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“Some of London’s plushest casinos are feeling the pinch after last “Zaia was probably the biggest
year’s triple whammy of a duty hike, smoking ban and the scrapping investment in terms of a single
of high-jackpot machines. I hear strong whispers that Fifty, the private event. It’s all part of really changing
members club in St James, is thinking about closing or selling its what Macau is all about. The non-
loss-making casino. The suggestion is that the venue, a joint venture gaming revenues are there to be
between the American-owned London Clubs International and Robert
had, but of course all of this
Earl, the Planet Hollywood entrepreneur, would focus exclusively on its
supports the whole tourism, whether
bars and restaurants.” Dominic Walsh of the Times Online City
it’s room sales, whether it’s casino
Diary speculates on the future of Fifty.
sales. We don’t isolate and say this
is just a revenue centre in and of
itself. It’s there to support the other
revenue centers.”
Bradley Stone, executive vice
COMMENT
president of Las Vegas Sands on
the $150m Cirque du Soleil
opening at the Venetian Macau.
Capitalising on
Does the industry do enough to promote
mass market
itself? Not according to Steven Jackson,
of Sports Recruitment International, who
movements
explains why the UK casino sector needs
to lay outdated notions to rest.
The Chinese are natural capitalists, a millennia-old fact
that has managed to survive almost 60 years of
Communism. Hugh Sorrill speculates as to how this
may affect the path to mass market gaming in Macau.
erated by high-end players at the bac-
carat tables often playing on credit
through junkets, with the long-estab-
Industry needs to re-educate
lished, and dare one say old-fashioned,
casinos still attracting a good number
of long-established and old-fashioned the masses and the media
players. But the mass segment is
growing, possibly faster even than the
high-end. For operators the best kind timeforabreak that a supermarket is more likely to made no significant impact on the
of markets are those based on high FIRST PERSON cause problems than a casino. statistics for problem gambling and
volume and low exposure, plus some Professor Collins of Salford Uni- these results have been replicated
VIP action to keep things interesting. When was the last time you read a versity comments that the overall in many gaming jurisdictions
With continuing growth in the mass positive piece of news about the harm caused by excessive gambling throughout the world.
risingsun market, this is the kind of business that casino industry? I for one am is actually likely to diminish by the The independent Newham Advi-
VIEWPOINT the newer entrants to the market, like tempted to say never. Despite the introduction of casinos, not least sory Panel “concluded the evidence
Las Vegas Sands, Wynn and MGM fact that casinos can advertise, due to their ability to publicise serv- strongly suggests that a casino
China has changed Communism far Grand are achieving and with lucrative market and promote their busi- ices to help problem gamblers. would not increase crime, prostitu-
more than Communism has changed results. So their ambitious develop- nesses; public perception has never This viewpoint is supported by tion, anti-social behaviour… or the
China: the extreme repression and ment projects, which represent billions been lower. With the furore and con- Jon Ladd, Chief Executive of the levels of problem gambling... It is
monocultural ambitions of the first four of dollars of investment, should still fusion over the ‘super casino’, the British Urban Regeneration Associa- our unanimous view that a casino
decades have given way in the last two find plenty of demand. industry has been used as a political tion (BURA). When asked if there is a would be likely to bring regenera-
to economic expansion and individual In the US and some other jurisdic- football by the press and politicians, form of gambling which creates the tion benefits… without significant
wealth creation as fast as has ever tions, mass market means machines – who have criticised it to the extent most problem gamblers, he stated risk of detriment.”
been seen, despite the one party’s iron but that is not the case in Macau. That that damaging, sensationalist myths that casinos generate the lowest The crux of the issue is the gulf
grip on political power. But then (and in tables will continue to dominate in have been lodged firmly in the number and that even where more between the evidence and public
no way to diminish the argument about there for the foreseeable future is psyche of the great British public. casinos have been built, the number opinion, but more importantly, there is
the human rights record in China) the almost not worth saying but machine To quote the Newham Research of problem gamblers has reduced methodology by which the industry
country has also only ever known gaming is growing: from mere hun- Panel, the public see casinos as the because greater effort has been can change the public’s perception.
