Jan. 02--Las Vegas is no longer the gambling capital of the world. Not by a long shot.
The tiny Chinese city of Macau reported a whopping $45 billion of gambling revenue in 2013, a figure analysts expect will be about seven times as much as casinos on the iconic Las Vegas Strip.
Strip casinos generated $6.2 billion of gambling revenues in 2012 and are on pace for a slight gain this year.
Macau's nearly three dozen casinos raked in $4.2 billion in December, according to data released Thursday by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, the gambling regulator. That brought revenue for 2013 to $45 billion, up 18.6% from 2012, the Associated Press reported.
Macau's results smashed even the most optimistic expectations, according to an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. One analyst told the Review-Journal that 2014 is expected to be an even bigger year for casino operators in Macau.
The former Portuguese colony's once-lethargic casino market has thrived since the government ended a gambling monopoly a decade ago and let in foreign players such as Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd.
All six casino operators in Macau, an hour by high-speed ferry from Hong Kong, are pouring billions of dollars into new mega-projects in the district in a fresh round of expansion.
Wynn shares were up $2.85, or 1.5%, to $197.06 in morning trading. Las Vegas Sands shares were up $1.09, or 1.4%, to $79.96.
Macau's casino revenue is the envy of other markets around Asia, which have been looking at ways to duplicate the southern Chinese city's success.
Increasing numbers of wealthy high-rolling visitors from mainland China have helped power Macau's rise as a casino hub, the Associated Press said.
Revenue has already overtaken the entire market in the U.S., where a year ago about 12,000 U.S. casinos raked in $37.3 billion, according to figures from the American Gaming Assn.
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