Casino

The China Syndrome: Why the PRC’s impact on gaming throughout Asia is dependent upon many issues

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to emerge as an economic and political superpower in the world, and its actions have a direct influence on the gaming market in Asia. This goes
well beyond the borders of Macau, SAR (Special Administrative Region) that nearly 20 years ago opened up for the first time to foreign casino operators beyond Stanley Ho’s monopoly.

The reach of the PRC permeates both economically and politically into key emerging markets such as the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Korea, and other markets throughout the Far East (including Northeast and Southeast Asia).

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Social Safeguards: How Singapore set a new standard in addressing responsible gambling

As Singapore continues to serve as the model for IR development, it has also become one of the current models to address the promotion of responsible gaming measures and casino exclusion policies for its two integrated resorts.

At the time of inception, these cutting-edge initiatives allowed for a different model for individuals to be excluded from the casino, limited the floor size of the facilities, created a publicentity to promote responsible gaming efforts, and created partnerships with operators to work with the government in creating an environment of responsible gaming. It also introduced a casino levy for locals with the option of a daily or yearly fee.

The two operators in the market, Las Vegas Sands (Marina Bay Sands) and Genting Singapore (Resorts World Sentosa), initially had to develop internal responsible gaming education and training programs. These initiatives have continued to evolve over the course of time as more research has become available and the market has matured. The programs include an initial and annual training that offers employees the ability to understand the signs of problem gambling, as well as how to respond and support a guest. It also includes support in the form of high level specialists that offer a higher level of knowledge on responsible gaming measures and how best to handle a guest that may need further assistance.

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The Evolving Casino Marketing Landscape

Twenty years ago, there was much talk in the gaming industry of how to engage GenXers, and the potential value of this segment. As GenX is only now becoming a meaningful contributor to the industry, this conversation has now evolved into the current hype around millennials.

What allowed GenXers to become gamers is simple: they began to acquire the two key items that people need to gamble—time and money. As millennials age, we will see them gravitate toward casinos gaming as well. While the demographics of casino participation have been little changed for a generation, there have been material changes in products, channels and, importantly, methods of engaging with casino patrons.

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Rethinking the Premium Players Lounge

Premium player lounges have become a fixture in many casinos in North America. These lounges provide higher worth players with a place to take a break from the gaming floor, catch up on text messages, and sit in a relaxed, non-gaming environment. They also offer hosts a place to connect with their customers. At some properties, the lounge may provide players with some form of food offering, yet rarely, if ever have they been considered part of a casino’s food & beverage strategy. In fact, in most player lounges food is treated as an afterthought, usually comprised of packaged snack foods or some items from the central kitchen that, after sitting out for a couple of hours, have lost their gastronomic appeal.

What is rarely recognized is that the premium players’ lounge, properly designed and maintained, can help the casino property provide its best customers with precisely the kinds of dining that they prefer for their everyday gaming experiences while reducing comp expense and the time gamblers spend off the gaming floor.

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Research Brief: Japan IR Timeline Update

Late last month, many stakeholders following the Japan Integrated Resort process believed they were thrown a curve ball, following reports stating that the process would be delayed by a year without the appointment of the Casino Management Commission and other cabinet and ministerial positions. However, the delay will likely not be as long as initially thought but would only be a minor delay in the marathon for integrated resorts in Japan.

First and foremost, this process is still in its infancy. While stalwarts of the process have been trying to get legislation passed for over twenty years, the race continues to move at a moderate pace as the government begins its official process to form the Commission and the 300-plus items that still need to be officially decided. It was thought that the Commission would likely be appointed before the end of the current regular session of the Diet. However, this part of the process has been delayed because of the upcoming elections that have been planned for the Upper House of the Diet. While it has not been confirmed that a double election would occur in July 2019, there is also the potential that a snap election in the Lower House could be held at the same time.

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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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