Macau’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) recovery could take some time – perhaps until 2022 — before turnover there approaches levels seen in 2019 before the coronavirus smashed the casino industry.
In a note to clients Monday, Nomura Instinent analyst Harry Curtis estimates that second-quarter GGR on the peninsula will tumble 80 percent. He added that in the July through September period, Macau’s six concessionaires will experience an aggregate revenue tumble of 65 percent before business incrementally improves in the last three months of the year.
That jibes with forecasts from other research firms projecting an April GGR slide of up to 95 percent after February and March revenue tallies dropped nearly 88 percent and 80 percent, respectively. Next year is expected to be better, but Macau’s numbers still aren’t likely to be all the way back to where they were prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,
We believe that GGR can recover to $22.6bn, or roughly 62% of the 2019 level, if the reinfection rate is low,” said Curtis.
As for the fourth quarter, the analyst sees strong odds that turnover in the Special Administrative Region (SAR) perks up. But pent-up demand is likely to be restrained by travel restrictions and fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections.
Lots of Help Needed
Integral to next year being better than 2020 for Macau operators will be the SAR’s efforts to get Beijing to lift its halt on issuance of individual visit scheme (IVS) visas, the travel permits used by many gamblers from mainland China looking to enter the gaming hub.
Reinstating IVS is vital to helping Macau hit a 62 percent rebound in 2021 GGR, according to Instinet’s Curtis.
“To achieve this number, IVS needs to expand to larger, more distant provinces. Mass and group visitors must have confidence in health screening protocols at the borders, and social distancing policies on casino floors should be relaxed, thus increasing the number of operational gaming positions during peak periods,” said the analyst.
Curtis adds that if an effective coronavirus treatment is developed, that could help Macau operators exceed 62 percent of last year’s revenue in 2021.
2022: Almost Back to Normal
In 2019, Macau concessionaires generated a combined $36.5 billion casino win – a 3.4 percent drop from 2018. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s going to take some time for operators to get anywhere to close to last year’s levels.
For 2022, “We estimate that GGR recovers to roughly 90% of 2019 highs. Borders, IVS and casino operations have returned close to normal,” said Instinet’s Curtis.
That’s the year the six concessionaires are due to have their gaming licenses renewed, and it’s widely expected that prior to that happening, operators will be bringing new guestroom supply and non-gaming attractions online in an effort to show lawmakers the industry is committed to diversifying the peninsula’s casino-dependent local economy.