Mainland Economic Revival May Accelerate Macau’s Post-Coronavirus Success

International brokerage Sanford C Bernstein & Company reportedly said the eventual recovery of the Macau casino market may be accelerated by the revival of two nearby mainland Chinese provinces.

The investment firm’s Hong Kong office detailed Wednesday that Fujian and Guangdong provinces appear to be recovering quickly from the recent economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic and will soon begin allowing about 150 million residents to travel easily to Macau once again.

Guangdong Province has a population of more than 105 million, and its residents are said to be “somewhat more inclined to gamble than other parts of China.” These residents are thought to have accounted for about 45% of the number of Macau tourists in 2019 through about 12.7 million individual trips, of which about 72% were reportedly related to using the popular Individual Visit Planning (IVS) program.

The securities firm reported that Guangdong residents were, as a result, responsible for about 30% of Macau’s total game revenue and 15% of VIP Play revenue last year.

“It’s hard to show the data, but one place where you can see the evidence is Chinese lottery sales. As evidenced by lottery sales, Guangdong Province is a key lottery market, accounting for 10 percent of lottery sales in China, where 8 percent of the population lives. Estimates of total gaming revenue by customer source simply have good visit data for Macau.”

But all this success was reportedly dashed earlier this year as Chinese and Macau officials implemented a range of travel restrictions, including the suspension of the IVS program, as part of a joint effort to stem the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus variant that has killed more than 220,000 people worldwide so far. The Sanford C Bernstein & Company has reportedly predicted that these obstacles could begin to be phased out next month, starting with travel involving tourists from mainland regions such as Guangdong.

“If the situation remains under control, Macau expects to begin gradually lifting travel restrictions in late May or June.”

In the event of such a development, Macau is reportedly forecasting total gaming revenue of about $22.34 billion in 2020, down about 39% from a year earlier. That’s despite a nearly 60% drop in the first quarter to $3.81 billion.

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