Macau shines as Asia’s gambling market booms
2011 was another strong year for Macau’s booming gambling sector. According to official figures, casino revenue in the territory was up 42% on 2010.
Boom cityAccording to Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, casino revenues in 2011 were $33.5 billion, up from $23.5 billion in 2010. This increase has been attributed to an influx of visitors from the Chinese mainland.
Asia's gambling flourishMacau’s rapid growth is mirrored by the wider Asian gambling sector. Indeed, accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that Asia’s gambling market will become the world’s biggest by 2013.
In a report released in December 2011, PWC expects the Asian casino market to continue to grow rapidly in the years ahead. It estimates that by 2013, it’ll be worth $66.7 billion, $1.2 billion more than the US market. By 2015, PWC expects the Asian market to be twice the size it was in 2010.
First resortThe catalyst for this growth is the continued development of casino-based resorts. Macau itself has been undergoing an ambitious program of hotel building and infrastructure development. Likewise, the emergence of Singapore’s casino resorts has also had its impact. Nevertheless, neither is able to satisfy Asia’s demand for casino gambling.
Online gambling lags behindOne area where Asia is lagging behind the West is online gambling. In the West, most governments are edging towards legalizing online gambling. This is especially true in the European Union, which is pressurizing its member states to open up their online markets.
In Asia though, online gambling remains illegal in all countries bar the Philippines. And while many countries (such as India and China) turn a blind eye to it, it remains a grey market.
Nor is there much prospect of this changing in the near future. Demand for resort-style casinos in the region is still outstripping supply. So it’s likely that many Asian countries will focus on expanding these, and not revising their outdated online gambling laws.