(Corrects to insert dropped word "patacas" in penultimate paragraph)
HONG KONG, April 1 (Reuters) - Gambling revenue in Macau plunged 79.7 percent in March on the year, the government said on Wednesday, as casinos reeled from a lack of visitors after the world's biggest casino hub ratcheted up curbs to battle a coronavirus pandemic.
Operators Wynn Macau, Sands China, MGM China, Melco Resorts, SJM Holdings and Galaxy Entertainment are all bleeding between $1.5 million and $4 million a day to keep their properties running.
The March figure of 5.3 billion patacas ($664 million), announced on the website of the gaming regulator, was in line with analyst expectations for a drop of about 80% to 82%, however.
"Forecasts for 2020 remain largely guesses at this time, with constantly changing conditions altering expectations on an almost daily basis," said Vitaly Umansky, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in Hong Kong, who had forecast the March range.
Last week, the Chinese special administrative region banned entry by visitors from mainland China, neighbouring Hong Kong and Taiwan who have travelled overseas, following earlier bans on foreign visitors and non-resident workers.
Visitors from the Greater China region account for more than 90% of tourists to Macau. Although casinos were open throughout March after a two-week suspension of operations in February, visit and health restrictions hit revenues, say analysts.
Many expect revenues to keep falling at the same pace, with some even forecasting almost no revenue while the curbs stay.
Macau said it expects a drop of 56% in annual gross gaming revenue this year to 130 billion patacas ($16.3 billion), down from 260 billion patacas forecast last year.
Macau earns more than 80 percent of its revenues from casinos. ($1=7.9870 patacas) (Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Tom Hogue and Clarence Fernandez)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.