Macau’s gaming tables are back in operation

by William Brown Last Updated
Analysts track Macau?s slow and steady casino recovery

Nearly half of Macau’s gaming tables are back in operation.

Macau casinos had been allowed as of Monday to restart operation of an aggregate of 3100 gaming tables, representing about 46 per cent of the existing gaming tables in the market.

GGR Asia reports that the information was disclosed in a Monday press release by the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, known as DICJ.

Currently, there is an aggregate of 6754 gaming tables in Macau casinos.

A total of 38 of the city’s 39 active casinos had resumed operations as of Monday, said the DICJ.

Currently, only the Casino Macau Jockey Club in Taipa, located in the Macau Roosevelt Hotel is yet to restart operations.

The gaming venue is under the licence of SJM Holdings.

Macau casinos shuttered for 15 days to contain the spread locally of the Covid-19 disease linked to a novel coronavirus that has now spread globally, started to reopen on February 20, offering at the time about 1800 gaming tables.

This represented below 30 per cent of the existing inventory in the market.

The government gave operators the option however of applying for a grace period of up to 30 days before relaunch.

Resumption of gaming was however conditional on operators taking special precautions at the request of DICJ, in terms of density of seating for customers at gaming tables and ensuring there was a certain minimum space between tables in use.

In Monday’s release, the gaming regulator said it would continue to conduct site inspections to “safeguard the health and safety of workers and customers in the city’s casinos.”

Since February 20, the casino regulator said it had identified 28 cases where the government guidelines were not being followed.

Not everyone wearing face masks

Some of those included crowding of gaming tables and some patrons not wearing face masks.

In addition, the DICJ said it followed up on nine complaints, although it did not provide in its press release details on those matters.

Even after partial resumption of gaming business, investment analysts were not expecting the Macau market to see a fast ramping up of trade, due to factors including various travel restrictions imposed in China and beyond to try to contain the virus’ spread.

Brokerage Sanford C Bernstein said in a Monday note that it estimated March casino gross gaming revenue in Macau “to be down between 75 to 80 per cent”, assuming no significant improvement in travel arrangements.

The institution said that hold rate volatility could also affect its estimates for March.

“If VIP hold moderates and volumes do not improve, GGR could easily be down more than 80 per cent,” said analysts Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu.

“The operators we have spoken with do not see any clarity on timing of recovery at this time,” they added.

According to Sanford Bernstein’s estimates, Macau’s casino gross gaming revenue for the first eight days of March was US$174.9 million, with an average daily rate that is down 79 per cent from the prior-year period.

Macau casino GGR declined 87.8 per cent in February in year-on-year terms, negatively impacted by the 15-day shutdown ordered by the city’s government as part of the efforts to contain the spread locally of the Covid-19 disease.

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