September 1, 2006 in Entertainment

Gambling in Macau

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For all you gambling fanatics out there looking for a new destination beyond Las Vegas, Macao considered by some to be the Monte Carlo of the Orient, is seen to be the next IT place for gamblers.

Macao poised to outshine Las Vegas
Financial Times, By Tom Mitchell in Hong Kong
Published: August 30 2006 19:02 | Last updated: August 30 2006 19:02
Macao is poised to eclipse the Las Vegas strip as the world’s biggest gambling market as early as the second half of this year, driven by a flurry of new casino openings in China’s former Portuguese enclave.
Gross gaming revenues in Macao reached $3.1bn in the first half of 2006, according to the territory’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
However, Clark County, which includes the greater Las Vegas area, will maintain its lead over Macao for the foreseeable future.
“It’s very likely that Macao will overtake the strip as the world’s biggest casino market,” said Gabriel Chan, a Hong Kong-based analyst with Credit Suisse, citing three forthcoming casino openings.
Macao has threatened to surpass Las Vegas before. It was neck-and-neck with the strip at the end of 2004, but Las Vegas saw off the challenge, helped in part by a dearth of new openings in Macao the following year.
Over the next 12 months, however, as many as six new developments with more than 2,000 tables are due to open in Macao. The last time there were major new openings, in 2004, gaming revenues surged by almost 45 per cent year-on-year.
Macao is closing the gap on Las Vegas despite hosting far fewer visitors than its US rival, highlighting the fact that Chinese gamblers make bigger bets.

According to data compiled by Grant Chum, an analyst with UBS, 18.7m people visited Macao last year, against 38.6m for Las Vegas, but the average daily take at Macao’s tables was $12,000, compared to $2,600 in Las Vegas.
At a briefing, Mr Chum noted that the average daily take from each table table winat Macao’s tables was $12,000, compared to $2,600 in Las Vegas.
On September 6 Steve Wynn, the casino developer, will open his first project in the territory – the $1.2bn, 200-table Wynn Macao. Last week the Sands Macao, controlled by Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands group and already the world’s biggest casino, increased capacity by 50 per cent to 740 tables.Next year the Sands opens its massive $2.3bn Venetian Macao gaming resort, with 700 tables and 3,000 suites.
“Wynn and the other projects coming on line will grow the market – no question about it,” said Peter Caveny, director of investor relations at Galaxy Entertainment, which next month will inaugurate a new 300-table casino next to Mr Wynn’s.
The investment fever in Macao has set the stage for an epic clash between global gaming moguls led by Mr Wynn, Mr Adelson and Stanley Ho, the tycoon who monopolised Macao’s gaming industry for 40 years until its liberalisation in 2002, after the self-governing territory returned to Chinese sovereignty.
In the latest exchange, Mr Ho suggested that the Macao government had favoured his US rivals. Mr Adelson and senior Sands executives retorted that the competition was just beginning.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006

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