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Macau gaming revenues hit $3.12 billion in March

4 April 2012

First-quarter gaming revenues produced by Macau's casino market is up 27 percent over 2011, a year in which the Chinese gaming enclave's 34 gambling halls had a 12-month total of $33.5 billion.

Macau's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau said Monday that gaming revenues reached $3.12 billion during March, a 24 percent increase compared with a year ago. For the year's first three months, Macau casinos have collected more than $9.9 billion.

Analysts have predicted Macau could see a full-year gaming revenue increase of up to 22 percent.

Macau is expected to get a boost this month from the opening of Sands Cotai Central, a development on the Cotai Strip owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp. The initial phase of the project, which includes four hotels with casinos and other attractions, including retail and convention space, is the only development scheduled to open this year in Macau.

"In short, we see solid results ahead," JP Morgan gaming analyst Joe Greff told investors. "Besides strong top-line growth, upward revisions to earnings driven by margin expansion would be an additional driver as the high-margin mass-market segment continues to outpace the low-margin VIP segment."

Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets gaming analyst Steven Wieczynski told investors that Las Vegas Sands was "the most compelling way to capitalize on the strength in Asian gaming markets" because of the company's holdings in Macau and Singapore.

"With the first stage of its Cotai Central project set to open in a few short weeks, we believe Las Vegas Sands stands to benefit from having a two- to three-year window of being the only new capacity on Cotai," Wieczynski said.