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Macau Casino Stocks Soar as China Expands Individual Visit Scheme

Macau casino stocks surged in early trading on Monday following China's announcement of the inclusion of eight additional cities in its Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) program. The State Council of the People’s Republic of China revealed on Saturday that individuals from these cities can now easily travel to Macau and Hong Kong without the need for business visas or group tours.

Macau Casino Stocks Soar as China Expands Individual Visit Scheme

Ho Iat Seng, Macau's chief official, expressed enthusiasm about the decision, foreseeing an increase in visitors to the region. He emphasized the government's commitment to promoting international events, enriching cultural and sports activities, and enhancing the overall travel experience for visitors.

Starting May 27, residents from Taiyuan, Hohhot, Harbin, Lhasa, Lanzhou, Xining, Yinchuan, and Urumqi will be eligible to participate in the IVS program, administered by China’s Exit and Entry Administration.

US-traded casino stocks operating in Macau saw a notable uptick in response to the IVS news. As of 11 am EST, Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, and Melco Resorts all experienced positive gains.

Analysts view the expansion of the IVS program as a demonstration of China’s ongoing support for Macau and its gaming industry. Casinos play a significant role in Macau's economy, contributing 77% of its tax revenue last year.

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The IVS expansion aligns with Hong Kong's efforts to revive its economy post-COVID and Macau's evolving economic landscape following changes in VIP junket groups catering to mainland high rollers.

The six major casino companies in Macau have pledged nearly $18 billion in nongaming projects at their resorts, a commitment made in late 2022 in exchange for 10-year extensions of their gaming licenses.

The IVS program allows individuals from qualifying cities to electronically apply for visas to Macau or Hong Kong, valid for up to a year. There are currently no restrictions on the number of IVS endorsements a traveler can receive in a year.

The Macau SAR Government expects a significant increase in visitor numbers this year, with the inclusion of eight more cities in the IVS program likely to further boost this forecast.



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