alaxy, which runs the Galaxy Macau and StarWorld Hotel casinos in the former Portuguese colony, benefited as the world’s largest gambling hub attracted more Chinese tourists last year. Companies such as Galaxy, Sands China and Melco Crown Entertainment plan to expand in Macau’s Cotai area, a zone equivalent to Asia’s Las Vegas Strip, as casino revenue rose to a record us$ 38 billion in 2012.
The company, based in Hong Kong, said in December it would invest as much as us$ 6.44 billion to expand a Macau resort as it seeks to draw more Chinese visitors to its properties. Macau is the only place in China where casino gambling is legal.
The casino operator has received approval from the Macau government to add 50 tables between its Galaxy Macau and Starworld properties, Deputy Chairman Francis Lui said at a press conference. Shares of Galaxy fell 0.8 %. The benchmark Hang Seng Index gained 0.3 %.
Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or Ebitda, surged to us$ 1.26 billion from us$ 734.2 million in 2011. Revenue rose 38 % to us$ 7.3 billion. Still Macau’s gaming growth is slowing. Gross gambling revenue rose at about 9 % in the first two months of this year, lagging behind the consensus 13 % growth estimate for 2013, Jefferies Hong Kong analysts led by Leon Liao wrote in a note this month. High-stakes bettors from the mainland are curbing spending after a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy last year, according to Liao.
Lui said he hasn’t seen any evidence of a China government policy crackdown on the VIP junket operators who offer credit to gamblers from the mainland.
Macau’s government said last month it will “strengthen” its licensing system for casino junket operators and work with law enforcement to tackle gambling-related crimes.