Third public consultation on Macau gaming industry cancelled

By Peter Lynch

A third public consultation on Macau’s gaming industry has been cancelled due to Typhoon Kompasu.

Local regulators put off the consultation meeting - which would allow officials to gauge public opinion on a proposed tightening of casino rules - due to safety reasons, with the city raising its warning signal to No. 8, a severe form of storm.

Two previous meetings have been cancelled due to restrictions amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. One public session remains before the 45-day consultation period concludes on 29 October 2021, with little clarity on what the new rules could look like.

Predictions meanwhile have been made about the recovery of the region’s casinos, with brokerage Sanford C Bernstein suggesting that the industry will only get back to pre-pandemic levels in 2025.

Analysts estimate that Macao’s 2021 gross gaming revenue (GGR) will reach just 31% of 2019 levels, which stood at MOP292.5bn ($36.5bn). This figure suggests that an estimated MOP91bn in GGR will be recorded, around MOP40bn less than the government’s aim of MOP130bn.

According to Bernstein, gradual growth in revenues will reach 59% by 2022, 87% by 2023, 96% by 2024, and 106% by 2025.

But after a decline in visitors during the recent October Golden Week, predictions for the short-term future of Macau remain negative.

“Golden Week was completely ruined due to the border closures, and we forecast October GGR to be down nearly 80% compared to 2019, but this is likely to be even worse if the border control measures with Zhuhai/China stay longer than expected,” noted Bernstein.

“At this point, we expect to see GGR improvement in November and December, but do not expect the opening up of Hong Kong or easing China visas until next spring and summer.”

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