In Macau and a leading government official has reportedly declared that it is an ‘inevitable reality’ that the number of VIP gaming clubs will continue to decrease as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a report from Inside Asian Gaming, the assertion from the former Portuguese enclave’s Economic and Finance Secretary, Lei Wai Nong (pictured), comes after the city recorded a decrease of almost 66% year-on-year in aggregated December gross gaming revenues to approximately $979 million. The source detailed that this result represented a 15th consecutive month of comparable declines with VIP takings for the most recent fourth quarter having plummeted by 80% when set alongside the same period in 2019.

Deteriorating desire:

Lei reportedly made his prediction in response to news from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau regulator that Macau is now home to only 77 VIP clubs running a little over 1,560 gaming tables. His forecast purportedly moreover followed a revelation that the Asian gambling hotspot saw ten of its licensed junket operators shut up shop last year to leave only 85 such enterprises operational.

Public pledge:

Despite these disappointing figures, Lei reportedly explained that his office remains committed to maintaining and improving the stability and service levels of the VIP gaming sector in Macau even as coronavirus-related travel restrictions and social distancing protocols continue to wreak havoc. The highly-lucrative sector is furthermore purportedly expected to suffer due to a recent spike in mainland infections and Beijing’s call for its citizens to avoid unnecessary travel in the run-up to next month’s Chinese New Year celebrations.

Lei reportedly stated…

The situation during the pandemic is flat and it would be hard to welcome visitors during the Chinese New Year. The priority is to prevent and control the pandemic in order to gain the approval and support from the central government.”

Sector significance:

Highlighting the importance of gambling to Macau and Lei reportedly finished by pronouncing that 9,940 people were last month employed by local casino operators in middle and high management roles with some 89% of these being native-born workers. He purportedly also stated that associated ‘non-resident’ staff now account for only 24% of the industry’s total workforce at 26,102.