Last year was a good year for Macau Slot Co Ltd, previously the only sports betting operator in Macau. As casinos tried to jumpstart their operations, the company reported a 31.8% year-on-year increase in profit.
A sportsbook Macau Slot Co Ltd operates in Macau. The sports betting operator continues to see growth, even though it no longer has a monopoly in the market. (Image: GGRAsia)
Macau Slot saw revenue of MOP629 million (US$77.8 million) last year. This was 15.6% more than the MOP544 million (US$67.3 million) in 2020.
The bulk of the betting occurred on soccer, while basketball was a distant second. Soccer accounted for MOP415 million (US$51.3 million) and basketball for MOP214 million (US$26.5 million).
Sports Betting Strong in Macau
The result of the revenue increase was a profit of MOP127 million (US$15.7 million). This was MOP30.1 million (US$13.7 million) more than a year earlier, when Macau was a virtual ghost town on several occasions because of COVID-19.
The profit was also a significant improvement over 2019. That year, it saw a profit of MOP$154.8 million (US$19.3 million), down 30% from 2018.
Macau Slot acknowledged that the past couple of years have been tough because of the pandemic. However, it added that the government has been working tirelessly to control the spread of COVID-19.
On the heels of the strong results, the company has greater confidence in expanding its operations. Although it didn’t provide a lot of detail, Macau Slot stated that it will upgrade its “technology and sports information facilities” to respond better to consumer demand.
While it’s common to see sportsbooks at casinos in the US, this isn’t the case in Macau. There are no sportsbooks on gaming floors, and sports betting remains more of an ancillary product in the gambling hub than a robust alternative.
Macau Slot Faces Growing Competition
For years, Macau Slot held a monopoly on sports betting. It began accepting soccer wagers in 1998 after the SAR approved its license. Then, in 2000, it added basketball. With the arrival of casino concessions in 2002, Macau gave the company exclusive control over its legal sports betting activity.
In June of last year, the company received an extension to its license, allowing it to keep going for another three years. However, the new agreement between the SAR and Macau Slot highlighted the removal of the exclusivity the company previously enjoyed.
Despite the change, Macau has done little to advance regulations guiding the sports betting market. As a result, the industry continues to lag behind the other industries.
The SAR’s new gambling laws have done little to advance sports betting, either. Macau defines sports betting as “games of chance offered to the public,” different from casino gambling’s “games of chance.”
This discrepancy is why casinos, among other reasons, don’t put up sportsbooks. That now seems prudent, given that Macau is continuing to shut down its commercial activity due to a new COVID-19 outbreak.
The SAR ordered a partial lockdown of businesses, including casinos, for a week, until July 18. Now, however, the city extended the order through this Friday.
All residents must remain in their homes, except to go shopping for groceries or medication, or for mandatory COVID-19 testing. Those who violate the rules face up to two years in jail.
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