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Asia Poised to Overtake U.S. as Gaming Destination by 2013

By Robin Chan, The Straits Times, Singapore / Asia News NetworkMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Dec. 08, 2011--SINGAPORE -- Casino revenue is set for such "dramatic growth" in Asia that the region will surpass the US as a gambling destination by 2013, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report yesterday.

Revenue from casino gaming in the region totalled US$34.3 billion last year but it should hit US$79.3 billion by 2015, driven by growth of around 18.3 per cent a year.

Spending on gaming in the United States will rise just 5 per cent a year, lifting revenue from US$57.5 billion last year to US$73.3 billion in 2015.

Globally gaming revenue will rise from US$117.6 billion last year to US$182.8 billion in 2015.

New opportunities for gaming, such as at Singapore's two casinos, along with economic growth, the rise of the middle class and the deep attachment to gambling in the region will spur Asia's gaming income, the report said.

While Macau will be the "jewel in the gaming crown", Singapore's strong emergence as a casino gaming centre has been one of the foremost new contributors to the region's market.

Ms Charlotte Hsu, Singapore entertainment and media leader at PwC, said: "Although Macau has the highest total market revenue in Asia Pacific, Singapore casinos have the highest return on margins on a property-by- property basis of comparison in this region.

"Singapore is proving to be stiff competition for Australia, for instance."

Gaming revenues from Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) have surged from zero in 2009 to US$4.4 billion so far this year and are predicted to reach US$7.2 billion by 2015.

"Asia provides the bright spot in the global industry with huge growth potential," said Mr Greg Unsworth, PwC's Singapore leader for technology, infocomm, entertainment and media.

"New major developments in locations, such as Macau and Singapore, have been very successful as they tap Asia's rising affluent and mobile middle classes in search of new entertainment."

The appeal of more gambling options in Asia means high rollers do not have to head to the US, the report added, noting that American casino resorts like Las Vegas that have a higher reliance on foreign tourists will feel the pinch.

The bullish figures for Singapore might be even higher, going by a Citigroup report out last week that said gaming income here is expected to reach US$6.1 billion this year, revised upwards from US$5.9 billion. Singapore's two casinos booked revenues of US$4.4 billion in the first three quarters this year.

The market is expected to grow about 13 per cent next year to US$6.9 billion, surpassing Las Vegas in size.

RWS continues to lose market share to MBS, said Citigroup analysts.

One indicator -- its share of VIPs -- fell from 52 per cent in the second quarter to 44 per cent in the third quarter at the Genting Singapore-owned RWS.

"We expect MBS to capture 53 per cent of market share in 2012 as the improved foot traffic after the opening of the MRT station in the first quarter of 2012 will likely help it to take more mass market share from RWS," the Citi report said.

Macau's gaming turnover is expected to grow 20 per cent next year to US$40 billion, as it continues to be the world's largest market.

Las Vegas and Atlantic City in the US are forecast to maintain their gaming revenue next year at about US$6.1 billion and US$3.3 billion respectively, as Asia's new gaming options hinder their growth.


(c)2011 the Asia News Network (Hamburg, Germany)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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