Posted on: December 1, 2020, 05:31h.
Last updated on: December 1, 2020, 03:39h.
Macau gaming revenues dropped 70.5 percent to US$844 million in November, down from US$2.87 billion for the corresponding period last year, according to official figures. Under anything approaching normal circumstances, this would be an intolerable decline for the world’s richest gambling hub. But amid a global pandemic, it’s a move in the right direction.
Gross gaming revenues (GGR) now are falling at a slower pace thanks to an increase in tourist traffic from mainland China, which is overwhelmingly its primary market.
Across the first 11 months of the year, GGR has fallen 80.5 percent. November’s figures represent a slight improvement on the 72.5 percent drop in October and a marked improvement on September’s 90 percent fall.
Containment but at Cost
Despite its population density, Macau has been successful in containing the coronavirus with just 46 cases recorded and no deaths. No community infection had been reported and no new Covid-19 cases have been registered in the past 158 days.
But this came at a cost. Travel restrictions imposed in February initially cut off the special administrative region (SAR) from the rest of China and its accompanying spending power.
The situation has improved in recent months. In August, neighboring Guangdong Province began to issue visas again for travel to Macau, while the rest of the mainland followed on September 23.
According to figures released Monday by Macau’s Statistics and Census Service, visitors from the mainland leaped to 500,000 in October, up from 412,000 in September. But this was still some way off from the 2 million monthly visitors of 2019.
Threat from High-Risk Regions
Meanwhile, health authorities said it’s possible that the increase in footfall from high-risk regions could lead to a new outbreak of the virus in Macau. On Monday, Dr. Alvis Lo Iek Long of the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center (NCRCC) in Macau suggested that students returning from countries such as the US, UK, and Australia could pose a danger as the end of the school holidays approach.
Mainland China, meanwhile, is considered low risk. On December 1, there were 12 new confirmed cases in the entire country, eight of which imported from abroad.
“There is an increase in the number of individuals returning to Macau, coming from abroad from areas of high epidemic risk,” said Dr. Lo. On average, about 50 to 100 people enter the SAR per day. But on Sunday, there was an increase to approximately 200 people, so the possibility of being diagnosed during medical observation periods doesn’t rule out these cases being imported cases.”
Entrants to Macau from outside mainland China, including Hong Kong, are required to quarantine for two weeks. Currently, there are 1,286 visitors undergoing medical observation at designated hotels, the NCRCC said.