Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) appears to be moving closer to an initial public offering (IPO) for a piece of its Macau operation in an environment that offers both enthusiasm and caution.

The South China Morning Post said Wednesday that Las Vegas Sands could reach the market with an IPO as big as $2.5 billion (U.S.) on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange by November.

The enthusiasm for a Las Vegas Sands IPO is due in part to the strong support for Wynn Resorts' (NASDAQ:WYNN) recent IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange of 25% of its Macau subsidiary. Wynn's IPO, which raised $1.6 billion, came in at the high end of the underwriters' offering range. The stock price has advanced since last week's opening.

More visitors, more money
Other encouraging signs include a statement by Francis Lui, chairman of Chinese casino operator Galaxy Entertainment, that there have been year-over-year revenue gains in Macau gambling for July and August. In addition, he expects the rest of the year to continue on a successful track.

Investors will have to wait for third-quarter results from Wynn, Las Vegas Sands, Melco Crown Entertainment (NASDAQ:MPEL), and MGM Mirage (NYSE:MGM) to assess benefits from the relaxing of travel restrictions between China's mainland and Macau. It will be helpful to see how much of the overall Macau revenue gain came from Melco Crown's opening of a major casino in June.

More government restrictions
It's the unpredictable nature of the Chinese government that brings caution to forecasts about a Las Vegas Sands IPO, or any other gambling event in Macau. For instance, on Monday, government officials discussed new gambling restrictions with executives of the casino operators in Macau -- the four mentioned above plus SJM Holdings and Galaxy Entertainment, which are traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Initial media accounts resulted in sinking shares of Las Vegas Sands and other U.S. casino operators in Macau.

However, investors overreacted to the concrete proposals. Raising the gambling age to 21 from 18 and keeping slot machines out of residential neighborhoods won't hurt the high-roller plans of the U.S. companies.

Tough to predict
The main wild card was the government's decision to "review the scale of the industry, including the number of gaming tables."

It was unclear how, or if, this review would affect soon-to-open casinos, such as Wynn Encore, and casinos for which construction has been suspended (Las Vegas Sands) or decelerated (Galaxy Entertainment). And what about situations in which operators have obtained, or are seeking, land for casinos but haven't received the necessary government approvals or haven't started construction?

There are many issues and many difficult questions to answer; so let's worry about them another day. The truth is, in the short term, they shouldn't affect Las Vegas Sands' IPO. The best news: The IPO will give Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson some extra money to help finance additional Macau ambitions.

Fool contributor Robert Steyer doesn't own shares of any companies cited in this story. Melco Crown Entertainment is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.