U.S. casino stocks fall with jitters over Macau regulations, COVID-19 outbreak

FILE PHOTO: Gaming machines are seen inside a casino on the opening day of Sheraton Macao hotel at Sands Cotai Central in Macau

By Sinéad Carew and Farah Master

(Reuters) – Shares in U.S. casinos with operations in Macau fell on Tuesday, with Las Vegas Sands Corp down 12.3% and Wynn Resorts Ltd down 12.4% on concerns about stiffer regulations there and a COVID-19 outbreak.

China’s health authorities said new COVID-19 infections more than doubled in the southeastern Fujian province, prompting officials to roll out measures that include travel restrictions to halt the spread of the virus.

Also, the Macau government said on Tuesday it was kicking off a 45-day public consultation https://www.gov.mo/zh-hans/news/556115 to review the gaming industry, including issues such as the number and duration of casino licenses as well as supervision requirements.

Las Vegas Sands’ shares dropped to $37.12, their lowest level since Aug. 20, while Wynn hit a low of $90.42, a level not touched since Aug. 23. MGM Resorts International shares were down 4.5% at $41.15.

“Fujian is hopefully transitory. The supervision continues ongoing efforts and shouldn’t be to surprising,” said Morningstar analyst Dan Wasiolek. But he noted that “in the current environment of China increasing oversight on technology companies, investors in Macau are a bit on edge today.”

Beijing has been engaged in a broad regulatory crackdown that has ensnared sectors ranging from technology to education and property and wiped billions of dollars off the market value of some of the country’s largest companies.

U.S. shares of Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd were down 7.2% at $11.79.

(Reporting by Farah Master in Hong Kong, Deborah Sophia in Bengaluru, Sinéad Carew and Lance Tupper in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)