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Many casinos are having a banner year so far, and are spreading their special brand of cheer far and wide. Major resort companies are unwrapping new, shiny casinos and promoting plans to build new ones in the Asian gambling destination of Macau faster than a croupier's deck shuffle.

One of those lucky casino operators is Wynn Resorts (NYSE: WYNN  ) , which very recently got the green light from Macau officials to break ground on its newest development, a $3 billion gambling resort on 51 acres in Cotai. This has given others in the industry reason to hope, particularly since the Chinese-owned resort area had been reluctant to hand out approvals for new casinos for the past few years.

Cotai, the gaming capital of the world
Now that the floodgates are open, other operators are rushing to expand their holdings in Macau, particularly in Cotai. MGM Resorts (NYSE: MGM  ) just recently announced its firm belief that the government there will approve its building plans as well, which sport a $2.5 billion price tag.

While both Wynn and MGM have casinos in Macau, Melco Crown Entertainment (NYSE: MPEL  ) and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS  ) have working casinos in Cotai, the bulked-up swampland that connects two islands off Macau. The Sands Cotai Central, which just debuted a few weeks ago, marks Las Vegas Sands' third casino in that area, while Melco, whose entire gaming focus is on Macau, is currently developing its Studio City Project, which is expected to include a casino. The company also owns City of Dreams, which stands opposite to the Sands' Venetian Macau.

Macau trumps Las Vegas for the title of casino capital of the world, though the area was opened up to competition only 10 years ago. The stakes are huge, and last year alone gambling revenues are said to have been nearly $34 billion, five times what Las Vegas pulls in each year. Better yet, revenues have risen by 26% since the beginning of this year.

Fool's take
Casino operators have had an explosive year so far, and it looks as if this is just the beginning. All of the companies mentioned are actively planning and building, and Las Vegas Sands is looking beyond Macau to opening a Las Vegas-style development in Spain, which CEO Sheldon Adelson characterized as a 5-to-10-year, $35 billion investment. Meanwhile, the company recently turned in numbers that showed a 31% revenue increase and a doubling of its net income.

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Fool contributor Amanda Alix owns no shares in the companies mentioned above.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 07, 2012, at 11:13 AM, JF125780 wrote:

    Excellent article Amanda, keep up the good work.

    Danny Kowkabany

  • Report this Comment On May 07, 2012, at 11:28 AM, cp757 wrote:

    Amanda this is not the normal Motley Fool article about Macau. Very balanced, all and all. We usually read how high the cap cost is on LVS or how much money Wynn will make from the casino on Cotai that won't be up until 2016 or 2017. I find two things interesting . First you don't have a link to this story on Yahoo's LVS page. Second you don't mention that the " bulked-up swampland" was Sheldon Adelsons idea and everyone told him he could not make money on the deal even Steve Wynn. I think that " bulked-up swampland" will do just fine going forward. Las Vegas Sands owns most of the strip and still has 3,600 room to add on Lot 3 . Las Vegas Sands has construction started and stopped on lot 7 and 8 that the government could approve any time in the next three years. That " bulked-up swampland" has the Iconic Venetian Macao Resort that is a world destination resort that had 200,000 visitors on opening day for " The Sands Cotai Central, which just debuted a few weeks ago".

  • Report this Comment On May 07, 2012, at 2:28 PM, spokanimal wrote:

    Contrary to your comment, Studio City is not licensed to include a casino and the government has re-iterated that fact several times since Melco bought it's stake in the project.

    Melco still feels confident that they'll be allowed to have a casino there...

    ... just like Sands was confident that the macau government would honor it's verbal commitment to Sands to build a resort on parcels 7 and 8...

    ... assumption... is the mother of all screw-ups... particularly in macau.


  • Report this Comment On May 07, 2012, at 2:36 PM, cp757 wrote:

    Amanda they put the link on the LVS page so all is right with the world. The number of Chinese tourist to Macau was 16.2 million in 2011. Spain had 57 million tourist's. If you add Spain, France, and Italy you get 171 million. Its a great place for Adelson to build an Integrated Resort but he will be the only one in that game with 12 Integrated Resorts. He gets 4 billion dollars in land for free just to build the resort. In Macau and Singapore the work force was hard to come by. He wont have that problem in Spain. The land in Macau and Singapore was " bulked-up swampland" but in Spain they will have no problem with the land. Its just a great deal with a built in transportation system ( second larges high speed trains in the world ) as well as the 4th largest Cruise Ship port in the world. Madrid may get the 2010 Olympics so that would give Las Vegas Sands even more traffic. Thats to far off to think about. Adelson could open up in 2015 or 2016 in Spain. We will see,

  • Report this Comment On May 07, 2012, at 2:39 PM, cp757 wrote:

    Amanda it should have said 2020 Olympics. Sorry I missed that.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2012, at 6:53 AM, raman2572 wrote:

    Very informative.

    However I feel that Real Estate Investing ( rental properties), with proper knowledge is still the best vehicle for retirement and worrying free investment

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