The performance of Macau’s casinos in 2020 highlights the challenge the land-based gambling sector faces to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Casino revenues in Macau fell by 79% in 2020. But the casinos themselves were only actually required to close for a fortnight in early February – as highlighted by the red bar in the graph below.

Macau is a destination casino market. The problem has been the lack of visitors willing or able to travel to Macau to gamble.

International or cross-border travel has certainly been unappealing during 2020 – the need for quarantine periods, either on arrival or upon return, requirements around negative tests prior to arrival, governments imposing travel bans and discouraging non-essential travel, and a general caution about public concerns about prolonged periods in the confined space of planes.

It is clear that some countries will be keeping similar measures in place well into 2021. This poses a problem for destination gambling resorts that is hard to solve.