This 1 chart could mean big casino profits in 2014
Macau has stopped sprouting new casinos. And rather than being a cause for concern, this could be a major boon to the profitability of existing players.
"There aren't going to be any new casinos coming online until 2015 at the soonest, so basically what we have is a supply constrained market over there," said Michael Khouw, managing director and primary strategist at Dash Financial. "This is kind of the ideal situation for the casinos."
Khouw points out that after rapid growth, the number of casinos in China's gambling mecca has topped out at 35.
Khouw says the lowering of casino supply can be seen in the revenue per available room metrics as well as in the strong occupancy rates.
"I think this is one of the reason why we're seeing [casino stocks] actually start to trade at higher multiples," Khouw said on Friday's "Options Action." "And I think the expectation is that strength in the gaming industry there is going to translate into significantly higher margins."
Robert Shore, a gaming analyst at Union Gaming Group, makes the point that while gaming table growth is currently capped by the government, infrastructure improvements should continue to help shore up revenue.
"The market capacity is constrained from a table perspective right now," Shore told CNBC.com. "But the market should continue to grow based on infrastructure improvements, so Macau will continue to grow even before supply comes online."
(Read more: Versace to build Macau casino resort hotel with SJM)
If Macau casinos do become more profitable, Las Vegas Sands is set to be a bigger winner.
Las Vegas Sands increased its net revenue by $869 million, or 32 percent, between the third quarter of 2012 and the third quarter of 2013, and Macau has contributed 81 percent of that growth. At this point, the company's eponymous city represents just 1 percent of its business.
Shore predicts that Sands' Macau hot streak will continue.
"Everything is looking pretty good for (LVS) right now," Shore said. "They're likely to command an outsized share of growth going forward."
Khouw says the best way to take advantage of this is not to simply buy the stock, but to buy call options. Buying call options allows investors to make bullish bets on a stock without owning it outright, meaning less downside risk. And as the options premium embedded in the Las Vegas Sands calls has deteriorated, they may present an especially good opportunity for traders.
"Options premiums have declined a great deal, and when they're getting very cheap, the only thing you can really do is go out and buy them," Khouw said. "I want to take a cautiously bullish bet, but luckily the market is setting up in such a way that I can do so."
Specifically, Khouw recommends buying the March 80-strike calls in Las Vegas Sands.