The Covid-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on the world, and one of the industries still feeling the effects is the tourism and gambling industries in Macau. Even after restrictions have been lifted, the consequences of the pandemic are still being felt, particularly in the lack of VIP visitors to the region’s casinos.
Wang Changbin, the director of the Center for Gaming and Tourism Studies at Macao Polytechnic University, has expressed doubt that the gaming industry in Macau will be able to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels. The key reason for this skepticism is the absence of VIP customers, which has had a significant impact on the industry’s revenue.
While Macau is showing signs of recovery, Wang points to factors such as the lack of land and transportation facilities as barriers preventing VIP customers from visiting the region’s casinos. This has led to a drastic reduction in the number of VIP visitors, affecting the overall revenue of the industry.
In contrast to other regulated markets like Las Vegas, the Philippines, and Singapore, Macau has not been able to surpass its pre-pandemic revenues. In the third quarter of 2023, the Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) in Macau was 31% lower than it was in the third quarter of 2019.
Wang suggests that Macau should focus on the development of Hengqin, a region near the Cotai Strip where most of the casinos are located. He believes that by concentrating on becoming the “capital of entertainment” and a “city of sports events,” Macau can diversify its offerings and attract a broader range of visitors, ultimately benefiting gaming revenue as well.
The Chief Executive of Macau, Ho Iat Seng, has also highlighted the efforts being made to position Macau as the “capital of entertainment,” with plans to submit an application for the official title to mainland China. Despite the current challenges, there is optimism that Macau can adapt and thrive in the post-pandemic world by leveraging non-gaming events and developing a more robust entertainment industry.