Macao gaming revenue slumped to an 18-month low in March, Macao’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau reported Friday.
It was the second month this year that gross gaming revenue was below 2021 levels. The market showed a 6.1 percent rebound in February, thanks primarily to increased visitation during Chinese New Year celebrations.
The bureau reported revenue of $454.7 million (U.S.), a 55.8 percent decline from $1.028 billion in March 2021.
For the first quarter of 2022, Macao’s 41 casinos generated $2.201 billion, 24.8 percent below the $2.927 billion from the first three months of 2021. In the first quarter of pre-pandemic 2019, Macao’s casinos won more than $9.4 billion during the same three months.
Ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak under China’s zero-COVID policy limiting domestic and international leisure travel continued to affect tourism to the Chinese enclave. Lockdowns in nearby Zhuhai and Shenzhen kept potential visitors away from Macao’s casinos and tourist attractions.
Macao’s gaming figures are particularly important to three Las Vegas companies: Las Vegas Sands Corp., the region’s market leader with six properties, Wynn Resorts Ltd., with three resorts, and MGM Resorts International, which partners with Pansy Ho on two properties.
The Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau on Thursday indicated that revisions to Macao’s VIP junket operations procedures have been sent to Macao’s Legislative Assembly. The amendments, if approved, would address player disputes and would outline disciplinary action for criminal activity committed by junket agents and their contracted associates.
The renewal of concessions and subconcessions — the licensing of Macao’s casinos by the government — is expected by June 26, the current expiration date.
The Legislative Assembly has indicated a new gaming law would be approved before July and that suitability hearings would occur through the end of the year for license renewal. In their respective fourth-quarter earnings calls, executives from the three Las Vegas companies said they were happy with the licensing renewal process and anticipate continuing to operate their resorts.
Some Asian analysts have projected that the renewals could jump-start visitation to Macao by the fourth quarter of 2022.
The Review-Journal is owned by the Adelson family, including Dr. Miriam Adelson, majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Las Vegas Sands President and COO Patrick Dumont.