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Rod Smith

Inside gaming column: Wall Street expects big things in Macau

10 October 2006

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Wall Street analysts are more bullish than ever about how big the gaming market in Macau could get, raising estimates a whopping 20 percent for near-term business. Experience from two years at Sands Macau and the opening of Wynn Macau have convinced analysts there should be an added $2 billion in the former Portuguese colony's mass market by 2010. A lot of that is attributable to longer-than-expected stays in a market unaccustomed to Las Vegas-style hotel-casinos. On the downside, some analysts are also cutting their 2010 estimates for high rollers by $1 billion, based on doubts the Cotai Strip will be an overnight success story.

Recent surveys suggest few locals realize they can ride the Las Vegas Monorail for a buck. That's part of the plan for the monorail to reach its ambitious goal of increasing the number of rides by 20 percent to 40 percent over the next 12 months. Better education may be a key. But even with the most optimistic projections that have visitors and locals making 15 million to 20 million rides a year by 2016, the monorail will still account for just more than 10 percent if all the trips in the resort corridor.

A lot of readers have had follow-up questions on the Gaming and Casino Fund, which we reported here several months ago as the first mutual fund focused on casinos and gaming. The fund gained 3.75 percent in September, compared with the Morningstar Mid Growth Index's gain of 1.86 percent for the month. Since its inception on March 31, the Gaming and Casino Fund lost 0.3 percent in value; during the same period, the Morningstar Mid Growth Index dropped 6.35 percent. It is still the only U.S. mutual fund to specialize in the gaming and casino industries.

Los Angeles gamblers tell us to watch the skies for the new breed of very light jets. At half the price of corporate jets, these lighter planes are catching on fast with the business elite of the Southland for business commutes. But the same crowd makes up a huge proportion of the high rollers hitting the Strip. The new-generation jets fly for half the cost of conventional private aviation and let the party crowd avoid the hassles of commercial air travel.

Too good to be true: "Casino Gambling for Dummies." The book's dust jacket says this is THE book for you if you're crazy about casinos, but worried about losing your shirt. With it, you're told you can relax after reading its insider tips for maximizing winnings. But more money is spent (read: lost) gambling than on sports, movies and music combined. One might be cautious about promises to "beat the house and bring home the bucks."

Gaming Wire Editor Rod Smith can be reached by phone at 477-3893 or by e-mail at