China

Macau Casino Shares Soar as China Allows Tour Groups to Return

 

Shares in Macau casino operators shot up to 13% on Monday after the city’s leader gave some long overdue good news.

Macau chief executive Ho Iat Seng said on Saturday that China would resume an internet visa scheme for travellers from the mainland and permit group tours.

This was music to the ears of casino operators, who have suffered nearly three years of low tourist numbers because of travel restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic, which hit China hard because of its lack of effective vaccines.

Ho Eat Seng said they will aim to open Macau to tour groups from the mainland in November – about five weeks time.

The moves are likely to boost visitor numbers in the Chinese special administrative region, which is the only place in the country where it is legal for citizens to gamble.

Macau, a former Portuguese colony, has implemented stringent Covid restrictions with tight border controls since 2020 and they had a major impact on the enclave’s casino industry.

ALSO SEE:

China Think Tank Urges Scrapping of ‘Zero Covid’ Policy

 

 

Sooner Than Expected

Analysts said the announcement came earlier than expected – they had anticipated such measures may not be introduced until early next year. Mainland gamblers account for around 90% of total casino revenue.

“Although it’s tough to quantify the immediate benefit, we believe the resumption of e-visas and group tours should alleviate friction for a Macau trip, as well as signal to many that it’s okay to visit,” DS Kim, an analyst at JP Morgan in Hong Kong, said.

“Finally we feel we can talk about a return to normalcy.”

Sands China rose more than 13%, Wynn Macau climbed 7%, Galaxy Entertainment advanced 10% while shares of SJM and MGM China jumped 8% each.

While the border between Macau and the mainland has been open for two years, traffic remained sluggish due to the lack of e-visas, which were readily used by Chinese gamblers prior to the pandemic to make instant bookings.

Currently, Chinese tourists to Macau need to book a visa appointment followed by a week-long approval process. The individual visa scheme accounted for around 50% of Chinese visitors to Macau in 2019 while tour groups accounted for around 25% of visits.

In the first phase, the resumption of tour groups will come from five provinces – Guangdong, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Fujian – which represented nearly 60% of mainland visits to Macau in 2019.

 

  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard

 

ALSO SEE:

Macau to Shut Casinos Till Friday, Extend Lockdown

 

 

Arrest of Macau Junket Mogul Rocks World’s Biggest Gambling Hub

 

Chinese City Seeks Arrest of Macau Junket King Alvin Chau

 

China Regulators Set Sights on Macau Casinos, Triggering $18bn Plunge

 

 

 

 

Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

Recent Posts

China Buys Russian Oil at Deepest Discount in Months

The effective prices refiners pay could exceed the $60 per-barrel cap that came into effect…

8 mins ago

EV Maker Vietnam’s First Company to List in US

If successful, VinFast will be Vietnam's first company to list in the United States

8 mins ago

Plunging Trade Risks China’s Status as the ‘World’s Factory’

China's uncompromising Covid policies, poor domestic demand and a real estate sector crash all combined…

17 hours ago

China Debt Ratio Three Times GDP in Record High – Nikkei

With private businesses reluctant to spend, local government and state-owned banks stepped into the gap…

18 hours ago

US Eases Planned Curbs Against China Chips Over Cost Fears

The move followed pushback from trade groups like the US Chamber of Commerce which argued…

21 hours ago

Asia Stocks Sink as Recession, China Covid Fears Weigh

Investors were in pessimistic mood with US banks predicting a downturn next year and worries…

22 hours ago