Macau operators forecast to post $1b quarterly loss

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
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Macau casino operators are expected to post a loss of more than $1 billion collectively in their earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for the quarter ending June 30, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Each of the six operators will likely have negative quarterly EBITDA when they start reporting their earnings, according to the survey of eight brokerages.

SJM Holdings and MGM China Holdings are expected to lead the tally of year-on-year declines.

Macau’s casino industry has seen gaming revenues plunge by more than 90 per cent for three straight months starting April, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused the closure of borders.

Recovery prospects in the region have been brightened since neighbouring Chinese province Guangdong lifted quarantine requirements for travellers returning from Macau in early July.

China has also resumed issuing its individual visas.

Sanford C Bernstein analyst Vitaly Umansky said: “The initial enthusiasm around border easing is a sign of some pent up demand, but without IVS restart, V-shape recovery is not expected.”

Patrons slowly returning to Macau’s casinos

Macau has been receiving about 2000 tourists a day following the relaxation of its quarantine arrangements for travel to Macau’s neighbouring Chinese mainland province Guangdong, compared to “a few hundred” in the weeks prior, a senior Macau official said on Friday.

Director of Macau Government Tourism Office Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes described the improved daily tally as still “low” relative to the numbers before the pandemic.

She was speaking in an interview with the Chinese-language radio service of the city’s public broadcaster TDM.

The relaxation of quarantine arrangements for travel from Macau to Guangdong came into effect last Wednesday.

Mainlanders had mostly not needed to undergo any form of quarantine to enter Macau, but they had been subject to a 14-day quarantine rule when going back via Guangdong.

Investment analysts said that had acted as a deterrent for people to come to Macau in the first place.

Nonetheless, it was also announced on Monday that all would-be customers of Macau casinos would from Wednesday, need a certificate showing they had recently tested negative for COVID-19.

A number of analysts said in commentary on changes that obstacles remained to large-scale tourism.

On Friday, Ms Senna Fernandes suggested it might take a “relatively long time” to see Macau’s inbound tourism recovery to pre-COVID levels.

Mainland Chinese customers have been – since the time of Macau market liberalisation and China’s further opening up, at the start of the current century – a major source for Macau’s inbound tourists.

In 2019, the city had more than 39 million visitors, nearly 71 per cent of them from mainland China, according to data from Macau’s Statistics and Census Service.

Analysts say that until China once again issues exit visas to visit Macau under the country’s Individual Visit Scheme.

It will be hard to get a major ramp up of gross gaming revenue.

IVS allows mainland residents from selected cities to travel independently to Macau and some other places.

Macau’s tourism bureau has nonetheless been working on a new travel campaign aimed at mainland Chinese customers, focusing on promoting Macau as a “safe city”.

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