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HONG KONG (AP) — Gambling revenue growth in Macau, the world's most lucrative casino market, picked up moderately last month after hitting a three-year low, data released Monday showed, as high-rolling gamblers raised their bets at tables in the semiautonomous Chinese city.
Revenue rose 5.5 percent to 26.1 billion patacas ($3.3 billion) in August from the same month last year, according to data posted on the Macau gambling authority's website.
Macau's casino revenues have surged at double-digit rates in recent years thanks to big-spending Chinese gamblers. Revenue zoomed up 42 percent last year to $33.5 billion, more than five times the amount earned on the Las Vegas Strip. But growth has cooled this year as China's economy has slowed.
In July, revenues rose just 1.5 percent, the slowest rate since mid-2009 and during the depths of the global recession.
The August figures ease some of the concern over the effect of China's slowdown on Macau, whose fortunes are highly dependent on wealthy gamblers from mainland China.
The data also showed that revenues were the second highest ever for Macau casinos, topped only by October 2011's 26.8 billion patacas. For the first eight months of the year, revenue rose 15 percent over the year before.
Macau, a former Portuguese colony that came back under Chinese control in 1999, is the only place in China where casino gambling is legal. Authorities ended a four-decade casino monopoly in 2002, transforming the city into an Asian gambling powerhouse by opening the way for foreign operators such as Las Vegas Sands Corp., Wynn Resorts, and MGM International to enter the market.
Follow Kelvin Chan at twitter.com/chanman