Macao’s casino stocks surge on news of eased travel restrictions from the mainland
Published: Feb 23, 2021 11:38 AM

Casinos in Macao. Photo: CFP

Macao's casino stocks surge on Tuesday as the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions on all visitors from the mainland, which is expected to set gambling revenue on an upward trajectory from massive losses.

Galaxy Entertainment closed with a 9.66 percent gain at HK$76.65, in Tuesday trading after shooting up as much as 12 percent, its steepest gain since March 20 while shares in MGM China and Sands China each finished up by about 5 and 7 percent respectively.

The rally comes after the SAR government said it will lift its 14-day quarantine requirement for visitors from Shijiazhuang city of north China's Hebei and Suihua city in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province in response to the improved epidemic situation in the two regions, starting on Tuesday.

Following the new regulation all travelers entering Macao from the mainland are exempted from the 14-day medical observation or self-health management starting from Tuesday.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hammered gambling revenue in Macao. Macao's gaming revenue is down 79.3 percent in 2020 to $7.56 billion, according to the latest figures from the Macao gaming bureau in January.

Macao has gradually been easing quarantine rules on visitors from the mainland, its biggest market.

In terms of source regions Macao saw 20.285 million tourist arrivals in the first half of 2019 with 68 percent arriving from the Chinese mainland, followed by Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The easing quarantine policy between Chinese mainland and Macao, the use of vaccines, and expectations of the epidemic being brought under control in mainland could provide a ground for improvement for Macao casinos, which is the pillar industry of Macao, Dong Dengxin, director of the Financial Securities Institute at Wuhan University of Science and Technology, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

No local cases have been reported in Macao for 330 consecutive days as of Tuesday, according to data from Macao SAR.

Analysts expect the gaming revenue to have a steady rebound this year though they don't expect a significant easing of bottlenecks in the near term.

"There should be a restorative growth this year. However due to the lingering impact of the COVID-19 the number of tourist arrivals from the mainland will be significantly lower than that in 2019 and it might take one or two years for the industry to recover to pre-pandemic levels," he said.

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