REVENUE from Macau's casinos rose by 20 per cent to a record last month, beating analyst estimates as Christmas promotions drew more holidaymakers to the world's biggest gambling hub.
The news sent shares of Macau's casino operators higher, including Melco Crown, the joint-venture operation of James Packer's Crown.
Casino revenue in the Chinese city jumped to 28.2 billion patacas ($A3.3 billion) in December, beating the previous record of 27.7 billion patacas in October, according to Macau's Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau. "This is definitely better than our expectation and much higher than the street estimates," said Jeremy Tan, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Kim Eng Securities.
"It's a combination of higher holiday footfall, higher win rate and a return to VIP market.''
Full-year casino revenue in Macau increased by 14 per cent from 2011 to 304 billion patacas, also a record.
Gambling revenue is climbing as operators, including Sands China, Galaxy and Melco Crown, expand in the only place in China where casinos are legal.
Visitor arrivals rose 0.5 per cent to 25.6 million in the first 11 months of 2012, with 60 per cent coming from mainland China, the city's Statistics and Census Service said.
Macau authorities expected 800,000 border crossings from January 1 to January 3, Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen said in a report.