On the back of news Macau will welcome back tour groups from mainland China in November, shares in the Special Administrative Region’s casinos have soared, including Sands China. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
A much-needed return
Sands China’s shares have risen 13% after Macau CEO Ho Iat Seng announced mainland China tour groups can return to the gambling hub in November. Over the weekend, the chief executive announced that the Special Administrative Region (SAR) will relaunch “an e-visa scheme for mainland travelers and permit group tours.”
shares of MGM China and SJM Holdings jumped 8% each
Sands China, a subsidiary of Las Vegas Sands, saw the highest increase in share price among Macau’s casino operators, which all saw growth on Monday morning. According to Reuters, Wynn Macau’s stock climbed 7%, while shares of MGM China and SJM Holdings jumped 8% each. Galaxy Entertainment, saw its shares climb 10%.
When the gambling mecca welcomes its first mainland China tour group in November as planned, it will mark the first time in three years that the lucrative groups will visit Macau as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Back to normal?
As reported by Reuters, JP Morgan Hong Kong analyst DS Kim outlined the benefits of the new announcement. He said: “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.” Ultimately, Kim expressed a sense of relief, adding: “Finally we feel we can talk about a return to normalcy.”
While travel between the mainland and Macau has taken place for the past two years, Chinese gamblers cannot currently get the e-visa service they used pre-pandemic to make instant group bookings. Chinese visitors currently need to book a visa appointment, which precedes a week-long approval process.
According to Reuters, Macau will not allow groups from every area in China all at once. Instead, officials will phase in groups from various provinces. The first phase will see groups allowed in from Guangdong, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Fujian. These provinces represented nearly 60% of mainland visits to the SAR in 2019.
Christmas comes early
The uncompromising Chinese approach to COVID-19 has caused serious harm to the casino industry of Macau, especially because mainland gamblers are responsible for approximately 90% of the jurisdiction’s total casino revenue.
Nevertheless, some analysts believe Saturday’s announcement from Macau’s CEO has come earlier than anticipated. They only expected the return of e-visas and group travel in early 2023, according to Reuters.
For Sands and its fellow big-six casino operators in Macau — including Wynn who was the first of its contemporaries to apply for a new Macau casino license in September — Christmas seems to have arrived early.