The Covid restrictions have had a lasting impact on the tourism and gambling industries in Macau, even after being lifted. One of the main consequences is the lack of VIP visitors, which is seriously affecting the gaming industry in Macau. According to Wang Changbin, the director of the Center for Gaming and Tourism Studies at Macao Polytechnic University, it is unlikely that the gaming industry will be able to fully recover to its pre-pandemic state. The decrease in visits from VIP customers is a major factor in this.
Aside from the lack of VIP visitors, other factors such as the shortage of land and transportation facilities in the region are also contributing to the slow recovery of the gaming industry in Macau. Wang Changbin expressed his satisfaction with the speed at which Macau is recovering but highlighted the hindering conditions in the region.
In the third quarter of 2023, Macau’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) was 31% lower than it was in the third quarter of 2019. This is in stark contrast to other regulated markets such as Las Vegas, the Philippines, and Singapore, which have already surpassed their pre-pandemic revenues. One key difference is that Las Vegas has successfully incorporated sports betting in their casinos, while Macau has been focusing on using the gaming industry to expand non-gaming departments.
Wang Changbin suggested that Macau should concentrate on Hengqin, an area near the Cotai Strip where most of the casinos are located, in order to become the “capital of entertainment” and a “city of sports events” in the coming year. He believes that the government’s push for non-gaming development will ultimately have a positive impact on gaming revenue in general.
Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng also mentioned the government’s efforts to submit an application for the official title of “capital of entertainment,” which is expected to be granted to the city. He pointed out the success of various events held in Macau in 2023, emphasizing their high standards and the positive experience for attendees.
Overall, the impact of Covid restrictions on Macau’s gaming industry is significant, and the region is now strategizing on how to overcome these challenges and revive its reputation as a top destination for tourism and gambling.