Macau rising

On Saturday, I’m flying to Macau to speak at the Gaming Industry and Public Welfare International Conference. If I go back next year, I might be able to say that I’m going to the world’s leading gaming destination.

From the Financial Times:

Macao’s gambling revenues will surpass those of Las Vegas next year, according to an industry executive, underlining the former Portuguese colony’s swift emergence as a global gaming hub.

Revenues in Macao’s 12 casinos were reported by local gaming houses to be $3.6bn last year and are rising quickly, jumping 38 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter, the Macao government says.

The Las Vegas Strip meanwhile took in about $4.8bn in gambling revenues in 2003, according to the Nevada gaming control board.

Grant Bowie, president and general manager of Wynn Resorts in Macao, said: “Macao will exceed Las Vegas Strip revenues next year.

“That’s despite the fact that Las Vegas is having a good year.”

Macao, which returned to mainland rule in 1999, is the only place in China where gambling is permitted. In 2001, the city ended the 40-year monopoly on gambling of Stanley Ho, a local tycoon and opened the licence to international tender.

A frenzy of investment followed, which looks set to transform a sleepy enclave of nearly 500,000 people into one of Asia’s leading gambling resorts.

Sheldon Adelson, head of the Las Vegas Sands group, opened its first casino in May, the $240m Sands Macau, and is planning another resort.

MGM Mirage will open a hotel and casino through a joint venture in 2006. Wynn Resorts is also building a resort.

Kerry Packer, Australia’s richest man, last month announced plans to invest $163m in a joint venture with Mr Ho’s Melco International.

Macao’s gambling revenues set to overtake Vegas

I’m expecting to learn a lot on this trip. I’m giving a paper on historical parallels between Monte Carlo, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Macau. Should be quite a hoot.

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