Macau casino revenue rose 57 per cent last month to a fresh monthly record of 24.77 billion patacas. It was the fastest growth this year, the sixth month in a row that Macau's casinos broke the 20-billion-pataca mark, and the third month since May that they raked in more than US$3 billion, new data from the Macao Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau show. The figures highlight the heady growth and ballooning size of the Macau market, compared to the United States market. The US had 438 commercial casinos (excluding tribal casinos) and 45 racetrack casinos that booked a total of US$34.6 billion in gambling revenue last year, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA). Macau, with only 34 casinos but a significant number of high-rolling mainland gamblers, is on pace to match that revenue figure this year. Macau's casino winnings in the first eight months of the year have risen 46.8 per cent to 173.11 billion patacas, just shy of last year's full-year total of 188.34 billion patacas. The US commercial casino industry had 340,564 employees last year and paid a total of US$13.3 billion in wages, benefits and tips, according to the AGA. It paid US$7.59 billion in direct gaming taxes. Macau, with a population of 558,000, had 47,321 staff working in its gaming industry at the end of June, according to Macau's Statistics and Census Service. They earned average wages and tips (not including benefits) of 16,460 patacas per month. That works out to a total of US$1.14 billion a year. If Macau does hit US$34 billion in casino revenue this year, as its current pace suggests, the local government will be much richer for it than its counterparts in the US. The direct gaming tax rate of 35 per cent in Macau would mean about US$12 billion in government revenue. Casino operators pay another 3 to 4 per cent of gaming revenue as indirect, effective taxes, which will add another US$1.3 billion or so to government coffers. So if Macau's casino industry manages to match the entire US commercial gaming industry in revenue, it will do so paying only 9 per cent of the wages but 175 per cent of the direct gaming taxes. Macau is already awash with money from the sector. Revenues totalled 60.3 billion patacas in the first seven months, compared with expenditures of 18.1 billion patacas, according to data from the Financial Services Bureau. Direct gaming taxes accounted for 85 per cent of government revenue. As a result of its swelling surpluses, the government was sitting on foreign exchange reserves of 190 billion patacas at the end of last year, equal to an auspicious 88 per cent of Macau's gross domestic product for the year. Macau's casino boom has grown increasingly reliant on VIP gambling junkets and their high-rolling customers. A record 74 per cent of gambling revenue came from the high-stakes VIP baccarat segment in the second quarter, more than at any time since regulators began releasing quarterly data in 2005. The growing reliance on the high-volume, low-margin VIP segment means the success of casino operators - and of the city itself - is increasingly susceptible to liquidity trends on the mainland, as most high rollers are brought in by junket agents and gamble on credit. At the same time, the rising prominence of the VIP segment increases regulatory risk for Macau's six licensed casino operators, as outsized growth of high-stakes revenue means they are growing even more dependent on the loosely regulated junket agents. Junkets are the middlemen who bring VIP players to casinos, issue them credit for gambling and collect their debts - often by resorting to extrajudicial measures in places like the mainland, where casino debt is not legally enforceable. In exchange for their services, and for shouldering credit risk, Macau's junket agents receive commissions from casino operators equal in some cases to more than 45 per cent of casino revenue.