Casino stocks rise after Macau keeps licence limit

Jan 14 (Reuters) - Shares of casino operators jumped on Friday after the Macau government ended a period of uncertainty by keeping the casino operators allowed to operate in the world's largest gambling hub to six.

Las Vegas Sands , MGM Resorts , Wynn Resorts (WYNN.O) and Melco Resorts climbed between 4% and 13%, leading gains among S&P 500 (.SPX) components.

On Friday, in a move long awaited by casino executives, investors and analysts, the Macau government announced that the number of new casino operators allowed to function will continue to be limited to six concessionaires but their operating period will be halved to 10 years. read more

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Current licences of the six Macau casino operators - Wynn Macau (1128.HK), Sands China (1928.HK), MGM China (2282.HK), SJM Holdings (0880.HK), Galaxy Entertainment (0880.HK) and Melco Resorts - are all due to expire this year.

The move comes as investors fret over China's sweeping regulatory crackdown on industries ranging from education to technology and tighter scrutiny of casinos in recent years.

"This is a positive outcome and meaningfully reduces Macau license risk and license term risk for Macau operators," wrote J.P.Morgan analysts in a note, adding that this makes Macau investable for a wider swath of investors.

The government decided not to proceed with the proposal for a government official to directly supervise the casinos after feedback from the operators, a casino executive familiar with the legislation said.

Deutsche Bank researchers called the laying of the new framework "a decidedly favorable event...The reworked Gaming Law largely mirrors the public consultation findings from December, a positive in our view."

Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and Melco Resorts lost between 39% and 58% of their value over the past two years as the COVID-19 pandemic wrecked havoc on the travel sector.

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Reporting by Anisha Sircar, Medha Singh, and Kannaki Deka in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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