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The good news: Beijing is letting significantly more tourist groups visit Macau. The bad news: they may not be gambling much.

My guys on the ground in Macau are reporting that the number of tourist groups visiting from mainland China is double what it was before the new visa restrictions were enacted. It looks like Beijing is making an effort to support the Macau economy. Unfortunately, the effort is unlikely to help the mass market casino floors much given the limited time allowed the groups in Macau.

Considering the likely demographics and economics of these visitor groups, Beijing is not exactly providing a significant shot in the arm of the casinos. If this were its intention, they would’ve just loosened the individual visa restrictions.

Beijing seems unwilling now to repair the damage created by 3 rounds of visa restrictions and is instead targeting essentially non-casino parts of the economy. Unless business levels deteriorate significantly from here, we may not see any loosening until the new Chief Executive takes over late next year.

The near term is certainly frustrating, as it is for virtually every other casino market. At least Macau still attracts excess demand. I can’t say that for any other market in the world.