Macau casinos set for bumper May thanks to Golden Week

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
Macau casinos set for bumper May thanks to Golden Week

The upcoming May Day Golden Week activities in Macau won’t be subject to the same travel restrictions as the Chinese New Year celebrations in the city. reports that Swiss bank UBS arrived at the hypothesis by way of conversations with an unidentified local official.

The May Day festival, which is usually a major tourism driver for the casino centre, kicks off on May 1.

“We are now at a similar time frame before May Golden Week holiday and with vaccination efforts rolling out, and Macau not having had a local case in the last 12 months, the local official doesn’t expect to see the same travel restrictions as Chinese New Year,” the UBS note said.

Lunar New Year festivities are also a key contributor to Macau’s gaming and tourism dependent economy.

But rebound hopes on the back of that celebration were dashed this year, as the SAR implemented strict health and safety protocols stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

In early March, Macau halted COVID-19 vaccinations after a defective batch of BioNTech’s treatment was discovered.

That situation is rectified and locals and casino staff can soon resume receiving the injections.

“Macau had a hiccup with the BioNTech vaccine due to packaging, but the official says local expectations are for resumption of vaccinations this week,” said UBS.

Wider vaccine distribution is part of what’s been a stretch of green shoots for Macau, as the world’s largest gaming hub looks to shake off the effects of the pandemic.

Officials recently said that casinos no longer need to see negative COVID-19 tests to admit patrons.

Additionally, Macau officials are actively working with their counterparts in mainland China to expedite the approval process for individual visit scheme visas.

Prior to the pandemic, tourists could apply for those permits online.

But today, they must do so in-person, leading to long wait times that ultimately discourage some travellers from proceeding with trips to the gaming centre.

Lunar New Year comes up empty for Macau casinos

Though mostly expected because of travel restrictions, Lunar New Year was a dud for Macau and its gaming operators.

That puts some burden on Golden Week to pick up the slack.

Entering the first week of April, the consensus among analysts was that the SAR was a second half rebound story.

Given Golden Week’s proximity to the start of the back half of the year, that hypothesis could be imminently tested, with June gross gaming revenue figures telling the tale of the tape.

Citing an unidentified source, UBS said it believes it will hear by the middle of April about how open Macau will be for the May 1 to 5 festival.

Some analysts say it’s possible Macau will approach pre-pandemic gross gaming revenue levels in 2022, as it steals share from rival Asia-Pacific gaming markets.

Macau delays public consultation of new gaming laws 

Proposed gaming laws amendments in Macau are set to be put forward to the public after legislative elections in September, Gambling Insider reported in March.

The director of Macau Games and Entertainment Mediators Association Lam Kai Kuong said while the public consultation will not start before the election, in order to avoid extraneous problems.

“Candidates must canvas local opinions about different topics in their political platforms and it is not wise to make re-tendering one of the focus topics,” he said.

A round of public consultation on the region’s gaming law was announced by Macau chief executive Ho Iat Seng in 2020.

These talks would precede a re-tendering process for the six existing gambling licences, all of which are set to expire in June 2022.

It is believed that the disruption caused by the pandemic is behind the mooted postponement.

Dr Zeng Zhonglu, professor at the centre for Gaming and Tourism Studies at Macao Polytechnic Institute said he agreed with the likely delay.

“I think it’s very likely to start the public consultation of Macau’s gaming law after the September election,” he said.

“I believe the government has already prepared it, but it does not want to launch it too early.”

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