Asian casinos boom - Monday 30th of June 2008

Alan Silver returned from the G2E Asia conference in Macau, China, with a set of souvenir glass playing cards, hundreds of photos and the belief that the Asian casinos will surpass the revenue of United States casinos in a few years.

G2E held June 2-4, attracted about 175 exhibitors and thousands of visitors and presenters like Silver, the director of Casino Resorts Studies for Tulane University in Biloxi.

"The show was quite spectacular," he said, and featured Las Vegas-style glitz with six-foot-tall Asian models and celebrities.

Silver taught a casino customer service course to 100 executives, 75 percent of whom worked in Macau. The others came from Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. Many of the other presenters were people he would see at the Southern Gaming Summit.

"The Asians are really wanting to learn," he said, especially the young managers and employees. "These kids are educated. Theyre eager. They want to do a good job. A lot of them speak three languages."

He also participated in a future gambling panel and said analysts predict Asian gaming revenue will exceed $30 billion in 2011 and overtake the combined revenue of the United States casinos in 2012. In 2006, Macau saw a 23 percent increase in gambling revenues and another 47 percent in 2007.

He predicts casinos in Las Vegas and possibly even on the Coast will lose some of their high-end Asian players.

"Its going to be more convenient to go to Macau," he said, and some of the casinos have a seedier side. "Theres definitely a sex trade."

Gambling is "an accepted way of increasing ones fortune," Silver said. Compared to the 1.7 percent of American casino guests who are problem gamblers, he said "the Asians are about 3.7 percent. Theres interest in responsible gaming programs."

The Sands and Steve Wynn are the American players in Macau.

"Theres so much development there. I lost count after counting a couple hundred cranes," he said. "The old Macau is really transforming itself into the new Macau."

Silver stayed at the Venetian Macau, the largest casino resort there. He estimates the Venetians 550,000 square foot casino had at least 700 table games and 3,000 slots. He said the game of choice there is baccarat.

He said all the signs in Macau are in both Chinese and English, the trains are clean and safe and "just about everybody speaks English." Silver traveled to Macau to teach customer service but said, "Weve got a lot to learn about how theyve done customer service."

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