Macau casino revenue again set a record last month, soaring 42.3 per cent from a year earlier to 26.8 billion patacas (HK$25.5 billion). Any signs of a looming economic slowdown failed to dent turnover on the high-stakes baccarat tables, as the city's gambling volumes enjoyed their usual surge over the mainland's National Day 'golden week' holiday. The October haul marked Macau's sixth new monthly record in the past nine months, beating the most recent record set in August by 8.4 per cent. At US$3.3 billion, casino revenue last month was almost as much as the city's full year total in 2003 - and surpassed the US$3 billion taken on the Las Vegas Strip in the first six months of this year. October revenue was 'a pretty strong number, slightly better than expected', Macquarie Securities' head of Asian consumer and gaming research Gary Pinge said. Macau's 34 casinos booked 221.2 billion patacas in revenue in the first 10 months of the year, up 45.4 per cent from a year ago. 'We expect a strong finish to the year with gaming revenue approaching 270 billion patacas,' Union Gaming Research Macau analyst Grant Govertsen wrote yesterday in a research note. He forecasts next year's gross casino revenue to grow a minimum of 20 per cent, to about 324 billion patacas. A breakdown of table-games revenue market share by operator showed SJM Holdings continued to lead the pack, but slipping to 26 per cent share last month from 29 per cent in September, according to Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Karen Tang. Galaxy Entertainment's market share rose to 22 per cent (20 per cent in September), Tang wrote in a research note. Market share last month for the remaining operators was as follows: Melco Crown Entertainment (15 per cent), Sands China (14 per cent), Wynn Macau (13 per cent) and MGM China (11 per cent), according to Tang. The numbers are rounded and do not add to 100. Analysts said Macau's winning streak continued to be fuelled by ample liquidity among the VIP junket agents who brought high-rollers to casinos, issued them credit and collected their debts. Anecdotal evidence suggests junkets have seen an influx of investment from the mainland this year, even as Beijing has tightened the reins on the official banking system via interest rate rises and lifting the amount of cash that lenders must keep on reserve. However, given the signs of an economic slowdown on the horizon, the balance could shift quickly if investors start pulling their funds out of junkets, where they receive a monthly return on investment comparable to mainland grey-market rates.'If we see a slowdown in Macau it will be because junkets are pulling back liquidity,' Pinge said. 'Looser monetary policy and easing inflation will make mainland property and stock markets look like more attractive investments again, and investors will start to switch funds out of alternative investments such as junkets.'