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How Will Macau Phone Betting Ban Impact Casino Operators?

MGM Resorts International NYSE:MGM, IKGH - How Will Macau Phone Betting Ban Impact Casino Operators?

The Macau Gaming Inspection Coordination Bureau has placed yet another restriction on the Macau gaming market by banning “proxy betting” starting this week. The recent corruption crackdown in Macau has spooked many VIP high-roller gamblers away from the casinos, but others have been using phone proxy betting as a creative way to continue to gamble in Macau without being seen at a table.

Proxy gamblers place bets over the phone from the Chinese mainland and have game information relayed back to them. Analysts estimate that proxy betting accounted for 5 to 10 percent of Macau’s remaining VIP turnover.

While that’s certainly not a huge percentage, it’s hard to blame U.S. investors for being concerned about yet another gambling restriction in the struggling Macau market.

Which companies (if any) will be hit hardest by the proxy gambling ban?

All of the U.S.-listed Macau operators are downplaying the impact of the ban, but MGM Resorts International MGM 3.41% China CEO Grant Bowie believes that Macau’s junket operators, such as Iao Kun Group Holding Co Ltd IKGH 0.91%, will feel the most pressure. As for MGM, Bowie said the impact is “not going to be that significant.”

Wynn Resorts, Limited WYNN 4.63% CEO Steve Wynn echoed Bowie’s sentiment during his Q1 conference call, saying that the ban would be “insignificant to Wynn.”

Las Vegas Sands Corp. LVS 2.85% should see zero impact from the ban since it has not allowed proxy gambling since 2014.

Disclosure: The author holds no position in the stocks mentioned.

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