The Chinese New Year weekend already rivals the Superbowl in Las Vegas. The Strip is increasingly Chinese ...

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as Vegas is a favourite destination for Asians, from groups of budget travellers to high-end gamblers who can individually have an impact on casino operations.

Gaming is part of the Asian culture, and eighty-five per cent of the high-rollers that play in Las Vegas come from mainland China, Taiwan, and Japan”, according to Italian researcher Sandra Galletti. Another researcher, Qing Han, adds: “Because of many Chinese gambling movies and TV dramas, in which Las Vegas was frequently featured as the final destination, the ultimate paradise, the ‘City of Gambling’, Las Vegas is very well known among the Chinese.” A study published by Bear Stearns market analysts

estimated that 3/4 of the Strip’s baccarat players come from Asia, “indicating that the health of Asian economies has a direct bearing on the bottom line of several Las Vegas casinos.” “Today, it is easy to spot a baccarat table in casinos

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throughout Las Vegas, and even smaller-scale local casinos are offering mini baccarat”, the most popular game among Chinese gamblers, notes Han. In 2010, baccarat players wagered $10.7 billion on the Strip, a 24 percent increase from 2009, making baccarat the only Nevada game that is growing in popularity and yield despite the economic downturn. Since 2010, baccarat has generated more revenue than blackjack, the most played table game in Nevada casinos. Casinos consider the Chinese New Year the best gambling weekend of the year, after the Super Bowl weekend, when thousands of Chinese come to Las Vegas to celebrate and gamble, “bringing thousands of domestic and international tourists to Las Vegas and generating millions of dollars in the city’s economy,

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particularly in gaming. The celebration of the holiday attracts higher-end customers from Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan who spend more than the average tourist, especially on casino floor games like baccarat”, wrote Han. Several properties have started to celebrate the holiday, particularly Caesars Palace, something they have been doing for 40 years now. That’s why former Asian regional marketing director for

Harrah’s Las Vegas Bill Chu stated 10 years ago: “Asians are the only growing segment of the casino market, and the Chinese are the only people in Asia with cash.” Amazed by the potential of the Chinese VIP market

(statistics show that in Las Vegas “losses [incurred] by the Chinese have been extraordinary”), some gambling companies have strategically placed executives in potential Asian markets, details Ms Galletti: “But these efforts will only be worthwhile if a prepared team is ready to properly serve these customers when they arrive at the casinos. Getting to the casino is one thing. Having a positive experience while there is another.” “With the increased recognition of the importance of

Chinese customers and their preferences, several changes have been made in recent years”, explains Qing Han, detailing some examples, such as the fact that the MGM Grand changed their main lion mouth entrance only a few years after building it, in order to avoid a Chinese bad luck symbol. Other properties have redesigned a large portion of casino floors, adding Chinese furniture. Caesars Entertainments imported carved wood from China to house hundreds of baccarat tables and Pai Gow poker, which is based on ancient Chinese domino games. Red is the dominant colour on the casino floor of the Encore Las Vegas. Butterfly patterns are everywhere, and floor numbers in the elevator panel from 40 to 49 are missing as a concession to Chinese superstition.


DECEMBER 2020 19

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