A scoop from Bloomberg Friday suggests that Beijing’s big plans for its tropical resort island of Hainan may now include legalized gambling.
Macau casino stocks were hit by the news, with Wynn Macau falling as much as 6.7% before recovering to close 0.2 percent lower. MGM China declined 1.5%, while Sands China fell by 1.4%.
The report, citing unnamed sources, said that government agencies under a party reform group headed by President Xi Jinping are considering allowing online gambling, a lottery or sports betting on the island.
Gambling is officially illegal in mainland China, though there are legal state-run forms of lottery, sports betting and scratch cards.
China has long sought to develop Hainan, sometimes referred to as the country’s version of Hawaii, into a premier international travel destination, as it focuses on tourism as part of its shift to a consumer-based economy. The government already has plans to relax visa rules for travel to the island and a new international airport is expected to open in 2020.