target Asian Americans
reported by North County Times
Business is booming for California's tribal casinos. National
Indian Gaming Commission figures show that revenue for
California tribal casinos ---- there are now 55 in the
state ---- doubled between 2001 and 2004 to more than
$5 billion a year.
to add more oomph to that boom, officials with several
local casinos are trying to attract even more business
by targeting particular ethnic groups when marketing their
casinos. First on the list for many marketers: finding
a way to maintain and boost the large population of Asian
Americans who gamble at their tables.
customers make up some 50 percent of the clientele at
& Casino, a large casino near the Riverside and
San Diego county lines, according to an official there.
And officials at two other area casinos, while hesitant
to specify how big a chunk of their business comes from
Asian Americans, acknowledge that Asian Americans do make
up a large part of their clientele.
no secret in the casino business Asians' love for gambling
and so we all have our own ways for going after that market,"
said Pechanga VIP host Richard Slack, who while not Asian
American speaks fluent Mandarin.
attract those coveted Asian-American customers, Pechanga
and at least two other area casinos are doing everything
from advertising in ethnic publications and hiring multilingual
hosts, to offering Asian-American entertainment and in
one case, redesigning parts of the casino with Asian themes.
Pechanga Vice President of Marketing Michelle Schilder
said last week that when the casino recently embarked
on a major upgrade of its high-stakes room, it brought
in a master of the Chinese art of feng shui to oversee
the project. Feng shui means "wind and water,"
and the ancient Chinese philosophy holds that the placement
of certain objects in a room and the way the space is
laid out can improve the flow of positive energy or "chi."
definitely wanted to be sure that we were right on the
dos and don'ts: the certain colors that mean bad luck
and the placement of certain things that are no-nos,"
Schilder said of the $4 million redesign project.
entrance to the 14,000-square-foot, high-stakes room is
guarded by pairs of fu dog statues, which many Chinese
believe to be powerful, protective forces that bring good
fortune. Earth tones dominate the room, table edges are
all rounded and a waterfall provides a soothing soundscape
to those who are betting a minimum of $100 a hand on games
like pai gow poker or blackjack.
said he regularly gives sensitivity lessons to casino
employees on Asian cultures, even teaching them a few
key expressions in Mandarin and other Asian languages.
customers really appreciate it," Slack said.
of the cultural customs employees have learned about is
the Chinese custom of tapping one's fingers on the table
as a way of saying thank you to servers.
also regularly features pop music stars and other artists
from Asian countries. Filipino pop star Gary V, for example,
recently performed to a packed house at the casino's 1,200-capacity
theater, said Ciara Coyle, public relations manager.
Other local casinos also target Asian-American guests
with their entertainment choices.
Nov. 6, Harrah's
Rincon Casino & Resort in Valley Center had a
Vietnamese show titled "Paris by Night." The
casino has been holding shows with Vietnamese artists
for the past couple of years and a Chinese concert is
scheduled for the coming weeks, said casino public relations
manager Sheryl Sebastian.
added that in the past year, casino officials have even
started setting up prize wheels at Asian street fairs
and festivals around Southern California, giving away
prizes to winners and providing promotional information
on the casino.
what percentage of the casino's business is made up of
Asian Americans, she said: "That is proprietary information
and we can't really share that."
acknowledged however, that Asian Americans are the one
group for which the casino has a specific marketing strategy.
definitely are an important target audience," Sebastian
has a dedicated Asian host team with members who are fluent
in Mandarin, Cantonese and Vietnamese. The casino also
runs advertisements in Asian-American publications, she
Casino Spa Resort's Chief Executive Officer Jerry
Turk on Friday called the Asian-American market an important
one for his business, although he declined to say how
big a portion of the casino's business Asian Americans
said that Pala
also advertises in Asian-American newspapers and has billboards
in Asian-American communities in the Los Angeles area.
The casino also has a team of bilingual hosts and often
features Asian entertainers, he added.
casinos also all have business arrangements with tourist
agencies in the region that bus Asian Americans to their
Although Asian Americans are great for casino business,
studies show that gambling is a widespread problem for
Asian-American communities throughout the state, one that
some health experts say may be growing due to the easy
access of casinos and their marketing efforts to reach
studies in recent years appear to show a high incidence
of problem gambling within Asian-American communities
in California. A 1997 study by the NICOS Chinese Health
Coalition in San Francisco found that as much as 21 percent
of the Chinese community in that city could be identified
as pathological gamblers, and that 16 percent of those
surveyed identified themselves as pathological gamblers.
study by the same organization conducted in the same year
surveyed 1,808 Chinese American adults in San Francisco.
Respondents were asked to list what they thought were
the greatest problems facing their community. At the top
of the list was gambling, with 69.6 percent of respondents
identifying gambling as a problem in the community.
official with Chinese-American social-service organization
Chinatown Service Center, based in Los Angeles, said Friday
that early each morning, charter buses begin lining up
along Garvey Avenue in the city of Monterey Park in the
San Gabriel Valley, a city where Asian Americans make
up 64 percent of the population. As soon as they fill
up with passengers, the buses depart for casinos in Riverside
and San Diego counties, he said.
while the easy access to casinos does put more people
at risk of problem gambling behavior, Chinatown Service
Center Executive Director Lawrence J. Lue said it would
be a mistake to blame casinos for simply following good
solution lies in finding the resources to educate people
about problem gambling, and "supporting them in correcting
the problem," Lue said.
