* Growth of 31.7 pct edges out high end of estimates
* Golden Week holiday sees 10.7 pct increase in visitors
HONG KONG Nov 1 Gambling revenue in the
southern Chinese territory of Macau surged 31.7 percent to a
record high in October year-on-year, after a week-long national
holiday boosted visitation from big-spending mainland gamblers
keen to punt in the country's only legal casino hub.
October's revenue at 36.48 billion patacas ($4.6 billion)
was the highest monthly figure on record, according to
government data released on Friday. Analysts had forecast
October growth in the world's biggest gambling market, to be up
A former Portuguese colony, Macau is located a one-hour
ferry ride from the financial centre of Hong Kong. A special
administrative region like Hong Kong, Macau is one of the
world's fastest-growing economies due to its lucrative casino
China's Golden Week national holiday, which took place in
the first week of October, saw a 10.7 percent increase in
visitors from mainland China compared to a year earlier. Macau's
gambling revenues are highly dependent on the domestic market
with more than two-thirds of tourists coming from the mainland.
Visitor arrivals totalled 7.76 million for the third quarter of
The rise in revenues is largely attributed to the growth of
"mass-market" visitors made up of China's growing middle class
who are visiting Macau in greater numbers and spending more than
Macau's 35 casinos have typically relied on VIP "whale"
gamblers to support revenue growth, but a crackdown on
corruption by Beijing has seen the growth of VIP numbers fail to
match that of mass market, which is growing from a much lower
The six licensed casino operators, Sands China,
Wynn Macau, Melco Crown, Galaxy
Entertainment, MGM China are all targeting
the "premium mass" segment, made up of affluent gamblers who bet
anywhere from 10,000 yuan ($1,600) to under 1 million yuan. The
sector is more stable and provides higher profitability than VIP
The lack of hotel rooms in Macau is a key constraint in
terms of pushing revenue growth higher casino executives say.
While eight resorts are in the works along with additional
hotels, new capacity is unlikely to come online before the end
Hotels reported close to full occupancy for the holiday
period while local media said mainland visitors stayed at
campsites due to exorbitant room rates. The cheapest five-star
deluxe room on Macau's Las Vegas style Cotai strip was 5,888
patacas (US$737) per night.
Infrastructure developments in the coming years are expected
to help lift the number of visitors to Macau. Currently most
tourists come from Guangdong and other nearby provinces.
A bridge joining Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau is set to open
by 2016, while expanded intercity rail links will shorten the
time of travel from China's northern cities to the gambling
Plans are also in place to upgrade Macau's
capacity-constrained ferry terminals and international airport.