Macau overtakes Las Vegas in gambling revenue

All bets are in and it appears that Macau has overtaken the chip lead as the world's biggest gambling market. Fueled by a boom in casino developments, the area on the south coast of China has now surpassed the Las Vegas Strip for that title.

Macau reported revenues of $6.95 billion in 2006. The amount was 22% higher than the previous year and topped the predicted $6.5 billion expected for the Las Vegas Strip for the year.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board hasn't released a full-year figure for the Strip yet, but the first 11 months of revenues came to $6.08 billion. It isn't expected to top more than $6.5 billion when the final month is tallied.

The Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau said that Macau had a total of 24 casinos at the end of 2006 with a total of 2,762 gaming tables and 6,546 slot machines.

That number will sharply increase again during the next three years as other casinos and resorts wrap up their development as well.

Some of Las Vegas' biggest names are in on the growth at Macau. The Sands Macau opened in 2004, while Steve Wynn opened the $1.2 billion Wynn Macau in September 2006.

Also in the works are a Venetian Macao and MGM Grand Macau. The Venetian alone will had seven more hotels with 19,000 rooms in Macau.

According to the Times Online, experts are forecasting a further 18% jump in gambling revenues this year, helped by a 15% increase in visitors from mainland China.

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