Macau Casinos See Swift Revenue Recovery Post-China’s Zero-Covid Stance Shift


In the first year following President Xi Jinping’s decision to end China’s “zero-COVID” pandemic response, Macau casinos have witnessed a swift recovery in their gaming revenues. This recovery is seen as a significant improvement from the low revenues recorded during the peak of the pandemic.

In fact, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau of Macau has reported that in August, gross gaming revenue (GGR) reached an impressive MOP17.2 billion, equivalent to roughly $2.13 billion USD. Notably, this marks the highest revenue recorded by the casinos since January 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic initially took hold in China’s Wuhan region.

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However, along with the rise in revenue, casinos could potentially face an increase in their non-gaming investment obligations. This comes in the light of Xi’s late 2022 decision to rescind the zero-COVID policy—a decision that coincided with the Macau government issuing fresh 10-year licenses to the six major gaming operators in the region: Sands, Galaxy, MGM, Wynn, SJM, and Melco.

In an agreement with the government, these six operators have committed to investing a collective total of MOP118.8 billion (approximately $14.72 billion USD) into their respective resorts over the life of the concessions. The majority of these funds, amounting to $13.5 billion USD, are earmarked for non-gaming projects.

A less publicised term of these new gaming permits dictates that should casinos’ gaming revenues return to pre-COVID-19 levels, their non-gaming investment commitment could significantly increase. Specifically, if the operators’ winnings exceed MOP180 billion in any single year through 2027, the non-gaming spending requirement will rise by 20%.

In practical terms, this would mean that if Macau’s casinos maintain their current revenue trajectory over the final four months of the year, they could report full-year gaming income in the range of MOP171 billion.

As demonstrated by recent trends, Macau’s gaming industry is experiencing a resurgence marked by increased monthly revenues. The likelihood of reaching the MOP180 billion threshold is thus highly plausible.

Despite feeling the impact of the three-year pandemic, Macau’s casinos have been able to prevent mass layoffs thanks to their adherence to the Macau government’s requests and their substantial financial reserves. This resilience owes much to the more than a decade of prosperity leading up to the pandemic, with 2013 being the most profitable year for casinos.

Emphasising their financial readiness, Melco Resorts CEO Lawrence Ho has expressed confidence that they’ll be able to meet any additional investment requirements. He reinforced their shared goal of diversifying the market and attracting more international visitors, promising ongoing dialogue with the government to ensure alignment.

With an average casino win of about MOP16.5 billion in the past three months, industry analysts predict that the full-year win could come in at MOP180 billion, triggering the 20% non-gaming spending increase.