Macau Casinos Post Worst-Ever Monthly Revenue After Coronavirus Outbreak

  • Gross gaming revenue fell by 88% year-on-year in February, reaching only $387m
  • Figures for the first two months of 2020 were down 50% compared to 2019
  • The island’s casinos resumed operations after a 15-day shutdown to contain the outbreak
  • Local authorities want to reassert Macau's position as the world's number one gambling capital
Macau nighttime cityscape
Gross gaming revenue for Macau casinos dropped by 88% year-on-year in February, following a two-week mandatory shutdown of operations over the coronavirus outbreak. [Image:]

A bad start to 2020

The gross gaming revenue for the casinos in Macau fell by 88% in February as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

drop is the biggest one observed so far in the jurisdiction

The figures from the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau detailed how the 41 casinos on the island only managed to post revenues of $387m during February. Analysts were estimating an 80% decline, with the actual result being worse than expected. In comparison, the figures for February 2019 gaming revenue was $3.18bn.

The year-on-year drop is the biggest one observed so far in the jurisdiction since casino gambling became legal on the island. Macau is the only place in China that is allowed to offer casino gambling. 

All Macau casinos closed their doors to the public during a mandatory 15-day shutdown period. Most of the facilities have since reopened, albeit with restrictions in place to try to contain any further potential issues. 

Not the first year to show a decrease

In total, the first two months of 2020 showed a 50% decrease over the same period in 2019. But revenue figures in 2019 were also disappointing in comparison to previous years, with a year-on-year drop of 3.4%. Only four months in 2019 generated an increased revenue sum when compared to 2018.

first two months of 2020 showed a 50% decrease over the same period in 2019

Some of the reasons attributable to these recent decreasing numbers include trade tensions between China and the United States, protests in Hong Kong, and further competition from other gambling hubs in the region.

The local government is trying to ensure that this downturn in fortunes does not lead to job cuts. Authorities want to cement the island’s position as the number one destination for gambling in the world. Gaming revenue during any given week in Macau is usually higher than that generated in Las Vegas for an entire month.

Curbing the coronavirus spread

The temporary closure of casinos in Macau began on February 5 and lasted until February 20. There were fears that the shutdown period would be extended if the virus was not contained. However, as no new cases were confirmed, the gambling facilities were allowed to resume their operations.

The safety measures implemented at casinos require all patrons and staff to wear face masks, customers’ body temperatures to be checked upon entry, and a health e-declaration. The tables and machines have been spread apart to minimize human contact. 

Heavy reliance on gambling

The majority of the economy in Macau depends on income generated by the country’s casinos. The ongoing restrictions on visitors to the region will also be affecting the bottom line going forward for the local economy. 

All casinos bar two were quick to get back in business since the temporary closure ended.

The Casino Macau Jockey Club and the Casino Taipa have not yet requested permission from the island’s gambling regulator to reopen. Both venues have a license through SJM Holdings.

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