Local Macau casino stocks soared yesterday, tracking a surge in Las Vegas Sands Corp's shares and apparently fuelled by speculation that Beijing would relax a six-month-long crackdown on mainlanders' visits to the gaming enclave. Galaxy Entertainment Group led the pack with a gain of 40.24 per cent, or 33 HK cents, to close at a two-month high of HK$1.15 per share. SJM Holdings rose 27.89 per cent, Melco International Development 25.25 per cent and Shun Tak Holdings 17.65 per cent. The gains added to Wednesday's 20 per cent surge in New York-traded shares of Las Vegas Sands, which closed at a five-week high of US$7.50 apiece. 'Investors appear to be betting Beijing's stance on visitation policy will shift from restrictive to supportive and that a change could happen soon,' said a gaming analyst. The chief executives of Hong Kong and Macau were both in Beijing on duty visits yesterday. Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has said he would use the occasion to lobby for an expansion of the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) for mainland residents travelling to Hong Kong. Since June 1, Beijing has restricted IVS travel to Macau, cutting the frequency with which mainlanders can travel to the gaming city from once a fortnight to once every three months. In addition, since September 1, mainland travellers to Hong Kong under the IVS programme have been required to secure a separate permit to visit Macau. The crackdown has partly contributed to Macau's first dip in monthly casino revenue in over two years. Gaming revenue suffered single-digit decreases in both September and October before recovering slightly to expand 2.6 per cent last month. The losing streak marked a dramatic departure from 51.6 per cent revenue growth in the first eight months of the year. The IVS restrictions, a credit crunch among VIP gambling junket operators and the generally deteriorating economy have contributed to a sharp sell-off in Macau plays. Even after yesterday's rally, shares in the territory's six licensed casino operators are down 57 to 93 per cent from the beginning of this year.