Macau Will 'Strengthen' Gaming Regulations, Posing Risk To Casino Boom – Investor's Business Daily

Authorities in Macau said that they would evaluate and tighten up gambling laws and plan to increase restrictions on junket operators in January, potentially weighing on sales for casino resort operators like Las Vegas Sands (LVS), Wynn Macau (WYNN), MGM Resorts International (MGM) and Melco Resorts & Entertainment (MLCO).

XAutoplay: On | OffThose plans, outlined in a yearly address from Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui, would come as gaming in the area — a Chinese special administrative and the only area in the nation where gambling is legal — continues to rebound despite the threat of greater regulatory scrutiny.

Even as Macau tries to diversify its economy, the global gaming hub some two weeks ago posted its 15 straight month of sales gains, following a long stretch of declines due to anti-money laundering efforts and a general corruption crackdown. Melco Resorts & Entertainment this month reported Q3 results that beat forecasts, helped by gains in Macau and the Philippines.

“The government will review and strengthen the gaming rules,” Chui said, according to Bloomberg. “The government will also regulate junket operations, promote responsible gaming and boost the Macau casino industry’s competitiveness.”

China in recent years has accused junket operators, the middlemen who loan VIPs money and otherwise try to entice them into casinos, of money laundering. Macau has also capped daily ATM withdrawal limits for China UnionPay cardholders and installed facial-recognition technology on ATMs.

Wall Street appeared indifferent to Tuesday’s news. Las Vegas Sands fell 0.4% in the stock market today, in line with the broader market retreat. Wynn Resorts dipped 0.75%. Melco Resorts sank 1%. MGM Resort, less exposed to Macau than the other global giants, dipped 0.2%.

Separately, International Game Technology (IGT) gapped nearly 14%

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