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Macau Says It Hasn’t Received Notice of China Visa Tightening

Macau’s tourism office said it hasn’t received any notice of China tightening visa rules a day after Hong Kong-traded casinos dropped on speculation of restrictions on tourists from the mainland.

Casino operators including Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. and Sands China Ltd. fell on June 26 after an earlier Macau Daily report that growth in the number of mainland visitors may have slowed because Guangdong’s provincial government might have been tightening rules on issuing visas.

Visitors from the mainland drove casino revenue up 42 percent last year in the only city in China where casinos are legal, pushing up earnings at Macau resort operators. About 16 million mainland Chinese visited the world’s largest gambling hub in 2011.

“We have not received any notice on China tightening visa issuance to visitors traveling to Macau,” Gigi Chiu, a spokeswoman for the Macau Government Tourist Office, said by e-mail yesterday.

Mainland Chinese nationals need visas to go to Hong Kong and Macau, which are special administrative regions.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said they called several offices of China’s Division of Exit and Entry Administration Department, which handles visa issuance.

“Based on their responses we are not aware of any change in visa application process or timing,” analyst Billy Ng said in a June 26 note to clients.

Sands China rose 1.8 percent to HK$23.10 in Hong Kong trading yesterday. Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. climbed 3.5 percent, Wynn Macau Ltd. advanced 2.3 percent, MGM China Holdings Ltd. gained 1.2 percent and SJM Holdings Ltd. rose 1.3 percent. Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. fell 1.4 percent.

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