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Macau casino stocks surge as border restrictions lifted

Macau-based casino stocks surged Tuesday following China’s relaxation of COVID-related border restrictions between Macau and Guangdong.

Macau

Guangdong authorities said from 15 July, visitors arriving from the world’s gambling capital are no longer required to undergo a 14-day quarantine – the enforcement of which led to 4,537 arrivals in May, compared with 1.1 million monthly arrivals in 2019.

Galaxy Entertainment soared by over 10% in trading, while Sands China, which also has a huge presence in Macau’s Cotai Strip, shot up by 8.9% to US$4.33.

Although Wynn Macau climbed 7% and MGM China rose by 5%, their stocks are still down 25% and 21% respectively for the year to date. Industry analysts remain divided on recovery prospects.

Some say demand from Guangdong is expected to swiftly recover to 70% of normal levels, provided visas are resumed. Others say that hurdles to movement still remain as individuals must hold ‘green’ health codes and have tested negative for the virus seven days before crossing the border.

Jefferies Group gaming analyst Andrew Lee also emphasised potential issues relating to travel restrictions, specifically citing the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS).

“The IVS visa programme allowing Guangdong residents to visit Macau is still suspended, which accounts for 73% of Guangdong arrivals in Macau,” he said.

Chinese authorities stopped IVS visas at the end of January when many cities and provinces across the country enforced travel bans and quarantines to contain the pandemic, causing arrivals from Guangdong to plunge by 98% year-on-year.

Prior to the government’s decision, Guangdong’s border with mainland China had been effectively shut since late March, contributing to massive revenue losses for the country’s gambling industry.

Gross gaming revenue in Macau collapsed 96% in Q2 with a bleak 70% drop projected for Q3, according to Bloomberg. Macau casino operators also experienced an aggregate US$1.4 billion loss in adjusted property EBITDA as a result of the virus.


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