HONG KONG, March 3 China's gambling hub Macau
raked in a record $4.8 billion in gaming revenues for the month
of February, far above analyst expectations, with strong
spending from wealthy punters during and after a week-long
Gambling revenue growth in Macau, a special administrative
region that is the only place in China where casinos are
allowed, soared 40 percent to 38 billion patacas ($4.75
billion), far ahead of analyst estimates of growth between 29-35
A Portuguese colony until 1999, Macau earns the equivalent
of Las Vegas's annual haul in less than two months. February's
$4.8 billion figure compares to Singapore's 2013 annual haul of
$6 billion and Las Vegas's $6.5 billion.
While 2013 saw rapid gambling revenue growth, analysts have
relatively tempered expectations for the coming year due to
macro economic uncertainties in China and the potential for
slower credit growth, which could impact the high-roller VIP
February's record comes after muted growth in January when
revenues came in at 28.7 billion patacas with Chinese punters
putting off their trips until the holiday period.
Growth of the VIP segment, mainly consisting of mainland
gamblers who spend more than 1 million yuan ($162,700) per bet,
is expected to slow to around 5-10 percent annually due to
higher penetration of China's growing middle class, referred to
by casino operators as "mass market visitors".
Analysts estimate mass market growth is likely to range
between 25-30 percent this year.
While no new casinos are set to open in Macau this year, the
city will see the opening of eight new resorts over the next
Low penetration and improving infrastructure developments
that will shorten the journey from the mainland to Macau,
located on China's southern coast, are likely to continue to
drive visitation and further demand for gambling, analysts say.
Macau's expansion comes as rival gaming destinations from
the Philippines to Russia set up casino resorts to lure wealthy
Local Macau authorities and top officials in Beijing are
pushing to diversify Macau from its reliance on gaming by
expanding entertainment, retail and convention facilities. The
moves are intended to attract a wider visitor base who come to
Macau for leisure and tourism rather than gambling.