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    New casinos to fuel betting industry
Paresh Chugh
2005-06-18 07:36

MACAO: The number of casino tables in the world's largest gaming economy will grow four to five times by 2008, Deutsche Bank Securities has said, expecting the number of slot machines to rise from 2,600 to 15,000-20,000 by the end of the decade.

The managing director of Deutsche Bank research, Marc Falcone, said at the Asian Gaming Expo in Macao this week that he expected a steady 20 per cent growth in the gaming market every year. The hotel and gaming equipment manufacturing industry will get a boost once the announced projects, worth over US$8-10 billion, are completed in the next five years.

The US$5.4-billion Macao gaming market has already overtaken the more famous Las Vegas strip as the place where the most gambling is done.

Falcone said the average length of stay for visitors in Macao was about 1.2 days. But once Macao becomes a "destination gambling environment" with attractions and shopping malls, the length of stay would increase, he said, with visitors filling thousands of hotel rooms, which can be booked online, in high profile casinos such as Melco's City of Dreams and Venetian Macao.

The bank expects other smaller gambling destinations across Asia such as Singapore and the Philippines to also benefit from the gaming energy bouncing off Macao.

The managing director of International Game Technology (IGT) Asia in Macao, Scott Winzeler, is optimistic about the opportunities for his interactive gaming machines. He said that once the new casinos start business on the Cotai strip the market could see a rollout of a network of gaming machines linked across Macao, similar to the "wide area progressive games" pioneered by IGT in Las Vegas in the 1980s.

These games, Winzeler said, use jackpot machines that combine their win pools across casinos together to allow multi-million dollar slot wins for a few lucky players. IGT's target is to see three game machines for every table in Macao.

Andy Nazarechuk of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has predicted that Macao would get 40 million visitors a year by 2010. He expects the spin-off benefits to be a surging property market in the SAR along with a higher demand for luxury goods as the number of jobs grows and people's wealth increases.

(HK Edition 06/18/2005 page3)


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