The biggest COVID outbreak to date in Macau, which means new restrictions, social distancing, and a huge amount of testing, resulted in falling casino stocks on June 20. The cases are not that many, amounting to a total of 36, and the casinos are still open but the closure of public services, parks, schools, and many businesses has prompted expectations of zero revenue from gambling in the next few weeks.
Macau Casino Stocks Tumble
Wynn Macau stocks were the biggest loser with a decrease of 3.3%, closely followed by SJM Holdings, which was down 3.1%. Sands China and MGM China faired moderately with stocks falling by a little over 2%, while Galaxy Entertainment was the least affected with a decrease of just under 1%. In terms of cash liquidity and considering the predictions for no revenue from gambling operations whatsoever for an extended period of time, it is estimated that SJM and Sands China can run for about eight months, while Wynn Macau, MGM China, and Melco Resorts are better off with 18-24 months of liquidity. Galaxy Entertainment can survive for the longest period without any profits – its runway is calculated at 60 months.
Xi Jinping Policies Pose Another Challenge for Macau Casinos
The gambling sector has already suffered because of the pandemic as strict measures on visas, extended quarantine periods, and lockdowns seriously impacted the gambling revenue from tourists. The gambling industry in Macau provides about 80% of the government’s revenue, accounts for over 50% of the city’s GDP, and employs about one-fifth of all residents.
However, the industry faces other challenges as well. Xi Jinping, China’s president, is campaigning hard against corruption so there have been investigations into gamblers that spend a lot of money and into government officials that may be trying to launder money in Macau. As an extension to these policies, Macau declared plans back in September 2021 to make underground banking illegal and put government officials on the casinos’ boards in order to control their operations.
Macau is a special administrative region of China with a population of about 680,000 huddled in an area of just 12.7 square miles. Macau, which is a former Portuguese colony, is in the unique position of sporting a gambling industry larger than that in Las Vegas as gambling is banned in mainland China but permitted in Macau.