authoritarian styles of government, a dreds of slot machines in Macau a few home of ‘crime; prostitution; anti- devoted to specialist counselling We are fighting for the hearts and
situation that has pushed its citizens to years ago to many thousands now social behaviour… and problem and advisory services. minds of the British public. Despite
find different ways of expressing their says a lot for operators’ desire to gambling.’ The British Gambling Prevalence the great quantities of independent
individuality and freedom, including educate players in how to use them These are not advantageous views Survey 2007 stated there had been verified evidence supported by the
testing one’s worth against fate. but it is a job of work. There is report- for their potential customers or no increase in problem gambling, police, businesses and academic
The casinos of Macau are the only edly a large number of machines that political masters to hold. They which had remained constant at studies alike, together with the new
(legal) outlet for that instinct and as all operators bought and have not restrict casinos in licence applica- approximately 0.6 per cent of the promotional ability brought about
the operators in the territory have dis- managed to get out on to the gaming tions, in attracting new customers population, since it was last released by the 2005 Gambling Act, the indus-
covered, there is a huge appetite for it floor, a small saving at least when it and lobbying and influencing the in 1999. In fact, the highest percent- try still seems to be ineffectual when
from an ever growing class of frankly comes to furnishing the new places. government. Yet they are far from age of problem gambling appeared changing the general public’s over-
wealthy people from the People’s All companies selling slots to opera- blameless, and at the very least par- in spread betting - 14.7 per cent, riding negative perception.
Republic, Hong Kong and other tors in Macau now know that they have tially responsible for the situation FOBT’s 11.2 per cent and betting The requirement for strong
growing economies in the region. to offer players themes that will inspire they now find themselves in. exchanges 9.8 per cent. Once again, talent is paramount to drive the
There is a principle that some jurisdic- play and games in Chinese. Because Are we, the casino industry, the evidence suggests casinos are casino industry forward.The mar ket
tions apply when deciding whether to players there are driven by tradition, ashamed of what we do or frightened the safest form of gambling there is. needs to recruit a new breed of
award casino licences that says that superstition and the hand of fate, sig- of the spotlight that maybe placed Furthermore casino staff are high calibre individuals who are
you should allow just enough provi- nificant amounts have been spent on upon us? I think we are seeing and trained to spot problem gamblers, passionate to the cause across all
sion to satisfy demand. The developing games that focus on auspi- feeling the consequences of our inac- they offer the opportunity for self areas of the business including mar-
Macanese government believes that cious colours, symbols and numbers tion already and the longer these opin- exclusion, have well developed keting, PR, business development
point is nearly here and, as reported and avoid those considered bad luck: ions propagate unchallenged, the and effective CSR programmes, and management. The industry
last month, has put a moratorium on in China there’s no such thing as Lucky more difficult the task will become. are tightly regulated and have needs to take advantage not just of
the development of more casinos Number 7 - but Number 8 is about as The fact that only three per cent strong links with organisations industry specific professionals but
beyond those already under con- good as it gets. Red, gold and dragons of the adult population have such as Gamcare. consider those with transferable
struction or already approved. are all good too. But a four-leafed entered a casino, means that the Casinos are part of the solution, skill sets who can bring an alterna-
But the market is complicated: the clover is viewed as rather a dangerous other 97 per cent have formed their not the problem. They are multifac- tive perspective to the industry and
end of Stanley Ho’s complete monop- thing; the word for four - sì - is almost views based upon the misinforma- eted entertainment venues and a range of experience.
oly on casino gaming in 2000 has homonymous with the word for death. tion I am describing. gaming is only part of the complete As individuals, as casino opera-
allowed provision to grow swiftly and There isn’t a particularly clear path In the UK, Detective Chief Super- leisure experience they offer. tors and as an industry we have an
impressively. Competition has made for to tread for the big slot companies: intendent Nick Bracken states that Many international studies have opportunity and responsibility to
a much healthier market - even though they need to invest in game develop- there is minimal direct crime associ- been conducted concluding that counter-act this opinion and form a
Ho naturally still holds tremendous ment, but the potential for sales is ated with casinos because they are casinos have no negative effects united co-ordinated front to defend
sway - but the different styles and not as great as they would hope. But well regulated. He also said there is and actually often create positive ourselves. We have an opportunity
venues on offer are also changing the then they have to remind themselves no evidence of links to prostitution. consequences. One such example and responsibility to make our
market expectations of players. that this is Asia and things are done This is supported by the borough is a New Zealand study; between industry as successful as I believe it
The best headline revenues are gen- differently here. Commander of Newham who said 1999-2004, it found that casinos can and should be.
18 July 2008 • comment
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