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Asia round-up: Over 40,000 of Macau’s arrivals for January are from Hong Kong

Macau’s visitors tally sees a 25% year-on-year increase for January

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Almost 700,000 visitor arrivals have been recorded in Macau for January 2022, showing a 25% increase year-on-year; although this was a 15% decline compared to December 2021, according to data released by the Statistics and Census Service.

Data showed most of the visitors arrived from mainland China (642,016), 44,380 from Hong Kong and 7,896 from Taiwan.

The number of visitors that arrived by land amounted to 630,805; 50,644 arrived by air and 12,981 by sea.

Saipan regulator denied right to comment in licence review case

A decision of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Superior Court has denied the Saipan casino regulator the right to present an additional reply, in review of a decision to suspend Imperial Pacific International’s (IPI) casino licence.

The comment request was filed by the Casino Commission on 6 January 2022, explaining that IPI’s former CEO Ray Yumul had compiled a list of new arguments to present to the court.

IPI had its licence suspended in April 2021 after failing to comply with orders to pay a $6.6m penalty, along with a $15.5m annual casino exclusive licence fee, as well as a $3.1m annual casino regulatory fee.

The casino expects to get a response on the fate of its licence next month; however, the regulator claims the authorities are thinking of cancelling its permit.

According to Yumul, IPI was forced to close its doors due to Covid and its revenue subsequently fell to zero.

Surprise inspections on VIP rooms conducted by Macau’s police

China’s Covid outbreak is largely under control, but the largest feeder market, Guangdong, is still reporting occasional local cases... Guangdong is now facing the pressure of imported cases from Hong Kong, impacting visitationVitaly Umansky

Multiple unannounced inspections on numerous VIP rooms under the control of gaming concessionaires have been conducted by Macau’s Judiciary Police.

According to a report released by the police, a total of 27 criminal investigators, along with inspectors from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, visited several casinos in Macau and Cotai between 16 and 17 February.

The report stated that no irregularities have been found in the VIP rooms, but the police found two people overstaying their visas and six people involved in illegal currency exchanges.

According to the authorities, they will continue to strengthen cooperation with the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau in the joint effort of maintaining order and security in casinos and surrounding areas.

Macau’s February GGR affected by Omicron variant, Bernstein says

According to a Bernstein report, Macau’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) has seen a 57% decrease week-on-week in the seven-day period from 14 to 20 February.

Macau has seen solid growth since the start of the Chinese New Year, but the increasing wariness of the Omicron outbreak has slowed this pace.

The week-on-week decrease was bigger than expected “partly due to new Covid cases in Zhuhai and greater travel tightening, due to Hong Kong's outbreaks and concern about spread into China,” said Bernstein Analyst Vitaly Umansky.

He explained: “China’s Covid outbreak is largely under control, but the largest feeder market, Guangdong, is still reporting occasional local cases and the land border city, Zhuhai, again reported a local case on 18 February. Guangdong is now facing the pressure of imported cases from Hong Kong, impacting visitation.”

Umansky also commented on the VIP hold, saying it was substantially down in recent weeks.

The report noted that Macau’s month-to-date GGR was MOP$6.3bn ($784m), down 65% compared to February 2019, but showing a 21% increase compared to February 2021.

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