A quick look at the half-year gross revenue figures for Macau’s gaming industry reveals that from a total MOP59.264 billion (just over US$7.4 billion) the so-called Games of Fortune made MOP58.708 billion (US$7.33 billion). Twenty-four such games are played at Macau’s thirty casinos but baccarat is the revenue maker. VIP baccarat accounted for MOP40.9 billion (US$5.1 billion) in the first six months of 2008 and baccarat another MOP10.537 billion (US$1.32 billion).
Slot machines brought in MOP2.748 billion (US$343.5 million), but have been reduced in number to just under 13,000 in the second quarter of this year. Other casino games pale into insignificance in comparison with baccarat, and only Cussec (a variation of Sic-Bo) made over MOP1 billion. Fantan, once the most popular game in Macau with over 200 stalls operating in the streets and lanes of Macau in the mid-nineteenth century, is still played and contributed MOP96 million (US$12 million) this half-year.
In some ways Macau was the forerunner in the modern global gaming industry. According to the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (known by the initials DICJ from the Portuguese Direcção de Inspecção e Coordenação de Jogos), in 1930 the Hou Heng Company won the monopoly concession to operate approved casino games and introduced the comps, junkets and casino entertainment so familiar nowadays. The company “renovated and refurbished the casinos sumptuously, offered complimentary Chinese opera shows, free fruits, cigarettes and snacks to the patrons, and purchased ferry tickets on their behalf.”
The latest figures from the DICJ show that by 30 June 2008 gross gaming revenue was 70.6% of total revenues for 2007. However, the second quarter results were lower than the first quarter by nearly MOP1 billion. There are presently 4,277 gaming tables in Macau, a huge increase from the 424 operating in 2003 after the end of the STDM gaming monopoly, and VIP baccarat accounts for almost 70% of the revenue. New rules on visa applications imposed by the mainland government are likely to adversely affect future gaming revenues, and the reduction in Macau gaming stock prices is already reflecting this. (E-07.22.08)
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