The Game is On Atlantic City Taps into the Asian Market

Atlantic City casinos are investing tens of millions of dollars to attract gamblers. And a portion of this investment is going towards attracting the Asian market. With so many opportunities, the economic downturn, and convenient transportation from the three major ‘Chinatowns’ of New York’s five boroughs, Atlantic City continues to bring the foot traffic to its world class casinos.

Many visitors to Atlantic City admittedly come solely to gamble. The success of Atlantic City’s casinos with Asian gamblers hasn’t gone unnoticed. On a recent Saturday night, Tony Wong played a few hands of baccarat at Caesar’s, then headed to the casino arena to catch a Taiwanese singing sensation. To Mr. Wong’s surprise, the midnight concert was sold out. “Wow, so many Asians!” said Wong, 41, a Hong Kong native and diamond specialist who lives in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The overflowing crowd was no surprise to Caesar’s. Along with other casinos here, it is intently courting Asians — the country’s fastest-growing gambling market. This particular night, it had boosted its offerings of Asian table games, such as Pai Gow tiles; asked every dealer who speaks an Asian language to work, and saw
overflow crowds at its Asian restaurant.

Asian gamblers contribute a significant percent of Atlantic City casinos’ revenue every year. The battle for Asian gamblers, who tend to play more frequently and gamble larger stakes than other ethnic groups, is happening nationally. The number of tourists traveling from Asia to Las Vegas is dropping as Far East gaming meccas such as Macau open. So, Las Vegas and other American casino cities are turning to Asians who live in the United States. The Tropicana, which recently began running 15 buses from New York, anticipates a 20 to 25 percent uptick in table-game revenue from Asian gamblers. Among the bus regulars is Judy Lin, a native of Xinjiang in northern China. Ms. Lin said she had learned about the Tropicana from Chinese friends in Queens who have made frequent trips to Atlantic City. “I like it here. I feel very comfortable,” Lin, 35, said in Mandarin as she played mini-baccarat at the Tropicana’s Jade Palace.

To assure that level of comfort, the casinos are hiring feng shui consultants, requiring that their dealers get cultural coaching and scheduling concerts as late as 1 a.m. because many Asian customers own businesses in New York and Philadelphia that stay open until 8 p.m. So much research is going into bringing more Asians to casinos nationally, along with targeted advertising towards the Asian Community.