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Saturday, May 21, 2022
Stocks & Shares

Shares in Macau’s casinos soar after gaming bill revealed

macau

Macau’s multibillion-dollar industry has been on tenterhooks ever since officials announced plans to overhaul the sector last September

Shares in Macau’s casino giants soared Monday morning after the world’s biggest gambling hub announced changes to its regulations, reducing the uncertainty that has plagued the lucrative sector’s six operators.

The Chinese territory’s multibillion-dollar industry has been on tenterhooks ever since officials announced plans to overhaul the sector last September, but new rules unveiled on Friday were less punishing than expected.

Shares in all six casino operators rallied early Monday in Hong Kong, with Sands China seeing the greatest gain at nearly 13 percent, followed by Wynn Macau at 9.6 percent.

MGM China saw an 8.1 percent surge, while Galaxy Entertainment and Melco International added 7 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively.

SJM Holdings saw the smallest bump, though still substantial, at nearly 5 percent.

Under a proposed bill unveiled Friday, the number of gaming concessions will remain at six.

But the length of the concessions — which come up for renewal in June for all six – ‘will not exceed 10 years’, slashing the previous terms by half.

In exceptional situations, concessions can be extended by an additional three years.

It also plans to increase the proportion of local ownership in casino firms from the current 10 percent to 15 percent.

Under the new rules, Macau’s Executive Council on Friday also said gaming must not undermine China’s national security.

Since the industry liberalised in 2002, the sector has exploded into a $24 billion cash cow, its operations accounting for about 80 percent of government revenue and more than half of gross domestic product (GDP).

But Macau was also a playground for wealthy officials and tycoons, allowing them to skirt China’s strict rules on how much cash can be taken out of the country.

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