May 17 (Bloomberg) -- MGM China Holdings Ltd., the Macau casino unit of MGM Resorts International, said it expects the city’s business from high-stake gamblers to continue to pick up “slightly” as the Chinese economy improves.
Double-digit growth from VIP customers is “sustainable” for the industry and the casino operator’s business from high-stake gamblers is “solid,” Chief Executive Officer Grant Bowie said in an interview in Macau yesterday.
High-rollers from China’s mainland curbed spending amid a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy last year. In the first quarter, the city’s VIP baccarat revenue rose 9.8 percent to 57.82 billion patacas ($7.2 billion) from a year earlier.
“Everyone was speculating some negative impact, but the leadership change wasn’t an impact,” Bowie said, referring to the government transition in mainland China. “There’s also a level of resilience in terms of how China market is performing relative to the global market.”
VIPs account for about two-thirds of casino revenue in Macau. New attractions coupled with an improved rail connection with Northern China are drawing more mainland visitors to Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub.
MGM earlier this month posted a 9.7 percent increase in first-quarter profit, while turnover at its VIP-room gambling tables rose 15 percent from a year earlier.
Macau, the only place in China where casino gambling is legal, raked in $38 billion in revenue last year, six times that of the Las Vegas strip. Deutsche Bank AG estimated casino revenue will rise 17 percent to $44.5 billion this year.
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