Hong Kong: Macau’s gambling revenue jumped 13.5 percent to a record $38 billion in 2012, official figures showed Wednesday, despite the pace of growth in the world’s largest gaming hub slowing from a year earlier.
Gaming revenue rose to 304.14 billion patacas from 267.87 billion patacas in 2011, according to statistics posted on the official Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau website.
But the pace of growth slowed from 2011, when revenues surged 42 percent year-on-year to $33.47 billion, as China’s economy slowed and affected the mainland Chinese high-rollers who flock to the gaming tables in Macau.
Despite that, analysts said Macau’s better-than-expected December gaming revenue — which rose 19.6 percent year-on-year to 28.24 billion patacas — suggested a rebound was in sight.
This compared to a 3.2 percent year-on-year growth in October and 7.9 percent in November
“The strong December (performance) represents a recovery in gaming revenue growth”, Aaron Fischer, head of consumer and gaming research at brokerage CLSA, told AFP.
Fischer said the brokerage had forecast revenue would continue grow at a moderate 9.0 percent in 2013.
“However, with initial signs of macro-economic recovery in China, infrastructure improvements and a more stable political environment, our current gaming revenue estimate might appear to be on the conservative side.”
The former Portuguese colony, the only part of China where casino gambling is legal, overtook Las Vegas as the world’s gaming capital in terms of revenue after the sector was opened up to foreign competition in 2002.
The boom stands in sharp contrast to US venues such as Las Vegas, previously a byword for gambling but which is now suffering the effects of the global downturn.
But the high growth has also caused the Chinese and Macau governments to express concern about the city’s gambling-dependent economy.
Six firms are licensed to operate casinos in Macau, which was handed back to Beijing in 1999, and they have transformed the Cotai Strip, a reclaimed swamp, into a glittering centre for gamblers.