Macau casinos suffered a massive blow from COVID-19, the coronavirus that has infected thousands of people worldwide, after being forced to close for 15 days caused gambling revenue to plummet 87.8% from the year-ago period.

The Gaming Inspection & Coordination Bureau, Macau's local casino regulatory agency, said gross gambling revenue was just 3.1 billion Macau patacas, or the equivalent of $387 million. Last February, Macau casinos reported gambling revenue of 25.4 billion patacas. 

Woman on train wearing surgical mask

Image source: Getty Images.

Making a bad situation worse

The casino industry in Macau, the only place where it is legal to gamble in China, was already declining because of a weakening Chinese economy as the trade war with the U.S. had hit local businesses and tourism hard. 

The coronavirus outbreak has compounded the challenges and analysts now forecast China's economy will contract for the first time since comparable records were begun in 2011.

Casino operators in Macau were forced to shut down beginning Feb. 5 and only reopened on Feb. 20, but numerous travel restrictions remain in place and casinos are limited to the number of tables they can have open as well as the number of seats at each table.

Wynn Resorts (WYNN -1.78%) said the closure was costing it between $2.4 million and $2.6 million a day while MGM Resorts (MGM -0.33%) said it was losing $1.5 million a day. Las Vegas Sands (LVS -0.37%) generates 64% of its revenue from Macau.

Casino stocks were already seeing gambling revenue fall by double-digit rates for several months, but analysts now forecast revenue will be down 70% in March and 35% for the second quarter. For the full year, gross gambling revenue is expected to be down 24%.