Macau: Casino stocks rise in Monday trade despite flare-up in Covid-19 cases

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Gaming stocks in Macau have risen on Monday after the restart of electronic travel permits is expected to boost visitation to the gambling hub despite concerns of potential Covid-19-related restrictions after a positive case was found at MGM Cotai over the weekend.

In Hong Kong, the index of casino shares closed more than 3% higher. Sands China Ltd. gained 4.4%, Wynn Macau Ltd. increased by 2.6%, and SJM Holdings Ltd. climbed by 1.2%. In US trading, Shares of Wynn Resorts Ltd. shot up by as much as 8.7%, while Las Vegas Sands Corp. increased by as much as 2.6%.

A US regulatory filing revealed that billionaire Tilman Fertitta, CEO of Fertitta Entertainment and owner of the NBA franchise Houston Rockets, declared a 6.1% holding in Wynn Resorts, helping in driving up the share price.

China’s immigration administration said it would permit residents to apply for electronic travel permits to the city starting from November 1, including for group tours and individual travel, despite concerns of increase in infections in Macau over the past week, risking derailing plans to resume easier travel for mainland visitors.

The National Immigration Administration stated that although the Covid situation is stable, the authorities would change border security measures as needed to support social and economic advancement.

The news about resumption of group tours, which are a significant source of tourism for Macau, has not yet been publicly confirmed. Travel advisors claimed they haven’t launched new tours and haven’t heard from officials about the restart. A government official and a representative from the Macau Tourism Office stated that they were unaware of any additional information.

According to experts at Citigroup Inc., including George Choi, the e-visas came sooner than anticipated and indicates the Chinese government’s support for the city’s economic recovery. They also said that some mainland travel companies have begun to promote Macau group tours.

Even when initiatives to increase tourism are in the works, Covid flare-up may temporarily hinder hopes for the gaming sector as a resident from Macau who traveled back and forth to the neighboring city of Zhuhai tested positive.

The city has also placed personnel and visitors in quarantine and closed the MGM Cotai casino, restaurants, and shops in the premises of the hotel where a positive Covid patient worked.

According to authorities, until November 5 both Macau and Zhuhai would need a negative nucleic acid test within 24 hours of entry into the city. For visitors from Macau, Zhuhai also mandates three days of at-home health monitoring.