Macau Gaming Plunges 13% as September Storm Strikes

Macau Casinos Impacted by Typhoon Saola, but Remain Open

Posted on: October 1, 2023, 03:38h.

Last updated on: October 1, 2023, 03:38h.

In early September, Macau was bracing for a significant storm as the local government ordered its six casino operators to temporarily close their resorts due to the approaching Typhoon Saola.

Macau casinos September gross gaming revenue
Dark, ominous clouds remain after Typhoon Saola passed by Macau in early September 2023. Though the storm largely spared the casino enclave, the temporary shutdown of its casinos was costly in terms of lost revenue. (Image: AFP)

With sustained winds of over 120 mph, Typhoon Saola approached Macau from the Philippine Sea, causing the local government to order the closure of nonessential businesses, including the casino resorts, prior to its landfall on September 1. Fortunately, Macau was spared significant damage, with only minimal structural damage reported and no deaths.

Despite the impact of the typhoon on Guangdong and Macau, the casino enclave experienced minimal damage. However, the temporary closures and travel disruptions resulted in financial losses for the casinos.

After the storm passed and the typhoon weakened and dissipated, Macau’s government allowed its casinos to reopen on September 2. However, the closures and travel changes contributed to a decline in gaming revenue for the month compared to August.

September Gaming Revenue Declines

According to the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, September’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the six operators in Macau totaled MOP14.93 billion (US$1.85 billion). This represents a more than 13% decline from August’s revenue of $2.13 billion.

In addition to the typhoon’s impact on travel plans, Typhoon Saola disrupted transportation and temporarily closed border entry points. Heavy rainfall in the days following the storm also affected bookings.

Gaming analysts at JPMorgan had predicted that September would be a challenging month for the casinos due to the typhoon, dubbing it a “month to forget.”

Although September’s gaming revenue still showed a significant year-over-year improvement, marking a 404% increase compared to September 2022, it marked the end of a three-month revenue rally. It was also the first month since April when revenue dropped below MOP15 billion (US$1.86 billion).

Overall, Macau casinos have collected almost $16 billion in revenue over the first nine months of the year. While this represents a 305% increase from 2022, it remains 41% lower than the revenue earned during the same period in 2019.

Golden Week Provides Opportunity for Recovery

Given the impact of the weather on September’s numbers, gaming analysts believe October will provide a better gauge of Macau’s gaming industry’s overall health. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Macau held the title of the richest gaming market in the world, but it has since been surpassed by Las Vegas and Nevada.

China’s Golden Week, taking place from September 29 to October 6, is traditionally one of the busiest periods for Macau. Before the pandemic, the vacation period attracted nearly half a million visitors to Macau. Citigroup analysts expect October to be Macau’s best gaming month since the emergence of COVID-19 in late 2019.

Citigroup projects that October’s gross gaming revenue will reach around MOP19 billion (US$2.35 billion).

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