Macau Limits Jewelers to Add More Card Devices in Casinos

Macau’s government banned jewelry and watch retailers operating in casinos from adding new card devices starting next month, adding to moves to regulate money flow in the world’s largest gambling hub.

While banks were asked to strengthen the monitoring of large cash and card transactions, the government hasn’t asked jewelers in casinos to cease operations or move out, Francis Tam, the city’s secretary for economy and finance, said in a statement yesterday.

The latest move follows a crackdown on the use of state-backed China UnionPay Co.’s hand-held card swipers within casino resorts amid concern that illicit funds are being taken out of the mainland into Macau. Shares of Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd., the casino company that helped make Lui Che-woo a billionaire, and those of Sheldon Adelson’s Sands China Ltd. surged today after the government’s announcement.

“Macau government clarified the policy on the use of cash cards, that it hasn’t asked jewelers to move out of casinos,” Steven Leung, a director at UOB Kay Hian Ltd. in Hong Kong, said by telephone. “It gives investors some degree of comfort to bargain hunt.”

Shares of Galaxy Entertainment rose 3.7 percent, the biggest jump since May 30, to close at HK$59.50. The stock pared its decline this year to 14.5 percent, while the benchmark Hang Seng Index has lost 0.5 percent. Sands China climbed 4 percent to HK$57.20.

Wynn Macau Ltd., the Macau unit of Steve Wynn’s Wynn Resorts Ltd., jumped 5.5 percent and MGM China Holdings Ltd. rose 3.7 percent. SJM Holdings Ltd. climbed 3 percent and Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. added 3 percent.

Increase Scrutiny

The government may also step up scrutiny of card deals within casinos at an appropriate time, Tam said in the statement.

Macau’s Monetary Authority has ordered luxury goods retailers operating on casino floors to remove their UnionPay card terminals by July 1, SJM, Asia’s biggest casino operator, said earlier this month. The banking regulator didn’t reply to e-mails or answer calls seeking confirmation at the time.

The police in Macau, the only place in China where casinos are legal, arrested 12 people in February and March after an investigation into the use of mobile card-swiping devices from UnionPay. The crackdown was aimed at stopping gamblers from illegally using the devices in casinos to get cash, according to the police.

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