The world’s largest casino market is beginning to see signs of a recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to numbers released by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, casinos in Macau reported $1.03 billion in revenue during the month of March. Those numbers reflect a 58% jump in year-over-year revenue.
It’s the second consecutive month of year-over-year growth after revenue more than doubled in February. It wasn’t a completely apples-to-apples comparison in February as the former Portuguese colony forced its casinos to shutter for 15 days in February 2020 to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The casinos reopened during the third week of the month and stayed open for all of March 2020, making last month the first time since June 2019 that there was a bump in year-over-year gambling revenue where the market was open for the duration of both periods.
Casinos are still earning much less than they were before the coronavirus outbreak. In June 2019, the market reported winning $3.2 billion from gamblers, which was just a 1.8% jump compared to a year prior, but more than three times what was reported in March 2021.
The pandemic and the lack of tourism to the region is the main factor in the depressed numbers, but that is starting to change. Last month, Macau saw its highest single day visitor tally since before the pandemic with 32,647 people arriving in the special administration region on Mar. 26.
And the government expects those numbers to continue to increase. According to a report from the Macau Daily Times, the local government just recently finished upgrades to the airport in anticipation of renewed tourism.
Macau’s Chief Executive, which is similar to a governor in the United States, Ho lat Seng said that the special administrative region is a “healthy, safe destination” and believes that it is the most preferred destination for citizens of mainland China.
Foreigners are still pretty much banned from entering Macau, but Mainlanders and natives of Hong Kong make up 90% of gamblers at Macau casinos. The government recently eased restrictions on visitors from Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China, which should spark the industry’s recovery.