MACAU (Reuters) - Forget the shows, buffets, show girls and cigar bars. As it prepares for a $1.6 billion initial public offering for its casino operations in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, U.S. gaming giant Wynn Resorts <WYNN.O> has figured out what Asian punters want and is giving them plenty of it: Good old-fashioned gambling.
Since opening its first Macau property three years ago, Wynn has nearly doubled its casino space there, and now offers 205,000 square feet of slot machines, baccarat, roulette and other table games, up from an original 110,000 square feet.
A restaurant and even a production kitchen were sidelined to make way for casino space, feeding hungry customers, mostly from mainland China, with what they most craved.
Even now, Wynn Macau is converting a 600-seat theater that never played host to regular shows for other uses, including slot machines and VIP gaming.
On the crowded gaming floor, meanwhile, the open-air Red 8 is easily Wynn Macau's most popular eatery, crowded on a recent day with noisy gamers stopping for a quick bite before returning to the tables. Many of the property's more upscale restaurants don't even bother opening before dinner.
"The Chinese don't care about the rooms and food," said Gabriel Chan, an analyst at Credit Suisse. "Most casinos just provide instant noodles and abalone. The Chinese don't walk away from the table to eat or go back to their rooms."
Wynn declined to comment directly on the phenomenon.
But the numbers speak for themselves: A whopping 90 percent of Wynn's Macau revenue comes from gambling, versus closer to a 50-50 split for its Las Vegas properties, which also draw heavy revenue from their hotels, restaurants, shows and shops.
Mainland China supplies about 65 percent of Macau's visitors, many of them repeat customers.
China's clampdown on the frequency of such visits last year -- amid concerns over excessive gambling by its citizens -- sent chills through the local gaming market, which has surpassed the Las Vegas Strip as the world's largest.
But a recent relaxation of those restrictions has helped business recover for Wynn and other major operators, including Galaxy Entertainment <0027.HK> and Melco Crown <MPEL.O>, whose casinos and rooms are expected to host to throngs of gamblers during China's weeklong Oct 1 National Day holiday.
"Gaming is one of many options in Vegas. But in Macau, people definitely want to go there for gaming," said Chan. "In Vegas, most people stay for about four days and it's hard to spend four days in a row gaming. In Macau, 50 percent of visitors are day-trippers."
(Additional reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Chris Lewis)