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December 10, 2016

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Macau says no curb on cash amount withdrawal

MACAU moved yesterday to clarify it has not tightened daily cash withdrawal limits for Chinese mainland gamblers, after fears of a crackdown on illicit money outflows sent shares in casino operators tumbling.

The South China Morning Post, citing a finance industry source, reported late on Thursday that the Monetary Authority of Macau would halve the amount of cash that China UnionPay card holders can withdraw from automated teller machines in the city.

The newspaper said this would mean halving the daily cap for clients of China’s largest provider of bank cards to 5,000 patacas (US$626).

The Macau authority, however, said it limited withdrawals to 5,000 patacas per transaction, effective yesterday, but did not change its daily limit.

UnionPay’s international arm also said it has not changed its policy on overseas cash withdrawals using cards issued on the mainland, adding that the daily limit was still 10,000 yuan (US$1,450), with an annual cap of 100,000 yuan.

ATM withdrawals are not a major source of cash for most mainland gamblers, especially its high rollers. Many average players use UnionPay to buy goods, then return them to get a cash refund which they use to gamble.

But the reported change was seen as a signal of concern, alarming investors in a sector still recovering from a long-running anti-corruption campaign. Monthly revenues from Macau have only returned to growth since August, helped by new resorts bringing in casual gamblers.

Shares of gaming groups including Melco Crown Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands Corp and Wynn Resorts fell by more than 10 percent as the crackdown concerns swirled.


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