Macau, the largest casino gambling center in the world, has registered another dreadful month of income, with gross gaming sales last month plunging almost 95 percent, a little worse compared with analysts' projections of a 93 percent tumble, gaming officials disclosed Tuesday.
The dismal numbers came as tourism and travel restrictions from selected areas in mainland China were eased for the first time since extensive measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic were imposed last spring.
Based on figures released by the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, the city's gross gaming sales fell to $167 million in August as foot traffic in casinos dropped because of the virus.
August marked the fifth straight month where major casinos in the city saw at least a 90 percent year-on-year retreat. It was also the 11th consecutive month of declines in gross gaming sales.
Gross gaming revenues for Macau's first eight months in 2020 fell by almost 82 percent year-over-year to $454 million. Gambling revenues for July hit $168 million compared with the same period last year.
Investors were hopeful business would normalize in the gambling hub after Chinese authorities resumed travel visas to Macau from residents of Guangdong and Zhuhai middle of last month, but Bank of America analyst Billy Ng said mandatory coronavirus tests may be getting in the way of the first wave of guests.
While Macau's total figures for the month were not impressive, Ng observed that the city welcomed more than 9,500 tourists at the end of August, compared with 2,387 average travelers in July. MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts, and the Las Vegas Sands all operate major resort-casino investments in Macau.
According to Stifel Financial gaming analyst Steven Wieczynski, they are fully aware that investors know the kind of challenge Macau is dealing with at the moment and are ready to face an "uncertain near-term timetable."
Meanwhile, China has announced that tourist visas, through which a large chunk of guests enter Macau, will be restored for all provinces starting September 23.