Gaming in Macau continued to recover in May but is still far below the pre-pandemic levels according to the monthly report by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ).
2023 Upward Industry Trend Continues
The agency overseeing the gaming market in the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China revealed that in May gambling operators registered gross gaming revenue (GGR) of MOP$ 15.57 billion ($1.92 billion), an increase of 366% compared to MOP$ 3.34 billion ($413 million) in May 2022.
The May GGR is 5.73% up to MOP$ 14.72 billion ($1.82 billion) registered by the market in April, confirming the market upward trend from February but the rate of sequential monthly increase continued to decrease.
GGR for the first five months of 2023 amounted to MOP$ 64.93 billion ($8.02 billion), which compared to the amount registered in the same five-month period in the year prior (MOP$ 23.79 billion ($2.94 billion)) represents an increase of 173%.
GGR in May 2023 is down 40% compared to the pre-pandemic level of MOP$ 25.95 billion ($3.21 billion) registered in May 2019, while the cumulative figure is down 48.3% from MOP$ 125.69 billion ($15.53 billion), suggesting that the market is still far from reaching the point from which it began descending.
The May GGR figure was also positively influenced by the “May Day” Golden Week holiday period at the start of the month during which international visitations reached almost half a million, bringing hotel occupancy rates to 85%.
Lifting the Restrictions Raised Optimism
After seeing the gambling industry plunge by 50% in 2022 and the New Year’s holiday visitations disappoint, the Macau government removed quarantine requirements for inbound travels to the SAR for all nationalities starting from January 8, allowing visitations from mainland China to resume. Testing requirements for visitors from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were also lifted.
The effect of the measures was seen almost immediately and the market registered an increase of 82.5% in January GGR, stirring optimism among investors that the industry is on a path to recovery. Later in February, Morgan Stanley issued a note, revising upwards its 2023 GGR and EBITDA estimates.
Macau’s chief executive Ho Iat Seng was even more bullish than investment banks, claiming that the gaming industry in the SAR could easily achieve MOP$ 130 billion ($16 billion) in 2023 GGR, confident of the continuing recovery in the year and beyond.
AGA’s president and chief executive officer Bill Miller was the latest to express his optimism about the gaming industry recovery in Macau. Speaking at the three-day G2E Asia in Singapore, Miller pointed to the SAR, the Philippines and Singapore as examples of strong recovering markets in this part of the world.