Macau casino earnings rise 52pc

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 July, 2011, 12:00am


Macau casino revenue grew in June at its fastest pace this year, rising above the 20 billion pataca mark for a fourth month.

The city's 34 casinos booked gambling revenue of 20.79 billion patacas, up 52.4 per cent from a year ago and second only to the holiday month of May's record haul of 24.31 billion patacas, data released yesterday by the Macau Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau shows.

Casino revenue in the first half of the year was 124.13 billion patacas, up 44.6 per cent.

Macau is now on track to book more than US$30 billion in casino revenue this year.

The world's second-largest casino market, the Las Vegas Strip, is on course for about US$6 billion in revenue this year - and is running neck-and-neck with Singapore, whose two casinos only opened last year.

Macau's current winning streak is all the more remarkable given that it has continued despite Beijing's efforts to rein in liquidity on the mainland.

Mainland policymakers have raised interest rates four times since last October, and have raised the amount of cash that banks must keep on reserve nine times.

This has yet to affect Macau, despite the city's reliance on mainland gamblers and the sensitivity to liquidity trends of its gaming industry, where the credit-driven VIP segment accounts for around 70 per cent of all casino revenue.

That revenue continues to soar suggests that VIP junket agents - the middlemen who bring punters to casinos, issue them credit for gambling and collect debts - have managed to tap alternative sources of funding and investment to maintain and grow their capital base.

The more liquidity that flows through the junket system, the more credit agents are able to extend to players, in turn driving up casino winnings.

At the same time, the mid-May opening of the HK$15.5 billion, 2,200-room Galaxy Macau on Cotai probably helped drive visitation to the city.

Visitor arrivals to Macau rose 9.4 per cent in May and 7.2 per cent in the first five months of the year. Arrivals by mainlanders, which accounted for 57.8 per cent of total visitation in May, jumped 16.8 per cent from a year earlier. Of mainland visitors, 51 per cent came from neighbouring Guangdong province.

Shares in Macau casino operators have surged in line with the growth of the market, rising up to 90 per cent this year against a 2.8 per cent decline in the Hang Seng Index.