The Chinese enclave of Macao, essentially the Las Vegas of Asia, will begin issuing tourist visas anew this Wednesday. The reinstatement, announced by the Macao government Monday, will at first apply only to visitors from the neighboring city of Zhuhai on the Chinese mainland.
The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the traditional casino business. Public health authorities have mandated closures of many casinos, which have suffered deep declines in revenue as a result. The enclave's latest official monthly figures show that gambling revenue plunged by almost 95% year over year in July.
Top U.S. casino operators have a significant presence in Macao, with MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) both operating once-thriving complexes in the enclave. Despite its name, Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) has more resorts in Macao than it does in its native Nevada city.
All three companies have been struggling mightily during the pandemic, and the near-total shutdown of the Macao market is a major reason why. Las Vegas Sands' total global sales narrowed to only $98 million in its second quarter, down from the over $3.3 billion it collected in pre-pandemic Q2 2019. MGM also recorded an extremely steep fall in revenue in its most recently reported frame.
On Monday, all three stocks rose on the hopeful Macao visa news, topping the gains of fellow consumer goods titles and the key market indexes. Las Vegas Sands closed the day 7.5% higher, and Wynn advanced by nearly 10%. MGM surged almost 14% ahead, though this was also due to the entry of a major new investor.