In March 2020, just before the start of the pandemic, Macau attracted millions of players looking to have a blast in the world’s most popular gambling hub. Ranging from high-stake players to recreational gamers eager to explore the mesmerizing capital of gambling, Macau welcomed everyone with a breathtaking selection of land casinos. The on-and-off functioning of these venues in the context of the numerous shutdowns in the last two years led to huge losses for the industry, while forcing players to seek online casino alternatives.
Macau Online Casinos In Demand During COVID-19
Most recently, Macau’s casinos had to curb yet another Coronavirus outbreak with 1,500 cases recorded from the middle of June onwards. Accordingly, the China-controlled territory sent 19,000 people in mandatory quarantine and established a 14-day closure at the beginning of July. This means that the enclave’s 30+ casinos were forced to shut down for the first time in two years, followed by the rest of the non-essential businesses. Macau’s population was also asked to stay at home. The police constantly patrolled and monitored the flow of people going outside. Stringent punishments for people who chose to disobey the orders were imposed.
During the shutdown, players who were once again deprived of their favorite land casinos started looking for online alternatives. As a result, thousands of locals, people from China, and tourists alike started seeking “refuge” at online casinos. Australian and American casino websites saw spikes in visitors from China as they were searching for foreign operators. While online casinos are not officially regulated or defined by the authorities in Macau, it is implied that operating such a casino within the territory is illegal. Nonetheless, players can still place their bets using online casinos operated by offshore companies. Accordingly, Macau players have already started to access many excellent online casinos ready to cater to their needs. These places attract newcomers with cool match bonuses, free spins packages, 24/7 customer support, and safe services.
Macau’s Land Casinos Have Reopened – Recovery Is Nowhere in Sight
Toward the end of July, Macau was able to finally reopen its land casinos. However, the brick-and-mortar gambling industry’s outlook does not look any brighter than it did before the new restrictions were enforced. Even prior to the July lockdown, according to Reuters, Macau’s casinos were estimated to burn through close to $600 million on a monthly basis because of the restrictions.
The territory continues to deal with the devastating effects of the “Covid Zero” policy adopted by China. Ever since China decided to suspend quarantine-free travel, the number of Chinese visitors to Macau dropped dramatically. Accordingly, in the first six months of the year, Macau’s revenue from gaming dropped 46% compared to 2021, when gambling generated approximately 87.6 billion Macau patacas ($10.8 billion). For 2019, prior to the pandemic, Statista figures speak about the same casinos going over the 293 billion Macau patacas mark ($36 billion).
So, while Macau’s casinos are ready to receive patrons again, there is still a stringent need for customers. This forces most casinos to limit their operating gaming tables and cut their staff capacity to 50%. Bernstein analysts consider the current status of land casinos in Macau to be a delay in their grand reopening. At the same time, they are convinced the venues will keep playing the same essential role in Macau’s economical well-being as soon as things will go back to normal.
Players Are Making the Switch to the Online World
However, with N95 masks continuing to remain mandatory indoors, the constant threat of a new lockdown underway, and so many uncertainties to consider, locals are having a hard time going back to their favorite casinos. Most of them are determined to go online. Macanese casinos operating online are getting ready to take on the large influx of players ready to join them for the first time. The best venues accept players from Macau and offer a rich selection of banking options, including credit cards, e-wallets, and cryptocurrency. Casinos that let players use Macanese Pataca are also in high demand and usually have priority in front of other venues online. However, online casinos that accept US Dollars, Euro, and other global currencies also attract former land casino players looking for online gambling alternatives.
New online casino players in Macau are advised to pay close attention to a casino’s terms and conditions and only opt for fully licensed and regulated venues. This should allow them to safely test the online gambling waters while enjoying a lucrative experience online.
Without a doubt, Macau’s gambling industry is slowly going online. While there are numerous licensed online companies ready to offer their services to Macau, some decided to retreat, fearing they would interfere with the Chinese government’s harsh stance on gambling. Nonetheless, players can still enjoy a large number of attractive offers. Most casinos are powered by award-winning gaming studios worldwide, delighting players with an incredible array of online slots, table games, and live dealer titles.
As for Macau’s brick-and-mortar casinos, according to the territory’s fresh gaming legislation, operators are required to put 5 billion patacas ($618 million) aside to use for bidding for new licenses. This considerably shortens the liquidity runway of casinos, threatening their existence. Some companies like SJM Holdings Ltd. and Sands China only have very limited liquidity to run on until new measures are taken. Unless their parent companies are ready to act, some of them are at risk of shutting down completely, leaving room for the online industry to bloom.