Image source: Melco Crown.

What: Shares of gaming operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd (NASDAQ:MLCO) jumped 11% in July, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, as the market gained confidence that the Macau market is starting to turn around.

So what: Macau's gaming revenue dropped 8.5% in June to $1.99 billion, which was on the top end of analyst estimates. Another assist came from earnings results from Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts: both said that, while VIP play may be weak, mass market players are starting to play more this summer. There's only a small data set, but recent results fuel speculation that Macau may have finally passed bottom. 

Another positive for Melco Crown was Wynn Resorts estimating that it will only get 100 additional table games when Wynn Palace opens. Macau is putting a cap on table game growth, which is an advantage for companies that already have tables and resorts up and running.

Now what: Melco Crown was really riding a rise in Macau gaming stocks overall. Any sign that Macau's gaming market may be recovering could send stocks soaring, and that's what happened in July. But the keys will be a long-term recovery and the ability to manage cost to remain profitable. The first step will be second quarter results, which will be reported on Thursday, August 4 when we'll see if Melco Crown is maintaining market share and growing amid mass market growth, which would keep the stock moving higher.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.