Research Library

Macau: The Future Beyond the VIP

Fifteen years ago, on May 18, 2004, Las Vegas Sands Corp. opened Sands Macao and changed the course of casino gaming in the region.

Macau was once considered a secondary gaming market that catered to a small base of customers from Hong Kong and Guangdong, China. However, Sands Macao and subsequent entrants demonstrated that by providing high-quality gaming, dining and lodging environments, markets will respond.

In the case of Macau, markets responded enthusiastically. In 2005, the city’s casinos generated $5.9 billion in gaming revenue, and by 2018, the industry had generated $37.9 billion.

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Rethinking Food & Beverage

Of all the issues facing casino leadership, there is no greater quandary than solving the food & beverage equation. Restaurants in particular, present a host of issues. They are notoriously expensive to operate, consuming copious amounts of labor and product costs. Rarely do individual outlets post a profit and departmental profit is often dependent on beverage sales. High levels of customer satisfaction can be difficult to achieve, given that many players visit the same restaurant outlets on each visit, and in turn get bored with the menu selection. Perhaps the hardest aspect is balancing the needs of very frequent players while using food & beverage as a tool to attract new customers. Given all this, it may be time for casino operators to rethink their food & beverage programs.

Both commercial casinos in regional markets and Indian casino operators have historically adopted the same basic restaurant strategies, offering a buffet, three-meal room, quick-serve outlet and perhaps a more upscale steakhouse/ special occasion restaurant. Before undertaking a wholesale redesign of food & beverage outlets, it is important to understand how this basic suite of restaurant products came to be and then ask if those products meet the needs of the business and the preferences of today’s customers.

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Crystal Ball Gazing

Predicting the future of any industry has always been an inexact science. It requires an examination of historical trends, possible changes in public policy, the application of a variety of macro-economic theories, the unlikely entry of a disruption industry that could emerge as a worthy competitor, and a substantial amount of guesswork.

The problem is, when it comes to Macau, more often than not the soothsayers have been unable to predict the future.

When predictions are made, word spreads quickly. The number of media outlets devoted to the casino industry has increased and amplified the distribution of news. Casinos are now part of
the 24-hour news cycle; the industry has its own forums, dedicated writers and avid readership.

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The Importance of Data in Sports Betting

As sports betting expands into new markets within the United States, operators and state governments are growing eager to capitalize on the opportunity.

In addition to Nevada, seven states now offer some form of sports betting in the post-PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) world. This number will likely grow as 2019 continues to unfold, as a supermajority of states plan to look into the opportunity for sports betting within their borders. Global Market Advisors has previously estimated the sports betting market at $139 billion, but that figure is contingent on how the market is crafted in each state.

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The Road to Sports Betting

When the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) last May, casino operators across the United States were euphoric, envisioning crowds of enthusiastic bettors flocking to newly constructed sports betting lounges, holding exciting events during major games, and attracting a younger clientele to
their properties. Several states moved quickly to permit sports betting in some form. While casinos in some states were able to quickly build betting counters and initiate sports betting
activities, most others, particularly in Indian gaming, have come to realize that they must first navigate through a maze of obstacles before taking their first bet.

Sports betting is currently available in some form in eight states: Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New Mexico. Each of these states offers some form of sports wagering, but the products offered and where bets can be made vary by state.

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Research Brief: Education on Sports Betting

Since the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”) by the U.S. Supreme Court, seven states have legalized and launched sports betting. These states include Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and New Mexico, in addition to Nevada which has been operating legally for decades. Each state has tailored their own sports betting regulations to meet their unique market dynamics. While some states have not instituted the most ideal tax rates or structures, these states are adding a new revenue source to their existing gaming and lottery product.

Nearly 30 states have introduced sports betting related language as of the writing of this brief, and others are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks and months as they look either to pass legislation or to study the opportunity that sports betting could provide to their state. Many of these states have already started to hold hearings or are continuing the debate from last year. As these states continue these conversations, they should take two things into consideration. The first is that integrity, first and foremost, is upheld in the legislation and regulations that are established for sports betting. It is never in a fee or royalty that is paid to anyone that is not taking the risk of operating a sports book. Second, there should be no rush to enter the market, as first-to-market status has already been achieved. At this point, it should be about taking the time to get things right by creating a robust, competitive market in a strict regulatory environment.

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Sports Betting Across America: A 2019 Legislative Preview

As 2019 begins, states across the country are looking at their legislative agendas. Every state’s legislature will meet in 2019 and there will be several issues that will be discussed,some of which will revolve around gaming and lottery. One thing that will likely be discussed in every state is the potential for sports betting. This is an important opportunity for state lotteries to expand their portfolio of games and connect with the next generation of players.

Many states are assessing the expansion opportunities for the lottery. This may include the use of video lottery terminals, iLottery, or other forms to sell their existing products through the internet, kiosks, or other means. The potential for sports betting to enhance funding for good causes is another option that many Lottery Directors across the country are hoping their state legislators are considering. Commercial casino and online gaming operators also recognize the economic potential of sports betting, and are lobbying state legislators to implement a license-and-regulate model that would enable them to offer sports betting.

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Lessons from the Casino Industry

The casino gaming industry has long been perceived as a competitor to state lotteries. While it can be argued that the country’s adult population has a limited budget for all kinds of wagering, lotteries and casinos have, in fact, long operated in harmony. Casino expansion across the United States has not impeded growth of lotteries and lotteries did not affect the growth of casino gaming. The reality is that lotteries and casinos do not so much compete as share gamers. People buy scratch cards and draw tickets from budgets that are exclusive of casino gaming budgets. This is most evident during periodic events of lottery frenzy, when mega-jackpots attract widespread consumer and media interest. In those states that offer both casino gaming and lotteries, casino gambling does not decline during mega-jackpot events.

Both industries have grown but for different reasons. State and provincial lotteries continue to introduce new games and improve merchandising at the point of purchase. Lotteries also continue to expand their channels of distribution, signing up new retailers, and increasing the number of vending machine locations. Casino operators also continue to introduce new games, primarily electronic, and enhance their gaming environments. They also employ a variety of marketing strategies that are mostly unavailable to, or have never been considered by, state lotteries. Nonetheless, there are valuable lessons that lottery operators can learn from the casino gaming industry – in particular, customer engagement and customer relationship management.

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