If Macau’s casino scene is any indication, the global gaming industry is on a path toward recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. 2021 got off to a slow start, but things have continued to pick up since then, with May showing more gross gaming revenue (GGR) gains as the Asian casino hub comes back to life. With Macau government officials and lawmakers ready to tackle the issue of new gambling laws next week, the continued improvements should give them more confidence to establish major reforms.
Macau GGR up 92% as May Unfolds
April was a good month for Macau’s casinos as they reported a total of $1.05 billion in revenue, a gain of over 1,000% from a year earlier when COVID-19 firmly had its grip on the city. May continues to show more a rebound, supported by the Golden Week holiday that kicked off the month, and the GGR for the first nine days of May was 92% higher than it was in the last week of April. The improvement comes as visitation still remains low due to travel restrictions and individual concerns.
The average daily rate (ADR) across the first nine days of this month was $62.45 million, almost double the $32.47 million reported for the final days of April. Golden Week, which ran from May 1 through May 5, saw an ADR of $78.68 million, which represents GGR that is 60% of what it was in the same period in 2019. As expected, ADR dropped following Golden Week, to $42.46 million, but is still tracking higher and headed in the right direction.
What strengthens the impact of these results in that they come as visitation still isn’t back to pre-COVID-19 levels. This year’s Golden Week holiday period saw only 25% of the traffic reported for the holiday in 2019; however, mass GGR was 70% of what it was that year. With this in mind, analysts believe that May’s GGR could reach as much as $1.374 billion, which would be 40% of what it was in May 2019. June could bring GGR that is as much as 50% of that from June 2019.
It’s Time for a Legislative Overhaul
With improvements in its gaming activity coming, Macau is ready to seriously dive into the topic of overhauled gaming regulations. It has been known that new laws would be coming later this year, most likely in September; however, the COVID-19 debacle hasn’t given city officials much time to develop a plan of attack. That is changing, though, and real progress is going to be made in Macau’s new gaming framework.
Adriano Marques was just given a two-year extension to his contract as head of Macau’s gambling regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, and that will help provide continuity as the city’s legislators and government officials meet next Monday to discuss new gaming laws. A meeting has been convened to discuss proposed amendments to Macau’s gaming framework, but the details of those amendments have not been made public.
Time is running out to formally introduce the new gaming regulations. All six of Macau’s casino concessionaires have their current licenses in place only until June of next year and need to know what they’re in for so they can start preparing for what could be a completely different gaming experience in the city.