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Two beaten-down gambling stocks could be poised to rebound, traders say

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Casino stocks rally as Macau loosens restrictions, and these two names look best

Casino stocks are on a hot streak this week.

Las Vegas Sands, Wynn, Caesars, Penn National Gaming and MGM Resorts have all surged in recent days, getting a big boost Tuesday after gambling destination Macao eased restrictions for visitors from mainland China.

This group has been incredibly volatile over the past 18 months, hit hard by closures and then travel disruptions and uneven traffic during the coronavirus pandemic.

So, is Lady Luck finally on the casinos' side?

Quint Tatro, president of Joule Financial, says yes … for one stock.

"The easy play is Las Vegas Sands," Tatro told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Tuesday. "It was March of just this year we were on here speaking about their abrupt shift and their sale of all their Las Vegas properties to basically double down and focus on their Asia exposure. At the time, I think it was a big question mark."

The benefits of that strategy now make more sense to Tatro in light of China's reopening and Macao's rebound. Las Vegas Sands announced in the first quarter that it would sell its Vegas properties including its Venetian Resort for a total of $6.25 billion.

"It still has a difficult balance sheet, it's not the greatest balance sheet, but they do have $2 billion now in unrestricted cash that they can put where they see the best opportunity," said Tatro. "If this [rebound] is legit and we start to see a resurgence in the casino space, I think Las Vegas Sands is the play here."

Las Vegas Sands has tumbled 36% from a March high. It is down 28% for the year.

JC O'Hara, chief market technician at MKM Partners, said the downturn in the China-exposed casino names has him wary. Instead, he prefers DraftKings, a gambling stock that he says looks to have stabilized after its pullback.

"It is reestablishing itself in an uptrend, breaking back above the 150-day moving average. So rather than trying to bottom pick some of these names and make calls on economic data, let's look where the price action is positive and that's DraftKings," he said during the same interview.

O'Hara targets the March highs above $74 as a promising target price and sees a band of support at $50. DraftKings closed Tuesday at $56.47.

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