Bringing e-Sports or virtual reality (VR) games into casinos is a “meaningful” experiment in diversification for casino operators, even in the Macau context, where the city’s casinos are famous for a focus on gambling via traditional games, said Michael Zhu (pictured), senior vice president of international operations planning and analysis at The Innovation Group, a consultancy.
He acknowledge that diversification into digital forms of non-gambling entertainment might not be as lucrative for the casino operators.
Mr Zhu was speaking at a conference at MGS Entertainment Show 2018 in Cotai Expo at the Venetian Macao.
His topic was how operators of modern casino resorts were using new non-gaming attractions to differentiate their properties and their corporate branding.
“These can be a meaningful tryout for diversifying offerings at integrated resorts. It is at least a good option to spread risks,” said Mr Zhu. He was giving commentary on some local examples such as e-Sports and virtual reality games designed to appeal to so-called millennials – young adults born at the turn of the current century.
The Innovation Group is a U.S.-based firm that provides consulting and management services for the gaming, entertainment, hospitality, sports and leisure, food and beverage and retail industries.
“It is hard to attract [some] visitors with just the traditional amenities… we did a lot of surveys on this topic… for the millennials, they are not very interested in bricks-and-mortar gaming,” Mr Zhu remarked to us on the sidelines of the conference.
“We cannot just let this type of customer go… Even though financially, compared to gaming or other types of amenities, this [e-Sports or virtual reality games] is not as lucrative but the tryout is meaningful,” Mr Zhu added.
Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd launched in July at its Cotai property Studio City a new e-Sports venue branded as “Macau EStadium”, which has an area of 10,000 square feet (929 sq metres) and is to host multi-player tournaments and live streaming of e-Sports events taking place elsewhere. Studio City is also to feature “Asia’s largest virtual reality zone” – a project that is to be launched around the time of Chinese New Year next year, property president Geoff Andres told us in late July.
Rival operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd launched in late June a virtual reality gaming arena branded as “Zero Latency Macau” at Broadway Macau, in a 200-square-metre gaming zone featuring “zombie attacks, galaxy space missions and family fun adventures” that are for up to eight players at one time.
“With mass gaming gaining more importance and a rise in the number of tourists coming here [Macau], there are many new concepts that can be tried,” Mr Zhu remarked, referring to casino management efforts.
“… I think the most important thing is to integrate the [non-gaming] offerings with local elements, and make it a unique experience that cannot be found elsewhere.”
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”There are likely to be cancellations of some Chinese New Year casino and junket parties and events [in Macau]”
Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu
Sanford Bernstein analysts