In the not too distant past, Macao’s gaming revenues dwarfed that of the Las Vegas Strip. However, per a recent spotlight from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Macao region is being even more stressed by gaming recilensing applications. With COVID-19 restrictions critically hurting the Macao gaming economy to the point that gross gaming revenue from Las Vegas is expected to surpass Macao in 2022, many analysts believe it may takes year for Chinese area to get back to full strength. With gaming revenue slowing down to a trickle in the region, licensed casino operators there, including three Vegas-based companies per the report, are being asked to invest more money in non gaming ventures as a condition of relicensing.
For this report, SBS will go into more detail about how Vegas has bounced back from COVID-19 in relation to Macao and some other thoughts about gaming there.
Per the LVRJ breakdown, things were going very well for the Asian gaming mecca in 2019. Before the pandemic began, Macao record $3.046 billion in revenue, while the Strip reported just $549 million in comparison. However, when COVID impacted the entire world, casinos were closed for a period in both destinations, so Macao’s revenue flipped to $630 million while the Strip fell to $311 million in revenue. In 2021, both gaming hot spots saw modest recovery with Macao bringing in $905 million while the Strip brought home $591 million.
Since then, the Las Vegas gaming economy has boomed with 16 straight months of revenue in excess of $1 billion. Macao on the other hand, has seen its gaming revenues slow to a crawl per the LVRJ. This year, the Asian gaming destination has reportedly generated just $476 million for its first seven months while the Strip won $662 million in six months. This decline has been mainly attributed to two causes per one insider. Macao, following China’s lead, has kept is zero-COVID policy in place and also has cracked down on junkets ordered by the government. While the COVID downturn was temporary, the loss of these junkets will likely be permanent and be a heavy blow to the gaming economy on Macao.
Per the LVRJ report, Macao will most likely not catch Las Vegas in gaming revenue for this year. According to Alidad Tash, a Macao-based gaming analyst, unless Macao stages a dramatic comeback over the remaining five months of the year, it will be overtaken by the Strip’s gaming revenue for the first time since 2006. However, Tash did note in the article that Macao will likely regain the lead versus the Strip within the next two years, but won’t reach its previous revenue highs for a long time. With casinos having to work within the government’s framework, this could be a tough uphill battle for many casino-operators in the region.
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