(Bloomberg) -- Macau’s casino gaming revenue growth slowed in September, with the sector expected to get a boost this month from China’s Golden Week holiday.
Gross gaming revenue grew 404.2% to 14.9 billion patacas ($1.85 billion) in September, according to data released by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau on Sunday. That’s in line with the median analyst estimate of a 400% year-on-year increase, and about 68% of 2019 pre-Covid levels.
Growth is expected to accelerate in October, buoyed by China’s eight-day holiday that started Friday and typically sees a pick-up in travel. Analysts predict gaming revenue could return to 72% of pre-pandemic levels, the highest percentage since the onset of Covid.
- Macau is one of the top destinations for mainland tourists, who account for the bulk of the city’s visitors. The long holiday is expected to be one of China’s busiest travel seasons as consumers shift their focus to experience-related spending amid economic uncertainties at home.
- The gambling hub is expected to see a daily average of about 120,000 tourist arrivals in Golden Week, Macao Daily reported Friday, citing the city’s travel and hotel industry representatives. That would mean an 86% recovery to pre-Covid levels. Hotel occupancy is expected to exceed 90% during the holiday, according to the report.
- Macau’s September performance was weakened by bad weather. Casinos shut for nine hours at the beginning of the month as Typhoon Saola lashed the city, in a rare closure for an industry that’s required to stay open 24 hours a day. A long stretch of rainy weather that accompanied the typhoon’s move over southern China also deterred travel. Revenue dropped 13.2% on month, according to Bloomberg calculations
- Macau will see a major roster of events in the fourth quarter of the year, including high-profile concerts and a poolside dance party featuring former NBA all-star player Shaquille O’Neal which will further boost revenue, said Citigroup Inc. analysts including George Choi. The city is stepping up efforts to diversify into non-gaming activities, in a bid to reduce its reliance on gambling.
- Macau casino stocks saw a sell-off in late September after local media reported the government is considering criminalizing unlicensed money exchange activities on gaming floors, triggering concerns about a potential crackdown on capital flows. Analysts at banks including Citi, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley viewed the stock decline as an overreaction given illicit activities’ share of Macau’s gaming revenue is likely low.
- A Bloomberg Intelligence index of Macau casino operators fell 5.3% in September, while the benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 3.1% in the same month.
- Macau Gaming Shares Steady as Analysts Refute Crackdown Chatter
- Macau Casinos May See Further Lift From Golden Week Rush
- Accor Sees Record China Hotel Deals as Travel Beats Slowdown
- Macau Casinos Reopen as Typhoon Moves Away From Gambling Hub
- Macau Shuts All Casinos as Typhoon Saola Hits Gambling Hub
- Macau Casino Rebound Shows Travel a Bright Spot Amid China Woes
--With assistance from Denise Wee.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.