Macau casino operator Galaxy sees profits triple

Galaxy Macau, Macau
Image caption Visitors enter the new the Galaxy Macau casino resort

Galaxy Entertainment says its profits tripled in 2011 after the Macau casino operator opened a $2bn resort in the Chinese gambling enclave.

The company said that profits totalled 3bn Hong Kong dollars ($387m; £247m) compared with HK$900m in 2010.

Macau is the world's biggest gambling destination, with revenues five times greater than in Las Vegas.

Galaxy said its financial performance had been "outstanding" and it was confident of future growth.

However, the results lagged analysts' expectations of HK$3.3bn profit.

Galaxy's profits were boosted by the opening of its flagship, 550,000 sq-m Galaxy Macau resort in May last year. It boasts 2,200 hotel rooms, 50 restaurants and a roof-top wave pool with an artificial beach, as well as a massive casino floor.

"We believe we are very well placed to capitalise on the significant growth opportunities in Macau as it rapidly diversifies and develops into of the world's pre-eminent leisure and tourist destinations," the company said.

Galaxy runs five other smaller casinos in Macau - the only place in China where they are legal.

Macau's gambling industry has expanded quickly since it was liberalised in 2002. Gambling revenues increased by 42% last year, despite a slowdown in China's economy.

However, the former Portuguese territory is trying hard to broaden its appeal, amid fears that the casino industry's growth has been too fast and furious.

That may prove an uphill struggle. Galaxy said revenue from its hotels and restaurants totalled HK$1bn, a fraction of the company's gambling revenue of HK$38bn.

Galaxy is run by Hong Kong property tycoon Lui Che Woo. Private equity group Permira has a 13% stake.

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