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Macau Gambling Revenue Jumps 21 Percent

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Gambling revenue in the southern Chinese territory of Macau jumped 21.3 percent in November after events including an international boxing match and an annual Grand Prix motor race led to an increase in high-spending visitors.

China's only legal casino hub is one of the world's fastest-growing economies thanks to the gambling industry, earning most of its income from visitors from nearby Chinese provinces such as Guangdong.

Revenue was 30.18 billion patacas (USD$3.78 billion) - the fourth highest this year - according to government data.

Casinos welcomed visitors attracted to the territory by Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao fighting at the Venetian resort, and the annual street circuit race held over two weekends.

Macau, home to 35 casinos with 8 more in the works, is under pressure from the central government in Beijing to rely less on gambling and diversify into other types of leisure and tourism business.

As a result, casino operators Sands China, Melco Crown Entertainment, Galaxy Entertainment Group, MGM China, SJM and Wynn Macau are starting to increase non-gaming amenities such as Melco's House of Dancing Water show and Galaxy's film theatre.

The former Portuguese colony may see growth constrained in the short term as it runs out of hotel rooms, with new hotels unlikely to open before the end of next year.

Growth is likely to spurt again when a bridge opens by 2016 joining Macau with Hong Kong as well as the Chinese border city of Zhuhai.

Casinos will also benefit from new rail links shortening travel times to China's northern cities, as well as from the planned expansion of ferry terminals and the airport.

(Reuters)

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