More than two and a half years on from the initial outbreak of Covid-19, Macau has experienced its worst month of casino business during the entire pandemic, with casinos taking just $49million across the month. This comes as little surprise, as the small tourist exclave closed all casinos for close to two weeks due to an outbreak of the Omicron variant, meaning that even upon reopening there was sluggish take-up among potential casino players.
Macau is considered to be among the main contenders for the unofficial title of the world’s casino gaming capital, usually doing more business in a year than even Las Vegas. However, July’s outbreak combined with China’s continuing policy on quarantine has led to a severe blow to the city state’s casino revenues, and attention will now turn to how Macau responds in August. A second-consecutive month of sluggish takings would lead to considerable alarm within the sector.
Against the backdrop of these sluggish takings, Macau has this week announced a reduction in the period of quarantine its visitors are now expected to undertake. From an initial spell of ten days, visitors to Macau will now only be expected to spend seven days in self-isolation. This may be a start in introducing some element of normality in a city-state that has not had a case of community transmission since the 23rd of July, but anyone expecting it to lead to an uptick in casino performance might find themselves in for a surprise.
The nature of casino breaks for international travellers is that they are usually short-hop breaks with a few days spent at the destination. It is unrealistic to expect that a flood of casino customers will suddenly pile into Macau, quarantine for seven days and then gamble for two or three nights. It is particularly fanciful to imagine that this will happen given that the only visitors permitted in Macau are either those on essential business or nationals from the Chinese mainland. Insiders in the casino industry indicate that for as long as mainland China has a “zero Covid” policy, there will continue to be fewer visitors in Macau, and those who are there will be those who have to be for work reasons. The impact this has on the total win at casinos within the state will be pronounced going forward, and figures for the coming months will tell us exactly how pronounced.