There doesn't seem to be any end in sight to the growth of gambling in Macau. The possibilities seem almost too big to fathom. Are we headed for $10 billion per month or even $20 billion per month?
In February, gaming revenue jumped 47.7% to $2.5 billion, faster than the 33.2% growth in January. That may be a little slower than 2010, but that's still an incredible number for growth in gambling. To put last month and 2010 growth in perspective, there were only four months in 2010 when growth was lower than 47.7%. But I'll take 47.7% growth any day.
The great thing for casino operators now is that casino construction is slowing but gambling revenues are still rising rapidly. That means more profits in the pockets of investors and may give operators the ability to pay down debt.
Fighting harder for a bigger pie
It's also interesting to see an apparently intensified fight for gaming dollars in Macau. Wynn Resorts (Nasdaq: WYNN ) said recently that competitors were increasing their incentives to junket operators in order to attract VIP customers. Normally I would think that revenue rising faster than competition would lead to less of a fight for customers, but in Macau, VIPs and junkets rule the world and casinos want as many VIPs as possible.
If Wynn is right, that's a mixed signal for competitors. Melco Crown (Nasdaq: MPEL ) , Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS ) , and MGM Resorts (NYSE: MGM ) may be in for higher revenue but may have to trade down to otherwise lower margins as a result. We'll see how it shakes out after first-quarter results, but unless incentives get way out of hand, this looks like another blowout quarter across the board.
Macau or Singapore? That is the question
The growth numbers in Macau bring up an interesting battle emerging to see who will grow faster: Macau or Singapore? Earlier this year, CLSA increased Macau revenue growth expectations to 30%, and some experts are expecting 25% growth in Singapore. Macau is off to a great start, but the comparisons get a lot tougher as the year goes on, so Singapore may have a chance in this fight. Which city's gambling revenue will grow faster in 2011?
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