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article imageMacao's casinos see record growth in 2012

By Paris Franz     Feb 8, 2013 in Business
Macao - After a record-breaking 2012, Macao's winning streak looks set to continue as the city's burgeoning casino resorts fill up for the Chinese New Year holiday.
Bloomberg reports that Macao, the former Portuguese colony which returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1999, saw its casino revenue climb 14 percent to a record 304 billion patacas ($38 billion) in 2012. The upward trend looks likely to continue as seventeen major casino hotels report they are fully booked for the week-long holiday to celebrate the Chinese New Year, traditionally a peak time for travel in China.
Melco Crown Chairman Lawrence Ho told Bloomberg Macao would be “jam packed” over the holiday.
Macao is the world’s largest gambling hub, and is busy adding room capacity to satisfy a growing demand, which is boosting revenue for casino operators. The Financial Times reports that one such operator, Sands China, owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, saw a 52 percent increase in fourth-quarter net profit. In addition to the 9,210 hotel rooms in already has in Macao, Sands China plans to invest at least $2.5 billion to build its fifth integrated resort, the Parisian, which is scheduled to begin construction in the second quarter of this year. It will have a replica of the Eiffel Tower, 3,000 hotel rooms and a variety of family-oriented facilities to attract middle-class gamblers from China.
“Growth in Macao is supply-driven,” Lantis Li of Hong Kong’s Capital Securities Corp told Bloomberg. “As long as we have more hotel rooms to support the increase in the number of travelers, the grown can be sustainable.”
According to the Financial Times, the number of gaming tables in Macao is expected to increase by three percent annually over the next few years.
Yet, despite the impressive numbers, Reuters reports that stocks in Macao's casinos have fallen on news that Beijing, alarmed by the amount of money leaving China, plans to crack down on junket operators that bring in Chinese high-rollers, arrange credit and collect debts. If so, it won't be the first time. The Washington Post reported on the effect that visa restrictions had on Macao back in 2008.
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