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Macau Getting Back on Track in the Casino Game

brandon March 17, 2023

The last three years or so have been tumultuous for many across the globe. No industry was truly insulated from that uncertainty. As such, casinos were hard hit by the pandemic. Nowhere was this more obvious than China’s gaming Mecca, Macau. With it’s strict no-Covid policies, China’s brick-and-mortar businesses were left reeling as travel and attendance tumbled. This ensured that casino revenues plummeted to a rock bottom. However, there are more than just a few green shoots of recovery. In particularly, a selection of global names and local businessmen are managing to drag the industry kicking and screaming back to glory.

MGM China

2022 represented a historic low for Macau, a former Portuguese colony. Revenue halved from the same period in 2021. That was a drop of around $5 billion. To add insult to injury, the figures saw an 85% drop on the final year of normality before the pandemic struck, 2019. Not many industries would be able to survive such a fall. It’s testament to the worldwide appeal of casino gaming that there have been signs of a return to former glories. Given the interconnected landscape of the modern world, international co-operation appears to be the way forward. In the case of casinos, multinational operators are helping lessen the burden that any one country’s current experience places on its casino industry. In particular, for Macau, there’s one world-famous name doing this.

MGM’s China Arm Helping Lead the Revival

While revenues are still lower than their 2019 highs, there is reason to be cheerful. 2022’s financial figures were low and made for uncomfortable reading. However, the recovery looks set to be kicked into gear in 2023. Looking at MGM China, their stock prices more than doubled, up by 114 percent. If they’re anything to go by, revenue figures will be a huge improvement on recent years. Anything along the same trajectory would mean that the country’s gaming industry is clawing back its power. That sort of growth would return it to 2021 levels. They may still be some way off where most would like to be, but achieving such growth is a good starting point. The key is building on it.

Also, while MGM appears to be attempting to stake its claim as the most impressive of the Macau-based casino operators, they’re not the only one experiencing good growth levels. In fact, Melco Resorts, another operator with a foothold in the region, experienced growth of over 140 percent. The caveat to keep in mind with Melco, though, is that the performance was boosted by their operations in other Asian markets. However, these signs of recovery are heartening. That’s especially true when considering that the autonomous region was king of the hill in casino gaming, before the pandemic allowed Las Vegas to usurp it.

It’s a long way back to the top. However, the local authorities are putting steps in place to separate its tourist economy from the casino industry somewhat and attract even more people to the area. This is a move that could provide a real boost for both the area and its casinos.

Macau: A New Global Tourist Destination

As with the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas, Macau has often been seen as a destination for casino purists. However, there are steps being put in place to shift global public perception. And some of these moves are built around the casinos themselves. Since the reopening of Macau to tourism from mainland China, a number of new attractions have shot up. ZipCity at the Lisboeta casino district is a zip line stretching more than 300 meters across the city. A new VR experience at St Paul’s Church, historical ruins in the city, has opened, allowing tourists to experience a step back in time. All this only strengthens the existing offerings in the city.

Beyond building new attractions, including an immersive Japanese art exhibition and a resort with a British theme, the local authorities are trying to draw tourists back through their wallets. They’re offering buy-one-get-one-free deals on travel from certain areas, like Hong Kong. They’re also allowing for Hong Kong dollars to be accepted by local businesses. Further from that, there are plans to increase the prevalence of package deals from further abroad. It’s hoped that this will help draw tourists in who may otherwise have been drawn elsewhere. If all this works, it might not be long before we see the return of glorious Macau to the pinnacle of casino tourism.

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