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Macau income drops as travel restrictions continue

Macau’s income from GGR may fall below the predicted MOP130bn ($16.20bn) for 2021, said Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong. 

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The main reason behind the declining figures is the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The secretary noted that gaming revenue for August dropped by 47% month-on-month to MOP4.44bn, compared to July with MOP8.44bn, mainly because travellers to Macau had to face stricter border restrictions during the last summer month. 

On average, casinos in Macau pay 35% of their GGR as a tax to the government.

The travel restrictions, especially for visitors outside of mainland China, are likely to persist into 2022 as well, according to Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. 

“In the short-term, we expect GGR improvement to begin in the fourth quarter, but more significant travel impediment removals are not likely until next year,” said the analysts. They expect September GGR to reach approximately 30% of 2019 GGR, with October rising to 40% of 2019. 

“As Covid cases have subsided and travel impediments gradually relax, we expect GGR to be back to April/May levels in October. We expect mass to recover to above 2019 levels in 2023 and then achieve low double-digit growth as the structural mass/premium mass drivers remain in place.

“Longer term, Individual Visit Scheme eVisa, group visa restart, and Hong Kong travel resumption will be necessary to drive GGR upwards,” added the experts. 

Pre-pandemic, Hong Kong provided approximately 15% of Macau’s casino GGR, but currently, Macau maintains a quarantine protocol for visitors from Hong Kong. The city has laxer travel regulations only for the mainland, but analysts caution not to put too much faith in the upcoming Golden Week holiday in October, as the figures and numbers have fluctuated in the past.

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