Macau casinos rejoice as Guangdong lifts COVID quarantine

Macau casino operators’ stocks are soaring on news that China’s Guangdong province will lift its 14-day quarantine for individuals returning from the world’s top gambling hub.

On Monday, authorities in Guangdong and Macau announced “the orderly promotion of the normal exchange of personnel” between the two regions. The change is scheduled to take effect at 6am on Wednesday, July 15.

Guangdong imposed its Macau-specific COVID-19 quarantine rules in late-March, requiring all individuals arriving on the mainland from Macau to self-isolate for 14 days (at their own expense). Guangdong is China’s most populous province and the closest to Macau in geographic terms, making it the single largest source of gamblers for Macau’s casinos.

All individuals seeking Guangdong access will need to provide a negative COVID result from an approved testing site and apply for entry at least 24 hours prior to arrival. The quarantine will still apply to individuals who (a) display COVID-19 symptoms, (b) have had contact with COVID patients or (c) have traveled overseas in the 14 days prior to arriving in Guangdong.

Guangdong residents returning from Macau must remain in the province for 14 days, during which they will be required to provide authorities on daily updates on their health status. Non-residents arriving from Macau must stay in one of nine Guangdong cities – Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, and Zhaoqing – for 14 days.

Macau officials simultaneously announced that all individuals seeking entry to local casinos must provide “a valid health code and nucleic acid test certificate.”

Macau casino operators have faced unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, with the Guangdong quarantine viewed as the single biggest limit to their ability to generate revenue. In June, Macau casinos reported combined revenue of just $89.7m, the market’s lowest monthly total on record.

At time of writing, MGM Resorts’ share price is up over 5%, Las Vegas Sands is 7.5% higher and Wynn Resorts has jumped nearly 12%. Melco Resorts & Entertainment soared 17%, while SJM Holdings closed out Monday’s trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange up only 2.4% after rising as much as 5% in earlier trading. Galaxy Entertainment Group endured a similar rise and fall, closing out Monday up a mere 0.3%.

Investors in the latter two companies may be wary of increasing their stakes due to recent news of a COVID-19 resurgence in Hong Kong, which resulted in the halting of discussions aimed at easing travel restrictions between Hong Kong and Macau. 

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