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Border issues continue to plague Macao gaming revenue in August

Updated September 1, 2020 - 12:32 pm

Macao’s gross gaming revenue continued to languish in August, but the Asian casino region is preparing to see more tourists after border restrictions are lifted by nearby Chinese provinces.

Macao’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau on Tuesday reported gross revenue from the region’s casinos was down 94.5 percent to $166.7 million (U.S.) from the $3.041 billion reported in August 2019.

The numbers were virtually identical in July. Border restrictions from nearby Guangdong Province and Hong Kong, resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, have severely curtailed the flow of tourists into Macao. The end of those restrictions, announced last month, is scheduled to take effect this month.

For the first eight months of 2020, gaming revenue is down 81.6 percent to $4.561 billion (U.S.) in Macao.

Macao is particularly important to three Las Vegas companies that operate casinos in Macao: market leader Las Vegas Sands Corp., Wynn Resorts Ltd. and MGM Resorts International, which has a partnership operating its two properties there.

The August results have prompted one New York-based gaming analyst to revise revenue projections.

Carlo Santarelli of Deutsche Bank issued a report Tuesday projecting 2020 revenue of $4.999 billion, which would be a 74.6 percent decline from the previous year. But he expects the market to come back strong in 2021 and 2022. Santarelli is projecting a 200.1 percent expansion in 2021 to an estimated $15.003 billion and an additional 9.9 percent increase to $16.488 billion in 2022.

In a related matter, Asian news outlets are reporting that the General Association of Administrators and Promoters for the Macau Gaming Industry, a trade group that represents gaming interests, is calling on Macao’s government to speed up the licensing renewal process.

Concessions to operate casinos in Macao are due to expire at the end of June 2022. In a presentation at the University of Macau, association director Lam Kai Kong said Monday that licenses should be extended by an “appropriate time,” although he didn’t specify how long he thought it should be.

Macao’s government has the legal authority to extend licenses by five years, but Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng has not indicated whether it would do that.

A license extension would affect Sands, Wynn, MGM and three concessions run by Asian companies.

The renewal process, which has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, has been in the spotlight as trade relationships between the United States and China have worsened in the past few months.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates six properties in Macao.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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