is to move forward with more normalcy in the months ahead.
However, there doesn’t appear to be any sort of timeline as to when Macau will resume quarantine-free cross-border travel with the mainland. That was put on hold in June.
Currently, visitors from the mainland, including neighboring Zhuhai, must test negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours before departing the mainland for Macau. More limiting is that upon return mainlanders are required to isolate for a minimum of seven days.
The travel conditions are keeping nearly all travelers at home. The Macau Government Tourism Office has not yet published July traffic, but June’s visitor count came in at just 380,671 travelers. In June 2019, more than three million people traveled to the region.
Because there is no schedule as to when Macau and the mainland might return to quarantine-free travel policies, DeCree says he doesn’t expect any meaningful recovery in terms of gaming income in August.
Casino Bidding Opens
The six gaming licenses held by Sands, MGM, Wynn, Melco, Galaxy, and SJM expire at 12:01 am local time on January 1, 2023. In anticipation of issuing the six casino operators fresh tenders for a 10-year period through 2032, the region’s newly formed committee that will oversee the process commenced its application period last week.
The Committee for Public Tendering of Concessions for the Operation of Casino Games of Fortune is fielding licensing renewal applications from the six casinos. The bidding period runs through September 14. It’s highly expected that all six current concession holders will receive fresh tenders.