Macau gaming revenue slipped for the fourth consecutive month after China imposed travel curbs to contain the deadly viral outbreak and visitor arrivals plunged, adding to the woes of the struggling gambling mecca.
- Gross gaming revenue was 22.1 billion patacas ($2.8 billion) in January, down 11.3% from a year earlier, according to data from the Gaming Inspection & Coordination Bureau. That was worse than the median analyst estimate of a 9.7% fall.
- The virus is yet another setback for the world’s largest gaming hub after a dismal year weighed down by the trade war, Hong Kong protests, a crackdown on online gaming and a slowing Chinese economy.
- Arrivals in Macau during Lunar Chinese New Year slipped 78% for the Jan. 24-30 period compared to last year, with mainland visitors plunging 83% as China halted visitor visas to the gambling enclave and banned group tours. Macau has also initiated border restrictions.
- The virus outbreak is a major blow for casino operators and couldn’t have come at a worse time as millions of Chinese travel and shop every year during the festive season. The Lunar holiday break typically gives about a 10% boost to average Macau casino revenue, according to Bloomberg Intelligence’s analyst Margaret Huang.
- Analysts are not too optimistic about February revenue also as the infection continues to spread globally. The high contagion rates imply the impact may last longer than SARS did in 2003, according to UOB Hay Kian’s Robin Yuen, and will hurt both the VIP and casual gamblers.
- The Bloomberg Intelligence index of Macau operators fell 10% in January, slipping sharply in the last 10 days as the infection spread rapidly across countries. That compared to a 6.7% decline in the benchmark Hang Seng Index.