Slot machines may not be as popular as the gaming tables, but they are flooding Macau's casinos. With a reputation of being cheaper to play and lasting longer, machine numbers have skyrocketed from 800 to almost 12,000 in the past four years. A spokesman for Wynn Macau said the casino had 671 slot machines, compared to 280 tables. He said slot machines were popular with people who preferred a more individual experience, rather than those who liked the atmosphere of tables that involved a dealer and other players. Bets on machines ranged from 50 HK cents per game to HK$25,000. 'Slot machines are popular the world over because of the entertainment value they bring to the gaming experience,' he said. 'This is especially true with the most recent technology, which involves secondary features, bonuses and the ability to win jackpots that can make a lucky person an instant millionaire.' Wynn Macau took US$387.1 million in slot machine revenue in the year's third quarter, which equates to US$457 per machine each day. This compares to VIP gaming tables with a turnover of US$9.8 billion and mass market tables at US$475.4 million for the quarter. Wynn Macau has in-house technicians to service the machines and relies on the manufacturers in the event of a major problem. The Wynn spokesman said there was no doubt that slot machines were a growing source of revenue. Ken Jolly, Asia-Pacific general manager of Aristocrat Technologies, an Australian supplier of slot machines and gaming systems, said in the past four years slot machine income in Macau had grown from 2 per cent of the city's total gaming revenue to 4 per cent. Aristocrat staff in Macau have grown from one part-time person in 2003 to 28 now and the company provides more than 50 per cent of the city's slot machines. Mr Jolly said he expected to employ more staff in the next six months. He said despite Macau's labour shortage, manufacturers were in a good position to recruit employees. The Australian slot machine supplier has in-house training programmes and offers cadet training. 'I think most people think there is more stability working for a manufacturer, we offer training programmes and have a global network if people want to move around,' he said. 'Most people look at these things and would prefer to work with us rather than in a casino.' International Game Technology Asia's managing director John Gomes said as more casinos opened in Macau and competition for customers intensified, there was more emphasis being placed on having a variety of electronic games and novelty products. Mr Gomes' company set up in Macau almost three years ago and supplies a range of gaming equipment, including slot machines. He described slot machines as the 'more efficient' side of the gaming industry and said there was no doubt they would grow in popularity in Macau. 'It is a balancing act between the tables and electronic machines, but we have seen the machines grow in popularity over the past few years and I think that will continue,' Mr Gomes said. 'The challenge is to try to catch customer attention when there is so much on offer.' According to figures from Macau's Statistics and Census Service there were 24,000 job vacancies in Macau at the end of June. The labour shortage problem saw the average monthly wage in the gaming sector jump 15 per cent in the year to July to 14,491 patacas. Mr Gomes said the cost associated with staffing gaming tables made slot machines more attractive to some operators. 'We all know that there are challenges finding dealers and if this continues electronic machines will play a bigger role as they are more efficient,' he said. 'Each operator makes decisions looking at their revenue and overheads, and in the end it does become a question of efficiency.' Mr Jolly said there was no doubt slot machine numbers would continue to increase in Macau. 'Traditionally this has been a market that has promoted gaming tables and some of those games are culturally suitable,' he said. 'But slot machines are growing and they are becoming far more recognised and accepted in this market than they were several years ago.'