VIE 27 DE ENERO DE 2023 - 14:19hs.
Up to 13%

Macau casino shares soar after China allows tour groups after nearly 3 years

Shares in Macau's casino operators rose as much as 13% this Monday (26) after the city's leader said China would resume an e-visa scheme for mainland travelers and allow group tours, which could likely increase the number of customers at the world's largest casino. Sands China is up more than 13%, Wynn Macau is up 7%, Galaxy Entertainment 10%, while SJM and MGM China shares are up 8% each.

The Chinese special administrative region, which is the only place in the country where it is legal for citizens to gamble at casinos, aims to open to mainland tour groups in November for the first time in nearly three years, said the city's chief executive, Ho Iat-seng said on Saturday (24).

Macau, a former Portuguese colony, has implemented strict restrictions on the COVID-19 pandemic with strict border controls since 2020, resulting in a major impact on its casino industry.

The announcement came earlier than expected, said analysts, who had expected such measures to be introduced only at the beginning of next year. Mainland players make up around 90% of the casino's total revenue.

“While it is difficult to quantify the immediate benefit, we believe that the resumption of e-visas and group tours should ease the friction for a trip to Macau, as well as signal to many that it is okay to visit. Finally, we feel we can talk about a return to normalcy,” said DS Kim, an analyst at JP. Morgan in Hong Kong.

Sands China is up more than 13%, Wynn Macau is up 7%, Galaxy Entertainment is up 10%, while SJM and MGM China shares are up 8% each.

Although the border between Macau and the mainland has been open for two years, traffic has remained sluggish due to a lack of electronic visas, which were readily used by Chinese players before the pandemic to make instant bookings.

Currently, Chinese tourists in Macau are required to make an appointment for a visa followed by a week-long approval process. The individual visa regime accounted for around 50% of Chinese visitors to Macau in 2019, while tour groups accounted for around 25% of visitation.

In a first phase, the resumption of tourist groups will come from five provinces — Guangdong, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Fujian — which accounted for almost 60% of visits to the mainland to Macau in 2019.

(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Kim Coghill and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)