Macau’s casinos have been patiently waiting for well over a year for the government to show some sign of relaxing its tough stance on anti-corruption and easing its stringent regulations to encourage gamblers from Mainland China to once again start visiting Macau.
Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd recently announced that it had gathered information from multiple local sources that the government was going to make changes to Macau’s transit visa scheme and make it easier for tourists to enter the biggest gambling hub in the world. Union Gaming said it expected Macau’s government to announce these proposed changes to transit visa rules before the end of 2015.
In a note quoted by GGRAsia, Grant Govertsen, an analyst at Union Gaming said “persons entering Macau (ostensibly) for the purposes of transiting to a third party country would be allowed to stay for up to 14 days (from 7) upon one’s first entry into Macau during any given month, and would then be allowed to stay up to 7 days (from 2) for a second entry during the same month”.
Macau’s government derives around 80 percent of its budget from the gambling industry and considering the steep and consistent decline in Macau’s casino revenues there have been concerns from a number of parties as to how Macau’s government was going to make up for the deficit. A few weeks earlier the director of the Central People’s Government Liaison Office in Macau, Li Gang provided some insight into what the central government had in mind when he stated that the government was in the process of rolling out new policies that would be more in favor of the gaming industry.
Earlier this year, Macau’s government had relaxed transit visa restrictions for residents of Mainland China and confirmed that from the 1st of July, residents from the Mainland would be allowed to stay in Macau for a maximum of 7 days, provided they could show proof of departure to a third destination. Prior to the change in rules, transit visa restrictions limited Mainland Chinese to just 5 days in Macau.
Union Gaming stated that they had initially believed that the proposed changes would be made to the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) which makes it possible for residents from the Mainland to visit Macau as independent travelers instead of having to be a part of a tour group. Govertsen also stated that this new change could signify that the darkest days for Macau’s casinos could now be behind them as the government starts to take steps to arrest the declining casino industry.
Union Gaming believes that this new relaxed transit visa scheme will greatly benefit junket operators who play an extremely vital role in bringing VIP gamblers into Macau and to some extent will benefit mass market premium players.