Tourists fuel comeback
Amid a tsunami of Lunar New Year tourists descending upon China’s Special Administrative Regions (SARs) of Macau and Hong Kong, comes reports of massive spikes in daily gaming revenue for the former and, for the latter, the smashing of a betting record that has stood since 1997.
Macau’s daily gaming revenue for mid-January was nearly triple that of late 2022
Reports emerged Wednesday of two Deutsche Bank analysts revealing that Macau’s daily gaming revenue for mid-January was nearly triple that of late 2022. Twitter user Chad cited the bank’s Carlo Santarelli and Steven Pizzella as saying Macau’s mid-January daily revenue of around $39m dwarfed comparative 2022 figures:
Just a 45-minute ferry ride away in Hong Kong, Bloomberg reports that over 70,000 people attended the SAR’s Sha Tin racetrack on Tuesday for a Chinese New Year horse racing event.
The result, as the South China Morning Post cited the Hong Kong Jockey Club as stating, was a record HK$2.06bn ($263m) taken in bets, the highest in a day since 1997.
Macau’s gambling industry was once a well-oiled machine, greased by the cash of illegal junket operations. A crackdown on gambling crime figures like the jailed Suncity kingpin Alvin Chau, however, coupled with the pandemic and China’s harsh COVID-19 travel strictures, caused the machine to grind to a halt.
Amid grave worries about the future of the industry in Macau, China relaxed its travel restrictions for worldwide travel in January for the first time in three years. What was a trickle of tourists since the pandemic has since turned into a flood as gambling-starved Chinese and Hong Kong mainlanders make a bee-line for the Las Vegas of the East.
As social activist Sana Khan shared via Twitter, the return of the hordes of visitors to Macau’s casinos over the holiday period is in “stark contrast” to what had become the norm.
The Macau government said in a statement the region welcomed over 71,000 visitors on Monday, the highest daily figure recorded since the pandemic.
good to see people back
“I come here to gamble,” Reuters cited a man with the surname Lam as saying. Lam, who made the trip to Macau from Guangdong province in southern China, said Macau was “lifeless during lockdown” and that it was good to see people back.
Turning the tide
While Macau’s highest daily passenger arrivals over the Lunar New Year of 71,000 dwarfed that of Hong Kong’s high of 14,892, Hong Kong still has COVID-19 testing requirements in place for visitors from mainland China, which it is seeking to eliminate soon.
For Macau, however, 2023 is an opportunity to exorcise its 2022 GGR demon of just $5.25bn, seen in stark contrast to its 2019 GGR of $36.4bn. That Deutsche Bank analysts believe Macau is already in line to beat 2019 records is enough to give the entire industry and supporting businesses genuine belief that the good times could be back to stay.
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