Last month was not the best month for Macau’s gaming scene, but it certainly wasn’t the worst on record, either. Every month brings new challenges and hurdles that have to be overcome, and June is just the latest to keep Macau’s authorities and gaming properties on their toes. Casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) took a major hit compared to the previous month, a slide that no one wanted to see, but there is a little bit of good news on the horizon. Certain COVID-19 restrictions related to travel through Hong Kong are going to be lifted.
Macau GGR Heads in the Wrong Direction
According to the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ, for its Portuguese acronym), Macau’s gaming GGR last month was $817.7 million. This is 37.4% less than a month earlier, when the city’s casinos reported $1.3 billion in gross proceeds. The good news is that, despite the massive drop, the figure is still over 812% better than what Macau’s casinos reported in June 2020. At that time, the coronavirus pandemic had a firm grip on the city and didn’t appear to be willing to let go.
Since the beginning of the year, the gaming scene in Macau has improved, even if it still has a lot of work to do. April and May delivered significant relief, but June wasn’t able to continue the pattern. The six-month period through the end of June brought GGR of $6.12 billion, which is 45.5% more than the same period last year. Even as COVID-19 was taking control of the city, Macau’s casinos were able to report $4.21 billion in GGR for the first six months of 2020.
Travel Between Hong Kong and Macau Eased
Recently, industry analysts took a dim view of a fast recovery in Macau, pointing out that continued travel restrictions were hurting the city. A travel bubble between certain parts of mainland China and Macau was helping to ease the economic pressure the city was feeling. However, a quarantine in place for travel from Hong Kong was a continued problem. Parts of that problem are now going to go away, which will allow Macau to continue to work toward a complete rebound of pre-COVID-19 levels.
Visitors arriving in Macau from Hong Kong have been required to quarantine for 14 days. However, this will soon be changed. According to a note from JP Morgan Securities, quarantine-free travel is coming for arrivals from Hong Kong, as long as visitors are willing to abide by certain rules. Among these are restrictions on places they can visit, limited to casino resorts and hotels, and the prohibition on the use of hotel swimming pools.
JP Morgan analysts DS Kim, Derek Choi and Livy Lyu explained in their update, “Our checks with some Macau hotels suggest the government sent out a notice a few days ago on a planned reopening of the border.” They added, “We believe a limited reopening scheme” between the two cities “could be applicable only to fully-vaccinated travellers, possibly including mainlanders entering from Hong Kong.”