Posted on: February 1, 2024, 11:27h.
Last updated on: February 1, 2024, 11:27h.
Macau casinos reported gross gaming revenue (GGR) of MOP19.33 billion (US$2.4 billion) in January 2024, a 67% year-over-year surge and 4.1% better than in December.
Macau’s strong start to the new year was the Chinese casino enclave’s second-best month post-COVID-19. Only one month last year — October — generated more gaming money for the six casino operators than did January.
January continues the positive pandemic recovery momentum for what was the world’s richest gaming industry before the coronavirus. Macau casino revenue returned to about 63% of the market’s 2019 level in its first year of recovery after China President Xi Jinping did away with his controversial “zero-COVID” policy in late 2022.
Analysts are forecasting the recovery to continue in 2024. Researchers at Morgan Stanley think Macau casino revenue will return to about 80% of pre-COVID levels this year.
Macau is today a vastly different operating climate for the casinos. The days of junket groups regularly bringing in VIP gamblers from the mainland are gone after the Chinese government directed Macau to better scrutinize the travel organizers.
The prosecution of Alvin Chau, the former Suncity Group boss, that resulted in an 18-year prison sentence for crimes of gambling offenses, fraud, and money laundering resulted in most junket groups folding shop.
Serious Crimes Decrease
Macau’s Judiciary Police this week released its 2023 report on enclave crime.
The filing showed that the overall number of gaming-related criminal incidences climbed 182% last year to 2,717 cases. The spike was expected, as normal life in Macau and China remained on hold in 2022 due to zero-COVID.
With 2023 being the year China and its two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) reopened and Chinese people became free to move about the country, crime naturally returned. However, law enforcement in Macau says the number of offenses was significantly reduced compared with 2019.
The gaming industry in Macau is developing healthily in the right direction, and serious crimes such as illegal gambling and money laundering through gaming operations have basically disappeared,” said Judiciary Police Commissioner Sit Chong Meng.
Sit explained that the number of gaming crimes was down 50% from 2019. Police also intercepted some 11,000 money exchanges between criminal associates. Law enforcement successfully prosecuted over 2,000 gang members who are no longer allowed to enter the enclave’s casinos.
January’s fruitful gaming revenue report provided shareholders with gains. Shares of Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, Melco Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment, and SJM Resorts were all up on Thursday.
Analysts are optimistic about February in terms of GGR. The Chinese Lunar New Year in 2024 comes in February, with most workers throughout China afforded eight days of paid time off from Feb. 10 — the actual new year date — through Feb. 17.
The “Year of the Dragon,” the 2024 New Year holiday is delivering strong bookings for casinos in Macau. Most luxury casino resorts on the Cotai Strip are fully booked or have only minimal availability during the holiday period. The average nightly rate for a five-star casino hotel room is nearly $400.