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Macau Eyes Curbs on its Booming Gambling Industry

Written by:
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Published on:
Oct/13/2009

HONG KONG -(Associated Press) - Macau may curb the growth of its booming casino industry with limits on the number of gambling tables and other restrictions, the government said.

The southern Chinese city's government met Monday with executives of six casino operators, including the local units of Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts, to discuss a review of the industry, according to a government statement.

The companies all agreed the city's gambling sector shouldn't expand unlimitedly, the statement said.

The government said it would examine the local industry's scale, including the number of gambling tables, as well as move to bar slot machines from residential areas and raise the age limit to enter casinos from 18 to 21.

Macau, the only place in China were gambling is legal, has boomed in recent years, surpassing the Las Vegas Strip as the world's more lucrative gambling market.

Growth fell with the onset of the economic crisis, but recovered thanks to a robust Chinese economy and the relaxing of visa restrictions on mainland Chinese tourists.

Macau's growth has helped provide a cushion for Las Vegas Sands and Wynn at a time when the U.S. gambling market is down sharply. In August, the enclave had its best month ever, raking in almost 11.4 billion patacas ($1.4 billion).

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