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Macau casinos report best month since Covid with $2.1B revenue in July, driven by high tourism levels

Reading time 1:48 min

Macau casinos' gross gaming revenue (GGR) increased by more than 4,000% in July from the previous year to MOP16.7 billion ($2.1 billion), according to a report by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ). July's total was also up 9.6% from the GGR posted in June, which stood at MOP15.207 billion ($1.88 billion). Accumulated revenue stands at MOP96.79 billion ($12.05 billion), up 263% year-over-year. 

The latest figures represent about 68% of pre-pandemic levels, driven by increased tourism levels during the summer vacation period. Hotel occupancy rate reached 89% in early July and is expected to maintain around this level during the vacation season, according to Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, head of the city’s tourism office.

While monthly GGR remains lower than pre-pandemic totals, as monthly figures generally stood above MOP20 billion ($2.49 billion) from 2017 until the onset of Covid-19 at the start of 2020, it should be noted that the latest results topped the median analyst estimate of a 3,922% increase, and is the highest monthly takings since January 2020. 

The year-over-year growth from MOP398 million ($49.5 million) last year to MOP16.7 billion ($2.1 billion) in July 2023 is due to the fact Macau was locked down, and casinos ceased operations for almost two weeks, in July 2022 due to a Covid-19 outbreak.

Investors are also set to get further insight into the state of the sector as Macau’s six casino operators report financial results for the second quarter. During Q2, Las Vegas Sands’ revenue more than doubled to $2.5 billion, driven by the steady recovery of visitation in Macau, surpassing Wall Street estimates. 

Macau gaming revenue for the full year is likely to return to 62% of the pre-Covid level, a Bloomberg survey of estimates from six brokerages shows. Gambling income generated from the mass tourist market, the most important indicator of casino profits, is expected to reach almost 90% of the pre-Covid levels this year, the survey shows.

The government has set a target of MOP130 billion ($16.19 billion) in GGR for 2023. However, many analysts believe the territory is capable of generating as much as MOP168 billion ($20.92 billion). Nearly MOP60 billion ($7.47 billion) in gaming taxes will be collected in 2023, according to projections.

Last month, the Macau Economic Association (MEA) estimated a 70% year-on-year rise in the city’s GDP for the first half of 2023. Despite the jump, it will represent about 65% of the average GDP recorded from pre-pandemic 2017 to 2019, as per the association. The estimated increase is a direct response to Macau's recovering daily average gross gambling revenue (GGR), on which the city heavily relies.

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