Macau casino shares prices slide; government tries to ease concerns

By Alex Hammond
Macau authorities have announced that they have not restricted daily cash withdrawals for Chinese gamblers, after a report to the contrary sent shares in the area’s major casino operators tumbling.

The South China Morning Post (citing an financial industry source) reported yesterday that China UnionPay (the largest provider of bank cards to Chinese citizens) cardholders would have the maximum amount they could withdraw from ATMs in the region halved to 5,000 patacas ($626).

The Macau authority countered the story, confirming that it had limited withdrawals to 5,000 patacas per transaction, but had not limited the number of transactions card owners could make per day.

Shares in gaming corporations with prominent business in the region, including Melco Crown Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands Corp and Wynn Resorts fell more than 10% when the South China Morning Post story broke.

Most Chinese gamblers do not use bank cards to withdraw money to gamble, with privacy concerns being the main reason for this, it is more the threat of further scrutiny on the gambling industry in Macau in general that had alarmed the markets, rather than the potential immediate loss of revenue.

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