Gambling revenue soars in Macau

File image of croupier in Macau casino Huge casinos have gone up in Macau since it was opened up to investors

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Casino gambling revenue in Macau soared in 2010 to reach a record high, according to official figures.

Revenue totalled $23.5bn (£15.2bn), up 57% on the previous year, reinforcing the territory's position as the world's most lucrative gambling market.

Earnings have been driven by an influx of gamblers from mainland China.

Macau - a former Portuguese colony returned to China in 1999 - is the only Chinese city where gambling is legal.

It opened up its gambling industry to foreign competition in 2002, triggering a building boom.

In 2007 gambling revenue there overtook that of the Las Vegas Strip in the US.

The figures for 2010 were released by Macau's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.

As well as an annual record, gambling revenue also set a monthly record in December 2010 of $2.36bn - up 66% year on year.

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