HONG KONG Dec 9 Casino stocks from Australia's
Crown Resorts to Las Vegas Sands tumbled after
a report that Macau, the world's biggest gambling hub, would
limit cash withdrawals as part of a Beijing-led crackdown on
The South China Morning Post, citing a finance industry
source, reported late on Thursday that Macau would halve the
amount of cash that China UnionPay cardholders can withdraw from
automated teller machines (ATMs) in the territory.
The move by the Monetary Authority of Macau would cut daily
limit for clients of China's largest provider of bank cards to
5,000 patacas ($626) from 10,000 currently, the newspaper
reported. It takes effect from Saturday. (bit.ly/2hpKhHI)
The report triggered sharp drops in shares of U.S. and other
casino operators, which make much of their profit in Macau and
are still recovering from an anti-graft campaign under President
Monthly revenues from Macau only returned to growth in
August this year and have since posted four months of growth
thanks to new resorts bringing in casual gamblers, prompting
analysts to call the bottom.
ATM withdrawals are not a major source of cash for most
Chinese gamblers, especially VIP players known as high rollers.
Many average players have also used UnionPay to purchase goods,
then returning them for a cash refund and gambling that. But the
new policy is an indication of concern.
Shares of Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd fell as
much as 17 percent, Las Vegas Sands Corp declined 14
percent, Wynn Resorts Ltd fell 12 percent and MGM
Resorts International fell 7 percent.
Crown Resorts shares were down over 6 percent at 0114 GMT.
MGM China was down more than 8 percent, while Galaxy
Entertainment was down over 7 percent.
Ric Spooner, chief strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, said
Beijing's anti-corruption drive has turned out not to be the
short term window-dressing exercise some had expected.
"The Chinese government has been very consistent about this
and continues to do things aimed at limiting the problems of
corruption, and that suggests that the lower levels of demand
seen in Macau are fairly permanent."
The reported ATM withdrawal limit "is just more evidence
that China is serious in its intent on limiting this sort of
behaviour", Spooner said.
Curbs on the daily cash withdrawal limit in Macau come as
China steps up measures to stem capital outflows more broadly.
Chinese State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) has
been vetting transfers abroad worth $5 million or more and was
increasing scrutiny of major outbound deals, even those with
The yuan skidded to more than eight-year lows at the end of
November and China's foreign exchange reserves fell far more
than expected in the month to $3.05 trillion, the lowest in
nearly six years.
($1 = 7.9810 patacas)
(Reporting by Clare Jim in Hong Kong, Clara Ferreira-Marques in
Singapore, Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru and Byron Kaye in Sydney;
Editing by Lincoln Feast)