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  • Writer's pictureJHON REYMOND camba

What Asia's high rollers like to play

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

A high roller, also referred to as a whale or cheetah, is a gambler who consistently wagers large amounts of money. High rollers often receive lavish "comps" from casinos to lure them onto the gambling floors, such as free private jet transfers, limousine use and use of the casinos' best suites. Casinos may also extend credit to a player to continue betting, offer rebates on betting turnover or losses, and salaries of employees may also contain incentive arrangements to bring in high rollers.

While high rollers may not provide a significant portion of the revenues in the casino industry as a whole, they can have a major effect on the net income of casinos that cater to them. There are significant costs associated with attracting the highest-stakes gamblers, so if a casino takes this risk and the high roller wins, the casino's expenses can be extremely large. Likewise, if the casino's investment pays off and the high roller loses, the casino's gain can far exceed its expenses for the high roller's visit.

Related to high rollers are "low rollers", a loosely defined term whose meaning changes with context. This can be anything from a casino regular patron who nevertheless wagers very low amounts of money - perhaps just enough to participate in casino loyalty programs and "comps" - to any average low-spending tourist.

MANILA, Philippines – Casino operators across the globe are relying on big-time gamblers, particularly from Asia, to play a certain type of game. And that game is not blackjack, but baccarat, a card game that primarily relies on luck and chance. “It’s played all over the world but for [high rollers of] Asia, it’s very, very popular. More than anywhere else in the world,” Dennis Andreaci, senior vice president for gaming operations of the newly opened Solaire resort and casino, told journalists and bloggers during a media preview of the property last week. “The VIP customers in Asia like to play baccarat. They bet very big money.”Not citing figures, Andreaci added that baccarat has surpassed all the other casino games in terms of revenue in top gambling hotspots such as Macau, Singapore and Las Vegas. He said that some Asian high-rollers spend HK$3 million (around P15.7 million) for a game of baccarat, and is expecting a similar reception from customers who will visit their newly opened property. “Those amounts are not offered [to ordinary customers], strictly speaking. Individual customers, the very, very big customers, if you want them to come in here, then you talk to them personally and they tell you how much they want to bet. You negotiate with that, like ‘okay, how long do you want to stay? We can send airplanes to pick you up.’ It’s more than just a table maximum. It’s the experience,” he explained. “There are no maximums for the VIP area,” he said. “It all depends on how much the customers want to spend.”

Top gaming market

“In Asia, the big players are very serious. So you don’t see at the VIP gaming table in Asia, for instance, people drinking while they’re playing. They don’t do that because the gaming is serious. In Las Vegas, they’ll say, ‘give me another beer.’ It’s a party, it’s a different kind of mentality, a different kind of customer,” he explained.“Definitely the most lucrative market. The No. 1 gaming market in the world financially is Macau, No. 2 is Singapore,” he added. Given this, Andreaci said they were extra careful in designing Solaire to avoid “bad luck” as believed by the Chinese. “So we don’t put anything here that the customer may think is bad luck. We want those customers who believe in superstition to say ‘I’m going to like it here, I’m going to win.’ We want them to be happy and comfortable,” he said. VIP treatment

Meanwhile, Solaire’s vice president for business development and gaming services Lorraine Koo gave members of the media a sneak peek into the lives of Asia’s high-rollers by showing them their VIP area. Located at the second floor of Solaire, the VIP area is only accessible to guests who join the casino’s specialized program. “In order to play up here, you need to join a program. You need a certain amount of buy in. Unlike on the main gaming floor that when you buy, you earn points, here, you need a prerequisite buy in. Solaire's private VIP gaming area offers a view of the Manila Bay.

Koo said what Solaire offers matches the standards of casinos in Macau and Singapore. “Very exclusive treatment. If you’re a big enough player, we fly you in by private jet. You get picked up at our own private jet terminal, and after which we have our own escort by our company limousine. Or sometimes, we use our own helicopter. We have our own helicopter landing pad to fly you down to the property itself,” she said. “At the moment, we are targeting primarily guests from the Asia Pacific region, not anything more than six to eight hours perimeter from Manila.

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