Macau gambling revenue hits record $56 billion in 2013

Macau gambling revenue hits record $56 billion in 2013
Visitors try slot machines during the Macao Gaming Show in Macau November 14,2013.

HONG KONG - Macau's gambling revenue jumped 18.6 per cent to a record US$45 billion (S$56 billion) in 2013, official figures showed Thursday, cementing the city's place as the world's largest gaming hub.

Gaming revenues rose to 360.75 billion patacas (US$45.17 billion) last year from 304.14 billion patacas in 2012, according to government figures.

There had been fears of a slowdown as year-on-year growth in 2012 was just 13.5 per cent, compared to 42 per cent in the previous year.

Macau's gaming sector has seen a boom in recent years due to an influx of well-heeled Chinese gamblers, and the city's government has distributed cash handouts to its residents annually since 2008.

But the high growth has also caused the Chinese and Macau governments to express concern about the city's gambling-dependent economy.

The only part of China where casino gambling is legal, Macau overtook Las Vegas as the world's gaming capital in terms of revenue after the sector was opened up to foreign competition in 2002.

Some 23 per cent of Macau's total workforce are employed in the gaming sector.

Six firms are licenced to operate casinos in the former Portuguese colony, which was handed back to Beijing in 1999.

Casino operators have plans to expand their resorts on the Cotai Strip, a former swamp which has been reclaimed and transformed into a glittering centre for gamblers.

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