Business / Industries

Asian casinos woo Chinese as corruption drive hits Macao

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-03-23 07:59

Gamblers who bet at least $50,000 at Paradise's casinos qualify for freebies usually available only to VIP players, Lee said. In Macao, the minimum needed to get similar perks from junket operators is about $500,000, according to CLSA data. The company also draws Chinese gamblers to the celebrity-obsessed country by touting its pop culture and offering recommendations of top South Korean plastic surgeons, Lee said.

It is illegal for foreign companies to advertise casino operations in China and Paradise avoids public solicitations, said Lee, vice-chairman of Paradise.

Its staff reaches out to highstakes gamblers recommended by existing customers and makes frequent trips to major Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, he added.

Companies are able to sidestep the mainland's ban on casino marketing by advertising non-gaming aspects such as a concert or entertainment show held on its venue, said Grant Govertsen, an analyst at Union Gaming Group in Macao.

Manila's members-only Signature Club in Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd's City of Dreams casino has entrance signs in both English and Chinese, while Mandarin-speaking staff direct guests to cashiers, shops, and restaurants. The neighboring Solaire Resort and Casino owned by Bloomberry Resorts Corp has suckling pig and Peking duck on the menu, catering to Chinese palates.

"There are a lot of excuses to go to the Philippines; we always promote the Philippines not on the casino but the whole package," Cristino Naguiat, chairman at gaming regular Philippine Amusement& Gaming Corp, said.

"Even with the crackdown in China, we still had higher volume in terms of gross gaming revenue and in terms of junket and VIPs," he said last month in Manila.

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