Macau casinos unlikely to see rise in Mainland Chinese visitors in July: Bernstein

Macau casinos unlikely to see rise in Mainland Chinese visitors in July: Bernstein

Casinos in the Asian gambling hub of Macau will likely not see any major increase in the number of visitors from mainland China in July as halt on the individual visit scheme (IVS) probably will not be lifted next month, a new research report by brokerage house Bernstein suggested.

Macau is a special administrative region (SAR) of China, and the IVS is an important source of visas for the residents of mainland China who might be looking to enter Macau. The scheme was halted by the Chinese authorities in December 2019 ahead of President Xi Jinping’s official visit to Macau to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the handover of Macau from Portugal to China. It was expected that the suspension of IVS would be lifted early this year but the outbreak of the deadly corona virus pandemic prompted Chinese authorities to continue with the IVS restrictions.

Bernstein’s research report underlined that emergence of new cases of corona virus infections in Beijing may force authorities to further delay the opening of the borders. While there may be some minor easing in the restrictions, border crossing restrictions will likely remain intact.

Macau casinos collectively suffered a steep year-on-year decline of 93.2 per cent in gross gaming revenue (GGR) in the month of May, as travel restrictions implemented in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic’s outbreak led to a steep decrease in the number of visitors. Mainland China and Hong Kong collectively account for 91 per cent of annual visits to Macau.

Bernstein analysts said there is currently no information as to when the Chinese government will lift IVS restrictions, but it is unlikely that the restrictions will be lifted next month.

In its newly-published research report, Bernstein said, “There has been no new information on when IVS visa issuances may begin. But once they start, we expect a phased approach … at this stage, while we remain hopeful, we are skeptical that IVSs will resume in July.”

As virus risk persists and new cases of the deadly infection were recorded in Beijing last week, Macau responded by implementing a fourteen-day quarantine policy on travelers entering the special administrative region from Beijing.

A possible second wave of COVID-19 infections in mainland China and the lack of an effective vaccine to treat the deadly virus would almost certainly derail hopes of revival of Macau’s casino-dependent economy in the near future.