Updated at 11:01 am EST
Las Vegas Sands (LVS) - Get Free Report shares lead U.S. casino operators sharply higher Monday after officials in the city of Macau, the world's largest gaming hub, agreed to allow tour groups from mainland China for the first time in nearly three years.
Macau, a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, said group visits - heavily restricted by during both the 2020 pandemic and its resurgence this year -- will begin again in November.
Visitors from five provinces -- Guangdong, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Fujian -- will no longer need to go through a complicated e-visa process to visit Macau, the only city under Beijing's control that allows legalized gambling, under terms of the first phase of its new regulations.
Macau's gaming market generated around $37 billion in annual revenues prior to the pandemic, around five times more than the collective take of the Las Vegas strip. Wynn Resorts (WYNN) - Get Free Report generates around 70% of its overall revenues from Macau, while Las Vegas Sands collects around 62%.
Las Vegas Sands shares were marked 13.7% higher in early trading to changed hands at $40.29 each, a move that would nudge the stock's year-to-date gain to around 3.7%. Wynn Resorts meanwhile, rose 14.4% to $68.22 each.