Macau casino stocks rise in Tuesday trade due to license renewal policy and Grand Prix

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Macau-based casinos have received a new lease of life after bright prospects of license renewals. This reflected in the rise of share prices of casinos operators on Tuesday. The upcoming Macau Grand Prix has also contributed substantially to the casinos’ short-term prospects as an influx in visitors is expected during the prestigious motorsport event in the city.

Melco International Development Ltd. rose the most, by 10%, while Wynn Macau Ltd. spiked by 8.7%. Also, SJM Holdings Ltd. reported a jump of 8.8%.

The casino market slumped to an unprecedented low during the pandemic and needed a major hand to rise again which comes in the form of the newly introduced policy on the licensing of casinos by the Macau government. The new policy stated that the bidders who seek to secure the license of the casinos will have to fork out a combined sum of $12.5 billion over the period of ten years.

While the investment in itself seems substantial, experts deem it to be fair as it is about one-third of the $35 billion invested by the incumbent six major casino operators in Macau in the past ten years, including during the slump of the pandemic era. However, Genting Malaysia Bhd., who are one of the outsiders since they do not have any establishment in the city are at a disadvantage as they would’ve to acquire assets in the gaming capital before investing the prerequisite total.

“This is bang in line with what we had expected and probably better than what the market feared–we view these as incrementally positive developments, supporting our view that the license-renewal process will be smooth with no big negative surprises,” DS Kim, JPMorgan’s head of Asia gaming, said in a note.

With the ease of restrictions in the country following three years of turbulence due to the pandemic, the casinos are expected to gain more traction in the coming days. The gaming experts believe that the upcoming Macau Grand Prix will also benefit the casino operators massively, boosting the inbound visitation and gross gaming revenue during the weekend between November 17 to 20th.

“We believe gross gaming revenue is gradually recovering on the back of the resumption of e-visas for mainland Chinese visitors,” Citi analysts George Choi and Ryan Cheung said in a note, citing an estimate, based on industry sources.