Casino revenues increase 45.8pc to record 20.34b patacas

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 October, 2007, 12:00am

Macau casino revenues surged 45.8 per cent in the third quarter to a record 20.34 billion patacas after leaping 55 per cent last month following the opening of the US$2.4 billion Venetian casino resort, data released yesterday by the gaming regulator showed.

Revenue from high-stakes gaming continued to fuel the boom, with winnings from VIP baccarat jumping 50 per cent from a year earlier to 13.66 billion patacas and accounting for 67 per cent of all casino revenues in the territory, which last year overtook the Las Vegas Strip as the world's largest gaming market.

Supply drove demand but grew faster than revenue. There were 3,992 gaming tables in Macau at the end of last month, up 63.6 per cent from September last year. The number of slot machines more than doubled to 11,510 units from 5,165 a year ago, against a 64 per cent rise in slot revenue to 876 million patacas.

Macau's 58.31 billion patacas in casino winnings during the first nine months has already exceeded last year's full-year tally of 56.62 billion patacas, and analysts expect new resort openings to continue driving growth.

Following the Venetian, which opened on August 28 with 850 gaming tables and 3,400 slot machines, the US$1.1 billion MGM Grand Macau and the HK$3.1 billion Ponte 16 casino hotels are set to open in the next two months, bringing the number of casinos in the enclave to 29.

Gaming revenues rose 55 per cent to 7.15 billion patacas last month, the second-biggest month on record behind the 7.47 billion patacas haul during the holiday month of May.

The Venetian increased Las Vegas Sands Corp's share of the market to about 26 per cent last month from 16 per cent in August, JPMorgan analyst Billy Ng wrote in a research note.

Shares in United States-listed casino operators Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts have both risen more than 70 per cent since July 1 on investors' strong expectations for the Macau market.

Hong Kong-listed Macau plays continued to lag both their US counterparts and the Hang Seng Index, Mr Ng wrote.