The Macau city leader is confident the gambling hub will rebound in 2023 following an uplifting figure for January, which saw casino revenue surge amid China’s reopening and the week-long Lunar New Year. Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng has now reiterated his belief that gross gaming revenue for the year will reach MOP 130 billion (US$16 billion).
The city leader further said he is “confident” the goal is attainable and repeated his administration’s rosy forecast a second time in more than a month, reports Macau Business. This renewed sense of confidence comes after the city raked in about MOP 11.6 billion ($1.4 billion) in casino revenue last month, the highest since January 2020.
Forecasting Macau’s gaming industry in 2023 is tricky after officials overhauled the industry in recent years, and with VIP junket operators, which kept casinos’ private high-roller rooms bustling, now largely forced out. As a result, the casinos are focusing on the mass market.
While the industry’s outlook is clouded, Ho said: “This year’s GGR of MOP 130 billion is our target and we are confident that we can reach it.” Macau would receive about $6.4 billion in gaming taxes from that figure.
Banking giant JP Morgan’s analyst earlier predicted that the first 19 days of February had generated MOP 7.2 billion ($891.3 million), or a daily average of MOP 375 to MOP 380 million. And last week, investment bank Morgan Stanley estimated February’s gaming revenue at MOP 11.2 billion ($1.38 billion).
To achieve the government’s goal, it would take a monthly average of MOP 10.83 billion, notes the cited source. However, such figures do not take into account seasonality. The projected figures would be welcomed news, as the SAR’s gross gaming revenue hit a new annual low in 2022, with only MOP 42.2 billion ($5.2 billion) made over 12 months, down 51.4% compared to a year earlier.
However, many believe a rebound could be in place this year after authorities in late November lifted “zero-COVID,” a policy that prompted lockdowns in the event of new coronavirus outbreaks. The strict scheme kept life on hold for much of the past three years, with a heavy impact on the gambling hub.
Moreover, in other positive news for the industry, Macau authorities announced over the weekend they are dropping COVID 19-related mask requirements for most locations, a rule change that took effect Monday. Casino operators have dropped requirements for clients and staff following the announcement.
The six concessionaires – Melco Resorts, MGM China, Galaxy Entertainment Group, Sands China, SJM Resorts and Wynn Macau – are no longer requiring masks in their facilities, with experts noting the change is positive, but that some workers may still proactively choose to keep their masks on.