Macau’s casinos are recovering faster than expected, according to recent analyst reports. The region’s January gross gaming revenue (GGR) was the highest single-month total in three years. Analysts reported on Wednesday that the latest figures show that Macau’s recovery is moving two or three quarters ahead of initial estimates.
highest monthly total since January 2020
The report from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DIJC) showed January GGR of MOP$11.6bn (US$1.5bn). It is the highest monthly total since January 2020 and handily beat the GGR estimates of MOP$8bn (US$1bn) to MOP$9bn (US$1.1bn).
The easing of border restrictions on January 8 and the Chinese New Year festival last week were both big boosts to Macau. JP Morgan analyst DS Kim noted that operators are now comfortably “printing free cash flows” and believes that estimates for 2023 first quarter and total year results will need to be raised.
January’s figures point to a strong recovery in the mass market segment, as GGR was strong despite the major crackdown on junket operators and VIP gambling.
The results show spend-per-visitor figures on the rise, highlighting existing pent-up demand. This trend reflects what was seen in the US and other major gambling markets as they recovered from pandemic struggles.
watching February and March GGR results closely to see if it is a sustainable recovery
It is unclear as of yet if 2023 GGR could be greater than 2019 pre-pandemic levels, with the significant drop in VIP activity likely to have a major impact. Analysts are certainly encouraged by the mass market recovery and are bullish on the future. They will be watching February and March GGR results closely to see if it is a sustainable recovery.
A bright future
Visitor numbers highlight the major impact of easing travel restrictions. During the Chinese New Year holiday period, 451,047 visitors went to Macau, a 297% year-on-year rise. People from mainland China and Hong Kong clearly took advantage of the first major relaxing of travel restrictions in almost three years.
As Macau relies so heavily on the performance of its gaming sector, the region was hit hard during the pandemic, with revenues plummeting to extreme lows. Its position as the world’s biggest gambling hub was even impacted when annual gaming revenue in Las Vegas surpassed that of Macau in 2022 for the first time since 2010.
Casino companies are now bullish about what the future holds. Just last week, Las Vegas Sands announced it was planning to invest about US$3.8bn in Macau. The majority of the money will go toward funding non-gaming projects.