Casino revenue in Macau jumped 47.7 percent in February to 19.86 billion patacas ($2.5 billion), the Macau government said on Tuesday, driven by a torrent of gamblers from mainland China to the world's largest gaming market.
Robust demand from mainland tourists, who account for the bulk of Macau's visitors, has been bolstered by a buoyant Chinese economy, helping to sustain double-digit growth in the former Portuguese enclave.
In recent years, U.S. casino operators Wynn Resorts Ltd (WYNN.O), operating through Hong Kong-listed Wynn Macau Ltd, and Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS.N), via Hong Kong-listed Sands China Ltd, have seen revenue from their Macau casinos dwarf that of their Las Vegas counterparts.
Macau, with its glitzy facade of neon lights and playboy bunnies, is the only Chinese city in which gambling is legal.
Analysts remain bullish on the city's outlook, citing the low penetration of the mainland market and the rising affluence of China's burgeoning middle class.
Gary Pinge, regional head of Gaming and Consumer at Macquarie Securities in Hong Kong, said the figures were a surprise as over the past four years, February has generally been 5-10 percent weaker than in January, because of the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday.
February looks all the more impressive given the fact that there were three (10 percent) fewer days and one less weekend than in January. If this is a trend for the rest of the year, Macau could continue to see strong growth, month on month, he said.
February's figure was higher than the 18.57 billion patacas recorded for January.
China's super rich, who make up Macau's high-rolling VIP segment, were likely to continue to account for about 70 percent of gaming revenue in the near term, said analysts.
But mass-gaming revenue, seen predominantly through revenue from baccarat, the most popular card game in Macau, is expected to start playing a bigger role this year.
Macau's growing mass-market segment is also expected to be supported in the medium to longer term by infrastructure developments such as construction of a light rail system in Macau and China's high-speed rail network.