Macau GGR falls by 51% in 2022, casinos see worst year since 2004

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As a result of China’s rigorous Zero-Covid policy, Macau’s casinos reported 2022 as their worst year since 2004. However, a recent easing of pandemic restrictions is fostering hope for a long-awaited rebound in 2023.

According to data released by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau on Sunday, the gross gaming revenue (GGR) in December declined by 56% year-on-year to MOP 3.48 billion (US$433 million), which was somewhat less than the median projection of a 57% fall as per Bloomberg experts. The December GGR, however, was 16% higher than the previous month.

This brought the total revenue for the year to MOP 42.2 billion (US$5.25 billion), down 51% from 2021 and well short of the pre-pandemic level in 2019 of MOP 292 billion. The GGR for 2022 is the lowest annual total since 2004 and is only 14% of the pre-pandemic 2019 level. Nevertheless, experts anticipate a recovery in 2023, with a median growth projection of 195%.

Since March 2022, gaming income has decreased due to virus outbreaks and lockdowns resulting in strict travel restrictions from China, Macau’s largest source of tourists, and a crackdown on cross-border gambling.

A severe rise in Covid-19 cases also caused the mainland to halt quarantine-free travel and forced casinos to close for nearly two weeks, with revenue falling to a record low in July. However, the reopening of the mainland in this month and Macau’s own initiatives to end quarantine for foreign tourists lay the stage for a significant return for casinos in 2023.

The current six operators were granted new licenses for the next 10 years recently. A report from Morgan Stanley claimed that the recovery will be slow in 2023 but the GGR will exceed $22 billion by 2027.

Casino operators have also pledged to invest $15 billion over the next 10 years, most of which will be spent on non-gaming investments like high-tech amusement parks and museums. The casinos also released their weekly spending estimates that will be done over 10 years.