For virtually all of 2020, casino operators in Macau could only stare at empty or near-empty gaming floors as the COVID-19 pandemic locked the city down. Stress and anxiety were the terms du jour for months on end as it seemed like the situation would never improve. Macau ended the year with almost no positive gross gaming revenue (GGR) and everyone was hoping for a strong rebound in 2021. The rebound is coming, even if it’s slower than first anticipated, and an upcoming holiday period could give the city a much-needed boost.
Labor Day Vacation Coming To Macau This Week
May 1 marks Labor Day in China and the country’s State Council has designated May 1-5 as the official Labor Day holiday period, or May Day Golden Week. This could prove important for Macau, which relies heavily on China as a feeder for its gaming market. With travel restrictions between mainland China and the city now greatly reduced, a substantial uptick in casino activity is expected.
According to Ambrose So Shu Fai, the vice-chairman and CEO of SJM Holdings, the Labor Day vacation period could mean as much as $50 million in daily gross gaming revenue (GGR) for Macau, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal. Although this would be much lower than what the city was used to before COVID-19, it’s a definite step in the right direction as Macau, as well as the entire global gaming industry, works to recover.
Casino Operators Increasingly Optimistic
SJM Holdings isn’t the only casino operator to see brighter days ahead. The deputy chairman and executive director of Success Universe Group, Hoffman Ma Ho Man, also believes that it’s possible to see a daily GGR of $50 million over the holiday period, supported by mass and premium mass gaming. Success Universe is behind Macau’s Ponte 16 casino resort, which operates under the gaming license held by SJM Holdings. Alvin Chau, the head of junket investor Suncity Group, also expects a rebound this weekend, but predicts that the VIP segment, already under fire from more Chinese financial controls, will only reach 30% of what it was before COVID-19 arrived.
Analysts believe the figure is achievable, as well. JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) said a week ago that a daily casino GGR of $50-$62.5 million is possible and that this would be considered a “success” for the city. The firm added that, if that level is reached, 2021 might see Macau GGR return to “70 percent to 80 percent” of where it was in 2019. With the city already starting to see significant gains this year, a 2021 recovery for Macau is looking brighter.