Macau casino revenue numbers hide real news

Over the past few months, Macau casino revenues have disappointed. October’s new revenue record of MOP27.7 billion (US$3.46 billion), while welcome, represented a modest 3.2 percent increase over revenue a year ago. But behind the numbers, key changes are taking place that will transform Macau.

After years of increasing domination by VIP players provided by junket operators, for about a year mass market gamblers have been driving revenue growth. As I wrote in the October issue of Macau Business, the trend will show its biggest impact beyond the casino floor.

A related trend is the swing toward Cotai, covered in the July issue of Macau Business. Three casino operators already have resorts in Cotai, the entertainment area built on landfill between Macau’s outer islands, and this year the government has approved development applications from the other three. By the end of 2017, there will be at least six new developments in Cotai, built for some US$15 billion.

Things will surely be different by then. But Macau’s shakeup has already begun, with its effect felt as far away as Beijing and Wall Street.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.