Macau casino operators soar as China allows tour groups after nearly 3 years
HONG KONG, Sept 26 (Reuters) – Shares of Macau casino operators soared as much as 13% on Monday after the city’s leader said China would resume an electronic visa program for mainland travelers and allow group tours, which could likely increase attendance at the largest gaming center in the world.
China’s special administrative region, which is the only place in the country where it’s legal for citizens to gamble in casinos, will aim to open up to mainland tour groups in November for the first time in nearly three years, it said. said the city’s general manager, Ho Iat. Seng said on Saturday. Read more
Macau, a former Portuguese colony, has implemented strict COVID-19 pandemic restrictions with strict border controls since 2020, which has had a major impact on its casino industry.
The announcement came earlier than expected, said analysts, who had expected such measures not to be introduced until early next year. Mainland gamblers account for around 90% of total casino revenue.
“While it is difficult to quantify the immediate benefits, we believe the resumption of e-visas and group tours should ease friction for a trip to Macau, as well as signal to many that it is okay to visit,” said DS Kim, analyst at JP. Morgan in Hong Kong.
“Finally, we feel we can talk about a return to normalcy.”
Sands China (1928.HK) rose more than 13%, Wynn Macau (1128.HK) climbed 7%, Galaxy Entertainment (0027.HK) rose 10% while shares of SJM (0880.HK) ) and MGM China (2282.HK ) jumped 8% each.
While the border between Macau and the mainland has been open for two years, traffic has remained sluggish due to the lack of e-visas, which were readily used by Chinese gamblers before the pandemic to make instant reservations.
Currently, Chinese tourists to Macau must book a visa appointment followed by a week-long approval process. The individual visa regime accounted for about 50% of Chinese visitors to Macao in 2019, while tour groups accounted for about 25% of visits.
In the first phase, the resumption of tour groups will come from five provinces – Guangdong, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Fujian – which accounted for nearly 60 percent of mainland visits to Macao in 2019.
Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Kim Coghill and Sherry Jacob-Phillips
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