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Investors bet on revival of Macau's huge casinos

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People walk on a water front near a strip of casinos including the Wynn, and the older Hotel Lisboa, at night in Macau.

People walk on a water front near a strip of casinos including the Wynn, and the older Hotel Lisboa, at night in Macau.

Natalie Behring

Ian Michael Coughlan, executive director and president of Wynn Resorts (Macau) S.A. Wynn Macau, Limited attends the listing ceremony of Wynn Macau, Limited at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Friday, Oct. 9, 2009. Billionaire Steven Wynn saw shares of his Macau casino company jump 13 percent in their trading debut on the Hong Kong stock exchange Friday, reflecting stronger faith in the Chinese gambling city's prospects.  (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Ian Michael Coughlan, executive director and president of Wynn Resorts (Macau) S.A. Wynn Macau, Limited attends the listing ceremony of Wynn Macau, Limited at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Friday, Oct. 9, 2009. Billionaire Steven Wynn saw shares of his Macau casino company jump 13 percent in their trading debut on the Hong Kong stock exchange Friday, reflecting stronger faith in the Chinese gambling city's prospects. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

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People walk on a water front near a strip of casinos including the Wynn, and the older Hotel Lisboa, at night in Macau.

Investors are betting that a slump at Macau's casinos has petered out, with shares in operators on the former Portuguese colony having soared yesterday despite gross gaming revenue there having fallen 39pc last month.

One of the largest casino operations on the island - Wynn Macau - is headed by Irishman Ian Coughlan. He's a graduate of the Shannon College of Hotel Management and has headed Wynn's business in Macau since 2007.

But Macau's casinos have been hit by a slump in gambling turnover as China, which ultimately controls the island that's less than an hour's ferry journey from Hong Kong, imposed a corporate governance crackdown.

That has frightened high-spending wealthy Chinese gamblers away from Macau and damaged business it would have generated from junkets.

Figures out yesterday showed that gross gaming revenue on the island fell to 19.2bn patacas (€2.1bn) during March, in line with analyst estimates.

Still, the island ranks as the biggest gambling centre in the world, eclipsing Las Vegas whose gaming revenue is seven times less than that of Macau's.

There's a huge casino building programme under way in Macau, with $23bn (€20bn) in projects that will open in coming years.

Wynn chief executive Steve Wynn said last week that the "degradation in volumes" of VIP gamblers in Macau had continued so far this year.

Irish Independent