The gulf between live and online operators is more apparent than ever following the latest look at how Macau casinos have performed so far in 2020.
The Chinese enclave’s casino sector has endured a rough ride in recent years. However, its latest financials make for even grimmer reading than normal thanks to the coronavirus.
Assessing the current situation, analysts believe Macau casinos experienced a combined drop in earnings of 95% last month. News of the near-catastrophic downswing was published by Bloomberg on April 21.
Macau Casinos Suffering in 2020
The financial publication garnered the opinions of industry analysts and found that Macau’s 2020 woes are getting worse.
When operators formally publish their reports in the coming weeks, year-on-year losses are expected to be between 93% and 107%.
- Sands China – 93% year-on-year loss (March 2019/March 2020)
- Wynn Macau- 95% year-on-year loss (March 2019/March 2020)
- Melco Resorts – 93% year-on-year loss (March 2019/March 2020)
- MGM China – 107% year-on-year loss (March 2019/March 2020)
- Galaxy Entertainment – 94% year-on-year loss (March 2019/March 2020)
- SJM Holdings – 104% year-on-year loss (March 2019/March 2020)
*Sands, Wynn, Melco, and MGM EBITDA calculations are based on property revenue. Galaxy and SJM EBITDA calculations are based on company revenue.
Macau casinos were some of the first to be hit by coronavirus prevention measures. As an island situated just off mainland China, Macau is close to the epicenter of the outbreak. As such, a travel ban was imposed in February.
Casinos were subsequently closed and remained so until mid-March. Although venues have started to reopen, a single-person travel policy means traffic has yet to pick up.
Prior to the restrictions, the Gaming Inspection & Coordination Bureau reported that revenue for January was down $30 million compared to January 2019. The losses have continued to mount, and analysts estimate Q1 revenue is 60% lower than it was last year.
Coronavirus Creates Tale of Two Mediums
The latest news paints a picture of contrasts within the industry. While Macau and other gaming hotspots like Las Vegas are fighting for survival, online operators are enjoying a mini-boom.
Online poker traffic is up more than 20% in some countries due to coronavirus-related lockdowns. The surge has not only forced immediate changes, but prompted companies to consider their business models.
On Thursday, the World Poker Tour (WPT) outlined its move toward more online content. In tandem with launching the WPT Online Series, the tournament operator has seen sign-ups for its free-play site, ClubWPT, increase by 39% in Q1.
The recent growth of its digital assets prompted WPT CEO to adopt a new outlook.
“Online and distribution are vital parts of the WPT portfolio and proving, once again, to be valuable in uncertain global times,” Pliska said.
A complete move toward virtual action is neither possible nor desirable. However, for those without an online presence, the current dynamics are food for thought.
While certain factions continue to oppose online gaming, the medium is the only thing that’s keeping the industry afloat right now.