On March 1, the city’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau revealed the fallout from a 15-day closure that brought all 41 casinos to a standstill between February 5 and February 19. There was an 86% drop in revenue for the month, with total revenue settling at $389.6 million; the corresponding figure for February 2019 was $3.17 billion. Last month’s sum is one not seen in Macau for over 15 years, while share prices for casino operators plummeted worldwide.
COVID-19 has inadvertently exposed the flaws of many economies, but Macau’s casino-driven economy is in dire straits. Half of the city’s GDP — and four-fifths of the government’s revenue — is dependent on gambling, an industry that entails little technological development or productivity growth but employs one-fifth of the local population. In short, gambling has little knock-on effects for other industries in Macau while tying down a significant portion of the city’s labor.