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Macau gambling revenue up 7 percent in Jan, misses estimates

HONG KONG, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Macau, the world's casino capital, raked in 28.7 billion patacas ($3.6 billion) in gambling revenues for the first month of 2014, boosted by Chinese visitors flocking to the country's only legal casino hub ahead of a week-long national holiday.

Revenue growth in Macau, a special administrative region of China like neighbouring Hong Kong, was up 7 percent in January, the lowest growth rate since October 2012 and far below analyst estimates of 11-15 percent.

The former Portuguese colony, which earns the equivalent of Las Vegas's annual haul in less than two months, raked in $45 billion in 2013, elevating it above rival gaming destinations.

Gambling demand is seasonally subdued in Macau ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday, which started on Jan. 31, with many visitors saving their visits for the holiday period.