Macau Gambling Revenues Hit Record

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(Reuters) - Shares of Macau casino operators rose on Thursday on reports gambling revenues in Macau rose to a new high in August, signalling a faster-than-expected recovery in the world's largest gambling market.

Shares of Galaxy Entertainment Group rose as much as 6.4 percent to a near one-month high of HK$2.39, while Melco International Development, which is owned by Macau gambling scion Lawrence Ho, rose as much as 7.1 percent to a one-week high of HK$4.95.

Macau casino revenue soared 17.2 percent to 11.27 billion patacas ($US1.41 billion) in August, compared with a year earlier, according to analyst reports citing Portuguese news agency Lusa.

The growth rate surpassed the previous record set in January 2008, when casino revenues hit 10.34 billion patacas.

Gaming revenues are expected to record an even stronger year-on-year growth rate starting in September because of the slump in the market in the same period a year ago, analysts said.

"With excitement about the upcoming IPOs as well as positive macro news flow, including the relaxation of visa restrictions and implementation of a junket commission cap, we believe there is still money to be made in the near term," said Credit Suisse analyst Gabriel Chan in a note.

U.S. casino archrivals Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts have filed for listings on the Hong Kong stock exchange, at a time when analysts are forecasting that the former Portuguese colony of Macau will recover faster than Las Vegas...

SJM Holdings, Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho's flagship firm, gained as much as 4.6 per cent to a one-week high of HK$3.40, while Shun Tak Holdings, which operates the ferries from Hong Kong to Macau, soared as much as 8.2 per cent to a one-week high of HK$5.66.

SJM, which already has the biggest market share of the mass-market and VIP segments, was the biggest winner in August. Its market share rose to 27 per cent in August from 23 percent a month earlier, according to Citigroup analysts.

But they added that Wynn could have lost market share to a new casino opening. Its market share fell 2 percentage points to 13 per cent in August, placing it slightly ahead of MGM Mirage, which has 11 per cent, and Galaxy, with 10 per cent.

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