Macau casinos on a roll as holiday rush adds spark

August 21, 2023
Latest company news about Macau casinos on a roll as holiday rush adds spark

A recovery for Macau's casinos gained traction in April, with gross gaming revenue climbing 449.9 percent to hit a three-year high of 14.7 billion patacas (HK$14.3 billion) as Chinese tourists flocked in.

Data from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau yesterday showed figures better than a median analysts' estimate of a 393-percent year-on-year increase and the highest monthly takings since January 2020.


But it was still at least a third below the 2019 level.

The accumulated gaming revenue in the first four months of this year, however, has reached 49.4 billion patacas, surging 1.4 times year-on-year and surpassing the full-year figure for 2022.

China's current five-day Labor Day holiday will be a key test of the strength of the tourism boom.

Macau authorities expect at least 70,000 visitors a day on average, which would be about 64 percent of the average daily visitation rate in May 2019. And more than 100,000 visitors arrived on both Saturday and Sunday, government statistics indicated. Those figures were up from 60,000 a day recorded in the run-up to the weekend.

Travel data firm ForwardKeys pointed to Macau being the top destination for travelers from the mainland within Asia from April 17 to May 7, with bookings up 11 percent from pre-pandemic levels in 2019 versus a 32-percent fall in Hong Kong.

The rush of visitors to Macau has also come as the SAR grapples with an acute shortage of labor.

The chief operating officer of Sands China, Grant Chum Kwan-lock, said last month that the group opened only about 7,700 rooms in the first quarter, which meant it had shut 38 percent of its hotel units in the period.

But it expects to be operating close to full capacity by the summer season.

Galaxy Entertainment said its Raffles hotel would open in the second half of 2023 - a delay as earlier plans were an opening in the first half. "We've been actively working with the Macau government on labor requirements," Galaxy said.


Hotel occupancy in Macau is expected to reach around 90 percent, with some establishments booked fully for the holiday period.

Although the overall booking rate is slightly below pre-pandemic levels, prices are higher than in 2019, according to Morningstar. Rooms at some hotels in Cotai cost over 3,000 patacas a night.

In the meantime, some travelers have been struggling to find accommodation.

Outside Sands' Venetian resort, a 40-year-old man from Shanxi named Wang, who said he traveled to Macau frequently before the pandemic, was shocked by the crowds. "I couldn't even book a room," he said, "so I just have to wait."

While the casino recovery has been boosted by mainland arrivals, Credit Suisse said growth could flatten later in the year when pent-up travel demand normalizes.

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