Another great month in Macau

Gambling mecca reports another stunning month, but not as good as May.

There’s apparently no stopping the gambling boom in Macau, an island off the Chinese coast renowned for gambling entertainment. The latest statistics from the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau reveal that compared with June last year, 2010 June revenues are up 65 percent to 13.6 billion patacas ($1.69 billion).

However, compared to May 2010 numbers, June saw revenues ease by some 20 percent.

Industry observers attributed the easing in June to massive betting – especially in VIP wagering - on the football World Cup, a temporary situation that will cease to be a factor mid-July. They pointed out that August is traditionally the summer travel season which should see a return to normal business levels in Macau.

Deutsche Bank analysts say that China’s economic growth, coupled with a lending surge, is fueling a boom in revenue for casinos in the only place in the country where they are legal. Junket operators, who bring high-limit gamblers to the city and lend them money, are benefiting from a “sudden increase” in credit, report the Bloomberg business news service.

CLSA Ltd.’s Macau Gaming Index has outperformed Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index by 40 percent this year, according to CLSA analyst Aaron Fischer. SJM Holdings Ltd., the casino operator with the biggest market share in Macau, has gained 54 percent this year while the stock benchmark has dropped 8 percent.

Bloombergs notes that Macau casino gambling revenues surged 57 percent in the first quarter to about 41 billion patacas as China’s economic growth accelerated to 11.9 percent, the fastest pace in almost three years.

This month’s number means 2010 Q2 revenue for casinos in the former Portuguese colony increased 77 percent to 44.9 billion patacas. The total for 2010 H1 rose 67 percent to 85.9 billion patacas.

Revenue growth from high rollers placing wagers at baccarat tables where the lowest bet per hand is 10,000 patacas was about 124 percent in May compared with 58 percent for “mass- market” bettors, Deutsche Bank said in a separate note. The bets at Macau’s “VIP tables” can go up to as much as 2 million patacas a hand.

VIP gamblers contribute about 70 percent of Macau’s gambling revenue, according to CLSA estimates.

Macau surpassed the Las Vegas Strip as the world’s biggest gambling hub in 2006. Bettors wagered a record 119 billion in Macau’s casinos last year, 9.7 percent higher than in 2008.

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