Macau gaming revenue last month surged from a year earlier, when casinos shut down for 15 days as COVID-19 began to sweep across the globe.
However, gaming operators were still seeing a lukewarm recovery as the pandemic continues to make travel difficult for gamblers.
Gross gaming revenue last month rose 136 percent to 7.3 billion patacas (US$915 million), Macau Gaming Inspection & Coordination Bureau data showed.
Photo: Anthony Wallace, AFP
That was worse than the median analyst estimate for a 145 percent jump.
Revenue fell 8.9 percent from the previous month, and was still down 71 percent from the February 2019 level, before the pandemic hit.
While the latest result represents the first gain in gaming revenue in 17 months, it was an easy comparison after a record plunge a year earlier as the Macanese government suspended casino operations for more than two weeks.
Macau is still trying to attract mainland China gamblers who are discouraged by a tightened visa application process and virus tests required for crossing the border.
The Lunar New Year holiday — one of the strongest weeks for casinos — was marred by an outbreak in northern China. Arrivals declined 65 percent from last year’s holiday week as Chinese officials urged citizens to stay home.
The situation should improve, as Macau has gradually been easing quarantine rules on travelers from parts of China that saw winter outbreaks. The rollout of vaccines across Asia might also help the recovery, while the opening of Sands China Ltd’s (金沙中國) Londoner property last month could draw in visitors.
The Bloomberg Intelligence index of Macau casino operators jumped 22 percent last month amid investor optimism over the sector. The benchmark Hang Seng Index gained 2.5 percent in the same period.
Casino stocks on Tuesday last week surged the most in three months after Chinese quarantine rules were lifted.
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