Macau casino numbers from April termed ‘horrific;’ market dips to $95M, a 97% decline Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · May 1, 2020 at 9:11 am Macau casinos saw gaming revenues dip to historic lows during April as continued COVID-19 travel restrictions in China kept customers away from the gaming tables. The Gaming Inspection & Coordination Bureau said Friday Macau’s casinos collected $95 million from gaming customers during the month – a 97% decline from a year ago – a shocking figure in a market that normally sees monthly gaming revenue totals in the $3 billion range. Stifel Financial gaming analyst Steven Wieczynski termed the month as “horrific, but totally expected” with government officials continuing to clamp down on travel from Mainland China into the Special Administrative Regional to slow any spread of the coronavirus pandemic. “The 97% drop should not be a surprise to anyone given the Macau market remained essentially shut down during the month,” Wieczynski told investors Friday. “While the casinos were opened for part of April, play levels and visitation remained depressed.” Last week, Las Vegas Sands – which has the largest presence of the three Nevada-based casino operators in Macau – said it expects the market to rebound this summer once the travel restrictions are lifted. MGM Resorts International acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle echoed those sentiments on Thursday. Las Vegas Sand said it will continue to spend more than $2 billion to rebrand its Sands Cotai Central complex into The Londoner Macau and expand and renovate the St. Regis Tower Suites and the Four Seasons Tower Suites. Despite the coronavirus outbreak being largely contained in Macau, Hong Kong, and Mainland China, the restrictions on travel make it almost impossible for visitation. Wieczynski said limitations on individual and group visas into Macau and transportation options impaired, the market could take six to nine months to start stabilizing and showing improvement. “It’s still anybody’s guess as to what the next few months of gross gaming revenue will look like,” he told investors. “While the casinos are somewhat operational, we believe visitation and play levels will remain depressed for the foreseeable future.” April’s decline followed a 79.7% dip in March and an 87.8% drop in February, which included a 15-day government-ordered shutdown of Macau’s casinos. In January, revenues fell more than 11% after the outbreak forced the cancelations of lucrative Chinese New Year celebrations. For the first four months of 2020, Macau gaming revenues are down almost 69% from a year ago. Macau gaming revenues fell 3.4% in 2019 to $36.5 billion, marking the region’s first gaming revenue decrease since 2016. Many analysts expected 2020 would be a rebound year but that was before the pandemic appeared. Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng said at a policy address on April 20 the Special Administrative Region would ask the Chinese government to resume tourist visas to the city and increase the number of places that travelers can apply for individual visas “at an appropriate time.” Jefferies gaming analyst David Katz said the most important near-term catalyst for Macau would be the Chinese government relaxing the 14-day quarantine in the neighboring Guangdong province. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.