Lunar New Year typically marks a soft month for casinos in Macau. But this time around the god of fortune appears to have smiled on gaming moguls like Stanley Ho Hung-sun, Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn. The red envelopes were fatter than expected as casino revenue soared 69.4 per cent year-on-year last month to 13.4 billion patacas, according to preliminary data cited by analysts yesterday. The figure represents the territory's second-biggest monthly tally yet, just behind January's 14 billion patacas. 'Kung Hei Fat Choi - we believe Macau had an amazing Chinese New Year Golden Week,' Citigroup analyst Anil Daswani wrote yesterday in a research report. He estimates casinos saw unprecedented revenue of around 700 million patacas a day in the latter part of the month, more than double last year's average of 327 million patacas. Last month's figures suggest Macau casinos are continuing to build on a red-hot winning streak that began in the second half of last year, as a flood of liquidity on the mainland has translated into booming volumes on the high-stakes baccarat tables. Casinos revenue surged to 74.5 billion patacas in the past six months, up 56 per cent from recession-impacted levels a year earlier. Still, shares in gaming firms have been skittish in recent weeks and have failed to reflect the Macau market's expansion, as concerns rise over Beijing's actions to sop up liquidity and curtail bank lending on the mainland. 'The very sharp improvement in gaming revenues is leading to negative feedback loops as the stock market begins to fret over whether the Chinese clampdown on loan growth will temper Macau tourist spending,' Nomura strategist Sean Darby wrote in a research note on Monday. Darby points to a number of 'contrarian leading indicators' that actually seem to be weighing on share prices: rising VIP baccarat revenue, growing sales of luxury watches and jewellery and expanding domestic liquidity in Macau all appear to be counterintuitive causes for concern among edgy investors, with baccarat 'perceived to be heavily influenced by mainland players with access to the cheap mainland credit'. In terms of revenue trends, February's haul is exceptional. Lunar New Year typically brings a revenue surge in the mass market - the relative low-rollers who play with their own cash - but marks a seasonal soft point in the more dominant VIP market, which accounts for nearly 70 per cent of all casino revenue and relies more heavily on credit-driven play. Chinese high-rollers tend to either stay home with their families during the holiday or take advantage of the long break to try their luck in Las Vegas. The numbers bear this out. Depending on the year, Lunar New Year falls in January or February. An analysis of Macau casino revenue data for the past five years shows that for the month in which the holiday occurs, casino revenue increased on average by 13.19 per cent over and above the simple average of monthly revenues during the preceding 12 months. But for the non-holiday month, the average growth rate nearly doubled, to 25.12 per cent. Last month's haul surprised even the more bullish among Macau watchers. CLSA Asia-Pacific gaming analyst Aaron Fischer expected growth of 30-40 per cent, not 70 per cent, but sees nothing on the horizon to trigger a regulatory backlash. 'There is currently no talk of cooling measures as there are no social issues in Macau - such as the rising rents that we saw in 2007,' Fischer wrote yesterday in a research note. 'The southern China economy is doing well with strong employment and rising incomes and little pressure from the [central] government.'