Gambling Studies Program is currently conducting a survey
of about 500 randomly selected adults in Asian-American
communities in greater Los Angeles to try and measure
the extent of problem gambling among members of those
communities. The study is expected to be completed by
June, said program co-director and psychiatrist Timothy
Thursday, the program held a symposium on the issue with
health care professionals, local community leaders and
his presentation, Fong said that as a result of the increasing
availability of legalized gambling in the state, "there
is an increasing number of problem and pathological gamblers
that have come to the attention of mental health professionals
and community service providers."
went on to say that Asians and Pacific Islanders make
up one of the most vulnerable groups for developing problems
related to gambling.
you have more access (to casinos), then more pathological
gamblers are the natural result," Fong said Friday.
stressed, however, that he doesn't blame casinos for trying
to attract more Asians, since casinos are simply going
where the market is.
(about) personal responsibility; we all have the ability
to say 'Yes' or 'No,' " Fong said, so he would not
favor penalizing or trying to restrict casinos in any
as a society, we need to focus on prevention and treatment,
and "raise awareness of problem gambling's signs,
symptoms and consequences," Fong said.
Manor casino-hotel in play
reported by The Morning Call
Pennsylvania - A 25-story hotel and casino is the centerpiece
of a proposed $1.2 billion entertainment and gambling
complex at the Pocono Manor resort in Monroe County, the
project developer said Wednesday.
built, the 750-room glass-enclosed facility would be the
tallest building in the Poconos.
Cahill, a vice president of Matzel Development of Oakhurst,
N.J., detailed plans during a Tobyhanna Township hearing
on ordinance changes to allow construction of the 1-million-square-foot
gambling resort. The 370-acre site is on Pocono Manor
property adjoining Interstate 380 and Route 940.
Development, which filed the petition under Pocono Manor
Investors L.P., is seeking changes in, among other things,
height restrictions, signs and parking before the Dec.
28 deadline to submit applications to the Pennsylvania
Gaming Control Board.
have to submit a comprehensive application which requires
that zoning be in place," said Marc Wolfe, a Stroudsburg
attorney representing Matzel. At 25 stories, the proposed
hotel/casino is taller than the Foxwoods
Resort in Massachusetts, said Cahill, and would dwarf
every building in the four-county Pocono region.
announcement comes a day after Aztar Corp. revealed plans
for a $525 million gambling and entertainment complex
in east Allentown. Five projects in all, three in the
Poconos and two in the Lehigh Valley, are vying for the
two stand-alone slots licenses available under the state's
new gaming legislation. Stand-alone licenses allow for
3,000 to 5,000 slot machines.
Monroe County proposals, including a $200 million hotel/casino
at Mount Airy Lodge near Mount Pocono and a $300 million
project at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, will compete with
the Aztar plan for Allentown and Las Vegas Sands Corp.'s
BethWorks Now proposal for an $879 million complex at
the former Bethlehem Steel site in south Bethlehem.
announced as a $3 billion project, the first phase of
Matzel Development's plan will cost $1.2 billion and include
the hotel and casino, a 300,000-square-foot retail and
restaurant plaza, a 50,000-square-foot convention center,
a 20,000-square-foot spa, an 1,800-seat indoor theater
and an 18-hole golf course all wrapped around a 12-acre
lake. Plans for a water park have been eliminated.
project, which is estimated to create 4,000 permanent
jobs, eventually also could include an intermodal center
to allow for passenger rail service to New York City.
No service currently exists, though an active freight
rail line cuts across Pocono Manor property. Pennsylvania
and New Jersey are negotiating a $300 million plan to
expand New Jersey Transit rail service through the Poconos.
Manor, built in 1902, is a National Historic Landmark.
More than 3,000 wooded acres surround the 257-room resort.
eventually plans a second phase solely dependent on the
Legislature approving table games. Currently, there are
no plans before the Legislature to go beyond slot-machine
gambling. Phase 2 development would include another hotel,
convention center, condominiums and single-family homes.
solicitor Emanuel Kapelsohn did not announce a date for
a supervisors' vote on the proposed ordinance changes,
but several residents voiced concerns about the plan,
particularly the height of the casino/hotel and the impact
on local traffic.
township supervisors and Planning Commission members favor
the plan, Kapelsohn said, especially because financial
projections indicate an annual $5.7 million windfall for
the township. In addition, Monroe County could receive
as much as $8.7 million per year, while the Pocono Mountain
School District could reap $16 million. The complex could
generate an additional $115 million annually for the state,
proposal depends on the purchase of the Pocono Manor property,
which was described as "imminent."
the sale of a large commercial property, you have to make
sure you dot your I's and cross your T's," Wolfe
Development President Greg Matzel said last week that
the plan depends on winning a stand-alone slots license.
hired Dennis Gomes, a gaming industry veteran, to help
secure a license and manage the facility. Gomes previously
served as president of several casinos, including the
Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and the Golden
Nugget in Las Vegas.