Las Vegas casinos are winning over big spenders from other regions

Gamblers from the Far East are some of the highest wagering players in Las Vegas, and annually make up a large portion of casino revenues from table games like baccarat.

But as the pneumonia-like illness known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome has spread through the Far East, the thought of contracting the illness through travel — even First Class — is one game not
worth playing.

“People don’t want to be on a plane with 300 others for 14 hours and potentially be exposed to the virus,” Harry Hagerty, chief financial officer of Park Place Entertainment Corp., said in a recent interview explaining a slowness in foreign business he attributed to SARS.

Like other casino operators, No. 1 Las Vegas casino owner Park Place, which owns Caesars Palace, has felt an extra dip in revenues in what is normally a slow spring season.

U.S. authorities have also been giving fewer visas to foreigners for fear of SARS, hoteliers say. John Marz, senior vice president at Mandalay Resort Group, which owns the Mandalay Bay Resort Casino, said that was one reason for a slowdown.

“Hong Kong is virtually crippled,” and customers were staying home, Marz said.

China, Taiwan and Singapore had also been affected in the last 20 days or so, he said.

He said Mandalay could compensate for the drop with special events, like a recent prize boxing match, and by focusing marketing efforts on domestic and South American high-end business.


Casino operator MGM Mirage, which owns the swanky Bellagio hotel and claims two-thirds of the market for international high rollers, is betting that a big tournament of baccarat, a card game favored by high stakes players, will attract Asian gamblers in June.

So far reservations from the hundreds invited for the tournament are not behind the usual pace, said MGM spokeswoman Yvette Monet, but overall business is slower, she added. 파워볼사이트

“There has been a modest decrease in visits from Asia, and we believe that is due to the soft global economy aggravated among other factors by the outbreak of SARS in the last couple of months,” she said.

MGM holds regular tournaments of baccarat and has had the June tournament scheduled for some time. In the end, MGM is sure the casino will win in the long run.

“We have faced larger issues than SARS, and the industry has proven itself very durable,” said Monet.

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