Asia will be home to the world's two biggest casino markets as early as this year, with Singapore set to take the No. 2 spot from Las Vegas, a US gambling industry group said today. Singapore raked in $5.1 billion in gaming revenue last year and could bring in up to $6.4 billion this year. The city-state opened its first two casinos last year. Las Vegas, which lost its No. 1 spot to Macau in 2006, earned $5.8 billion in casino revenue last year, but is a mature market with little potential for big growth, says the American Gaming Association president.
Gambling revenue in Macau, by far the world's most lucrative gambling market, hit $23.5 billion last year, and monthly revenue has grown by at least 42% from February to May. High-rollers from mainland China coming to Macau are a big source of cash for casinos, accounting in some cases for up to 70% of revenues. Gambling in big amounts is easy for high-spending mainland Chinese—so-called junket operators lend them money for their gambling, and debts aren't collected until the gamblers return to China. But a possible crackdown on these operators could also limit expansion in the booming Asian industry. (Read more Singapore stories.)