Macau gambling revenue jumps 21 per cent from year earlier
Reuters in Hong Kong
Gambling revenue in Macau jumped 21.3 per cent year on year last month after events including an international boxing match and the annual Grand Prix motor race led to an increase in high-spending visitors.
China’s only legal casino hub is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies thanks to the gambling industry, earning most of its income from visitors from nearby provinces such as Guangdong.
Revenue came in at the high end of analyst estimates, reaching 30.18 billion patacas – the fourth highest this year – according to government data released on Monday. Analysts had forecast median growth of 20 per cent.
Casinos welcomed visitors attracted to Macau by Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao fighting at US billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian Macao resort and the annual street circuit race held over two weekends.
Macau, home to 35 casinos with eight more in the works, is under pressure from the central government in Beijing to rely less on gambling and diversify into other types of leisure and tourism business.
As a result, casino operators Sands China, Melco Crown Entertainment, Galaxy Entertainment, MGM China, SJM Holdings and Wynn Macau are starting to increase non-gaming amenities, such as Melco’s House of Dancing Water show and Galaxy’s film theatre.
The former Portuguese colony may see growth constrained in the short term as it runs out of hotel rooms, with new hotels unlikely to open before the end of next year.
Growth is likely to spurt again when a bridge opens by 2016 joining Macau with Hong Kong and the city of Zhuhai.
Casinos will also benefit from new rail links shortening travel times to China’s northern cities, as well as from the planned expansion of ferry terminals and the international airport.