Growth Finally Stalls in Macau
The booming growth in gambling in Macau seems to have finally stalled.
Macau's most recent figures for July show gambling revenue growth of just 1.5 percent, the lowest mark since the global recession of 2009. In 2011 gambling revenues in Macau grew a whopping 42 percent to $33.5 billion.
Macau has long since passed Las Vegas as the world's top gambling destination by revenues; in 2011 Macau's total revenues were more than five times what the Las Vegas Strip pulled in.
Much of Macau's growth has come from high rollers, with most of them picking baccarat as their game of choice. Action at the high roller baccarat tables accounts for about 75% of gambling revenues, far more than in Vegas and other areas.
That strength has become Macau's weakness in recent months, with credit for gambling junket operators in mainland China drying up and fewer high rollers making the trip to Macau.
Typhoon Vicente also disrupted gambling action in July, with ferry services halted at times between Hong Kong and Macau. Macau is the only area in China where gambling is legal, with the first casinos opening there in 2002.
Analysts had predicted growth to slow in Macau but many have been surprised by the rapid slowdown, with some trimming their growth forecasts for 2012 all the way down to just 5-10 percent.
The Chinese government has been less than thrilled at the success story of gambling in Macau, with some officials feeling that it gives an unsavory impression of the country's love of gambling.
Despite government attempts to curb it, billions of dollars continue to flow into Macau each month, with demand remaining strong for baccarat and slots as well as other casino standards such as poker, blackjack, and craps.
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