The Macau casino sector pushed higher in early trading on Tuesday off indications that Hong Kong wants to relax COVID rules such as mandatory hotel quarantine. The expectation is that hotel quarantine will be replaced with seven days of home health monitoring.
Crucially, Mainland officials are reported to have signaled their approval for new COVID rules with the number of infections in Hong Kong down to 6K per day. That would mark one of the first indications of Beijing moving off a zero-tolerance COVID policy.
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee has taken some notable steps to make travel easier since moving into the top spot on July 1. Bloomberg noted that he ended some flight bans that could derail travel plans, reduced hotel quarantine stays, and announced a plan to stop ordering people into government-run isolation facilities. Those changes have occurred with the financial hub losing business and workers to other Asian cities with less restrictive policies.
The new developments may not move the meter for a while in terms of gross gaming revenue. UBS recently lowered its 2022 Macau GGR forecast for it to be down 82% compared to 2019 and sees 2023 GGR being down 49% vs. the pre-pandemic level. The firm notes Sands China (OTCPK:SCHYY), Wynn Macau (OTCPK:WYNMF) and Las Vegas Sands (LVS) have sufficient liquidity for the next 12 to 15 months.