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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Global gambling revenue up 5.6%, led by Asia growth

Global gambling revenue climbed to a record $419 billion last year, led by growth in Asia, according to Global Betting & Gaming Consultants.

Revenue rose 5.6% from $397 billion in 2010 and is forecast to reach $448 billion this year, according to Lorian Pilling, a director at Isle of Man, U.K.-based GBGC. The strongest growth was in Macau, Singapore and Cambodia, as emerging markets proved more resilient to the global economic crisis than developed countries, he said.

"It's closely linked to the wider economic situation," Pilling said by phone today. "In 2009, at the height of the crisis, gambling was hit like any other sector."

GBGC expects commercial casinos to overtake lotteries as the main source of gambling revenue this year, bolstered by openings in the Philippines in the first half of 2012. Lotteries brought in more than 28% of revenue in 2011, followed by casinos in jurisdictions such as Macau, Singapore and Cambodia, excluding U.S. tribal gaming, at just under 28%.

"Lotteries tend to do quite well in recessions, but we need a resolution in the crisis in Europe because uncertainty is hitting the market," Pilling said.

Doubts about how to resolve the European debt crisis have undermined a recovery. Greece faces a 14.5 billion-euro ($19.3 billion) bond payment on March 20 and is struggling to secure financing to avert a collapse of the economy that could spark a new round of contagion in the euro area.

Developments in China will determine how much gaming grows in Macau, Pilling said. "If China's economy does have a crash landing, it is difficult to see Macau's gaming growth rates being maintained," he said.

Gross domestic product in China expanded at an annual pace of 8.9% in the last three months of 2011 -- the least in 10 quarters and down from 9.1% in the third quarter. Growth may slow to 7.5% this quarter, Nomura Holdings Inc. estimates.

Revenue from gaming machines outside casinos in North America fell about 14% last year, while sales from lotteries rose 2%, Pilling said. Gambling revenue increased about 5.5% in Europe after shrinking almost 6% in 2010, he said.

"A strong recovery in the U.S. would help gaming revenues that have been hit hard in recent years," Pilling said. "North America will continue to recover. We're fairly cautious on Europe; growth is seen at 3.5% across all gambling categories because of the uncertainty in the euro zone."

Global gambling revenue will reach $500 billion by 2014 as several casinos in Asia are due to open in the coming years and Singapore's integrated resorts are still only in their second full year of operations, Pilling said.

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