The Chinese Vegas -- Macau -- has been an unbelievable boon to casino operators Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS), among others. While the U.S. gambling market slowed down dramatically for some time (regional shops are still hurting), the Asian gambling mecca kept numbers not just healthy for the companies but soaring. Now that we have proof of what a cash cow the region is for gambling businesses, it's tantalizing to think of another market opening up. Luckily for investors, a new Macau could be up and running by 2019. Here's what investors need to know.
Industry consulting firm Union Gaming Advisors puts Macau's gambling revenue at $40 billion to $45 billion for 2013. As various Asian economies continue to grow at attractive rates, along with their citizens' income, the gaming market is likely to remain robust for the foreseeable future.
Matsu -- an island controlled by Taiwan -- is looking to open up another gambling hub in the region. A location that CNBC reports is a fantastic island for bird-watching, Matsu is a sleepy, remote tourist destination that is about to wake up in a big way.
Last year, the island's 10,000 residents voted to legalize gambling. While the Taiwanese government will have to put its stamp of approval on the bill, the potential here is tremendous -- and big casino companies are already moving on it.
A former Las Vegas Sands executive has $2 billion set aside for a casino resort on Matsu, which could be up and running as early as 2019 if Taiwan approves the bill.
With a vote expected in the coming months, we could see Wynn and Las Vegas Sands, among others, jumping in headfirst to get a piece of the island -- one that would attract mainland Chinese gamblers possibly more than the further-out Macau.
Analysts seem bullish at the probability of a favorable vote from Taiwan, but even that doesn't solidify Matsu's future. Increasing tensions between China and Taiwan could put a damper on Chinese citizens' ability to visit the gambling institutions. For the Taiwanese, Matsu isn't as convenient a destination.
Still, for investors interested in the space, this is a story to keep a very close eye on. If all goes well, the big casino players could see yet another surge in growth for years to come.
Fool contributor Michael Lewis has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.