Macau ’07 gaming rises 46%

Oct 23, 2007 5:07 AM

Two weeks ago, a preliminary estimate of a 55% increase in Macau gaming revenues shocked analysts who were predicting that the growth since 2006 would reach a 75% level. As a result, the major gaming companies with Macau activity saw their share prices decline.

Those analysts who had predicted a larger percentage increase warned that the preliminary number would be adjusted when all the figures were in and that investors should wait for the true figure.

That warning proved accurate, in that the percentage was adjusted but much to their dismay the number was adjusted downward.

The Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, whose responsibility is to monitor the gaming revenues, announced on Thursday that the revenue for the quarter ending on September 30 was $2.55 billion, an increase of 46%. For the nine month period, the Bureau said, was $7.3 billion, beating the amount of revenue generated throughout the year 2006.

Following the release, analysts at JP Morgan’s Hong Kong office reported their estimated market share for the various groups operating casinos in Macau. They listed Stanley Ho’s 18 casinos as increasing its market share from 35% to 41%.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) showed the greatest improvement, according to the analysts’ estimates, by increasing market share to 26% from the previous 16%. That number is expected to grow larger next month when the company opens a second Macau casino.

Galaxy Group took the biggest hit in the reported numbers by seeing its market share drop from 23% to 14% while Melco’s percentage was cut in half, from 8% to 4%.

Suffering from a low hold percentage, JP Morgan’s analysts said, was Wynn Resorts Ltd. whose Wynn Macau fell three percentage points to 15% from its previous 18%.

According to the Macau Bureau, high-rollers who make the trip to Macau for a gambling excursion typically spend $62,620 in one or more casinos. They represent more than two-thirds of all the money wagered at the many casinos.