* Will monitor growth of gambling industry
* Casino stocks in Hong Kong end down as much as 2 pct
* Sands, Wynn, MGM Mirage shares gain in U.S.
(Adds U.S. casino stocks' performance in paragraph 6)
By Donny Kwok and Sui-Lee Wee
HONG KONG, March 16 Macau will seek to regulate
the building of new casinos, its chief executive said, a sign
that the government is trying to temper overheating in the
world's fastest-growing gambling market.
Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui's comments could
brighten the outlook for existing casino operators, including
Las Vegas Sands (LVS.N) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN.O) and their
locally listed units Sands China (1928.HK) and Wynn Macau
(1128.HK). Potential curbs would help profits by limiting
"Apart from those we have agreed in principle in the past,
in construction and those already approved, we will regulate
(approval of the building of new casinos) in the future," Chui
told a news conference on Tuesday after delivering his first
He also said the government plans to set up a regulatory
body to monitor the growth of the gambling industry.
Shares of U.S.-listed casino companies operating in Macau
were higher on Tuesday after weakening on Monday amid wariness
that the Chinese city's new chief executive could unveil a 2010
policy plan that caps its fast-growing gambling industry.
Las Vegas Sands shares were up 4.9 percent on the New York
Stock Exchange, while Wynn Resorts gained nearly 3 percent. MGM
Mirage (MGM.N), which plans a public offering of its Macau
joint venture, was up 5 percent.
In Hong Kong, shares of casino operators ended down between
0.2 percent and 2 percent.
Macau, once a Portuguese colony and now a special
administrative region under Chinese rule, has repeatedly sought
to rein in the explosive growth in the only market in China
where gambling is legal.
Earlier government strictures, dating from April 2008,
included a moratorium on new casino licenses, a building freeze
and a cap on visas to mainland Chinese visiting Macau, moves
seen as motivated by an increasingly concerned Beijing.
The Macau government is unlikely to make new gambling
concessions available, the territory's chief gambling regulator
told Reuters in an interview in January. [ID:nTOE60I0A5]
Gambling revenue in Macau, which passed Las Vegas several
years ago to become the world's No.1 gambling centre, rose
nearly 70 percent in both January and February compared with a
Other Macau casino operators include Galaxy Entertainment
Group (0027.HK), SJM Holdings Ltd (0880.HK), Melco Crown
Entertainment Ltd MPEL.O and a casino run by MGM Mirage and
local businesswoman Pansy Ho.
Separately, Chui said Macau will speed up the development
of public housing in a bid to cool its red-hot property
(Reporting by Donny Kwok and Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Chris
Lewis and John Wallace)