Macau, the tiny Chinese city, has once again broken its yearly record for earnings at casinos as last year’s revenues reached an incredible $45 billion, which further underlined its status as the biggest gambling market in the world.
Macau has close to three dozen different casinos and between them took in over $4.2 billion in just December, according to recent data supplied by the Gaming Inspection Bureau on Thursday. The bureau is the gambling regulator for the country. The December revenues brought the total for 2013 up to $45 billion, which was over 18% higher than in 2012.
One analyst in gaming research estimated the take in Macau would end up being seven times more than the amount that Las Vegas casinos earn.
Macau is a former Portuguese colony whose casino market at one time was lethargic at best, but has thrived since a gambling monopoly by the government was ended about 10 years ago letting in foreign casinos such as Wynn Resorts, Ltd. and Las Vegas Sands.
The competition that ensued has now transformed the tiny place into a powerhouse of gambling with glitzy new casinos centered on its Cotai Strip and marketed as the Asia version of the strip in Las Vegas.
In Macau, all six operators of casinos are sinking billions of dollars into megaprojects as a new round of expansion has started. Macau is just an hour’s ride on a high-speed ferry away from Hong Kong.
Casino revenues in Macau are the envy of many other markets throughout Asia that have searched for ways to replicate the success of the southern Chinese gambling Mecca.
There is an increasing amount of high roller, wealthy visitors from the mainland of China that have helped power the casino hub’s rise.
Revenue has overtaken that of the entire market inside the U.S., where last year the casinos in the U.S., which number over 12,000, earned only $37.3 billion. Over that same period, the Macau market, with its 35 casinos and a population of just over half a million, earned just over $38 billion.
Though the figures for the U.S. for this year are not available yet, the lead by Macau has certainly widened as growth in major casino markets in the U.S. have hit their plateau.