Macau casinos are desperately seeking to return to the regulatory environment they operated in prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the world’s richest gaming market received much welcomed news regarding entry procedures.
Effective tomorrow, March 3, at 12:01 am China Standard Time, casinos in Macau no longer need to receive proof from gamblers trying to enter the gaming floor that they are free of COVID-19. Since early 2020, casinos have been forced to require gamblers to present a recent negative test certificate.
It’s the latest piece of good news for the industry that has been ravaged by the pandemic.
Stocks of Macau’s six publicly traded commercial casino operators soared last week on news that people entering the Chinese Special Administrative Region would no longer be subjected to mandatory quarantines. Only individuals arriving from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan can currently travel to Macau.
Before the withdrawal of the quarantine requirement, guests entering Macau were forced to quarantine for two to three weeks.
The easing of quarantines is expected to lure back many Chinese visitors to Macau. Though a recent negative COVID-19 test result is still required at the border gate, eliminating the hassle of constantly presenting the certificate at each casino frees up people to move about the area.
Easing quarantine policy between mainland China and Macau could provide a ground for foot traffic improvement for Macau casinos” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Angela Hanlee.
Macau casinos are fresh off their worst year since 2006. The six operators collectively won $7.5 billion in 2020. They won $36.5 billion in 2019.
Shares of the gaming operators plunged throughout 2020. Savvy investors saw a buying an opportunity, and much of those losses have since been recovered.
Company — Year to Date Share Price
- Sands — $57.95 to $64.90, +12 percent
- MGM — $29.70 to $38.73, +30 percent
- Wynn — $106.90 to $133.86, +25 percent
- Melco — $17.94 to $22.87, +27 percent
- Galaxy — $7.74 to $8.87, +15 percent
- SJM — $1.05 to $1.46, +39 percent
Easing Entry Process
Though restrictions regarding COVID-19 are easing in Macau, there won’t be a rush of visitors in the near term. That won’t happen until China resumes e-visa applications for Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) permits.
IVS allows travelers to venture into Macau on an individual basis. Prior to the program’s launch in 2003, only travelers with business visas or on group tours could enter Macau.
China halted the e-visa process last year to slow travel. Macau officials are actively working with mainland authorities to resume electronic applications as soon as deemed safe. That could come sooner than later, as no area in all of China is currently considered a medium or high-risk area for COVID-19.
“The number of infection cases reported on the mainland had significantly dropped since mid-February. No mainland city or area had been identified by the mainland authorities as a medium- or high-risk area for COVID-19 infection for 10 consecutive days,” a Macau government release stated. “Nor – as of today – had any new community transmission cases been reported for 24 consecutive days.”
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