Gaming and betting revenues in Macau may reach US$6.87 billion in 2006

20 March 2006

Macau, China, 20 Mar – Gaming and betting revenues in Macau in 2006 are expected to total US$6.87 billion, a 15 percent increase from the US$5.97 billion earned in 2005, an official source told Macauhub.

In the first quarter of 2006, gross gaming revenues, which are taxed by the local government, are expected to total US$1.57 billion, or 15 percent more than the year on year period.

Direct and indirect taxes on the gaming sector imposed by the Macau government are forecast to total over US$2.61 billion, or 80 percent of the total budget predicted to be US$3.3 billion, the source said.

There are currently 19 casinos operating in Macau and by the end of the year that number is expected to increase by five.

Today’s figures were unthinkable in 2002 when the gaming sector was liberalized in the Special Administrative Region of China.

Following the implementation of individual visas for travel between mainland China and Macau and Hong Kong, the number of visitors to Macau totaled 18.7 million in 2005, which boosted gross gaming revenues, and indicating the importance of the Chinese market to the growth of Macau’s gaming industry.

Hong Kong group Galaxy has said that in 2006 it will open the Grand Waldo, Star World and Presidente casinos while Steve Wynn, of Las Vegas, is scheduled to open its first hotel/casino on September 5 and local businessman David Chow is preparing to open the Babilónia casino.

With less than a tenth of the number of casinos in Las Vegas, Macau’s casinos are far more profitable than US casinos and several analysts have said Macau has not much further to go to overtake Vegas in terms of annual revenue.

The interest in Macau, which is increased because it is the only city in China in which gambling is legal, has led to heavy investment in the hotel, services and gaming industries that are estimated to total U$30 billion and has guaranteed the quality of international hotel chains such as Hilton, Conrad, Four Seasons, Sofitel, Intercontinenal, St. Regis, Shangri-La, Mandarin, Sheraton, Starwood and Australia’s Crown all of which have already announced agreements to run hotels in Macau.

Macau’s casino market is dominated by local company Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM), owned by gaming magnate Stanley Ho, who owns 16 of the 19 casinos in operation.

The market also includes Galaxy, which applied for a concession in association with US company Venetian, the operator which broke Ho’s monopoly when it opened the Sands casino.

Venetian is also building a casino and entertainment center in the landfill area between the islands of Taipa and Coloane.

Wynn Resorts, another of the concession-holders, is due to open its first hotel/casino on September 5 and recently sealed a deal with Australia’s PBL, which is in partnership with Melco now controlled by Stanley Ho’s son, Lawrence.

PBL in partnership with Melco acquired from Wynn Resorts for US$900 million, one of its sub-concessions to build a hotel and casino.

The PBL/Melco consortium is expected to open its first hotel/casino, called Crown Macau, in 2007 and has several projects in line for the landfill areas between Taipa and Coloane, where a new gaming center is emerging.

US company MGM Mirage, which is in a joint venture with Pansy Ho – daughter of Stanley Ho – is building a hotel/casino in the center of the city which will operate under a sub-concession of the license owned by Sociedade de Jogos de Macau from the end of 2007. (macauhub)