Hong Kong investors will be able to take a punt on casino operators and bookmakers after gaming companies were given the approval to apply for a listing on the stock market. A new Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx) guideline removes a ban on listed companies having gambling as their core business, as long as their operations are legal under the amended Gambling Ordinance. The gambling activities must take place outside Hong Kong and comply with the laws where the companies operate. The guideline will also allow listed companies to take a stake in gambling businesses. Brokers support the changes, predicting Macau's three casino operators were likely to be the first listed in Hong Kong. 'There are many casinos listed in the United States. The new guideline will help Hong Kong follow the same path to attract big gambling operators, including Mr Stanley Ho's casino and other Macau operators,' said Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, the chairman of Christfund Securities. Mr Ho's casino business, believed to worth about HK$24 billion, lost its monopoly in Macau after licences were granted to US operators Wynn Resorts and Galaxy Casino. 'If Hong Kong continued to ban gambling operators from listing, they would go to other markets. The new guideline will enhance the competitiveness of the local market,' Mr Cheung said. HKEx is facing keen competition from other exchanges. It is expected to announce today that its profit last year fell by as much as 32 per cent. The guideline said gambling companies would have to follow tougher disclosure requirements than other firms to ensure transparency of their activities and associated risks. They would have to disclose the types of gambling activities involved, the regulatory or licensing requirements, and the specific risks in relation to the operation of such activities.