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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Plain and Simple

Capital New York has more on baccarat, the casino card game that Genting is planning to fly Asian high rollers from around the world to play at their Sterling Forest casino in Tuxedo.  They told the Location Board at their oral presentation that they plan to derive 45% of their revenue from international customers by the time the Meadowlands would get a casino off the ground.  So, they don't really care about all of the local competition that is saturating the region.  They have a global market.  They are trying to tell us that they're not really competing against the local market....and that not only will they not be adversely affected by the competition, but that they won't cannibalize them too much either.  Not everyone is buying that.

Alan Woinski, an independent gambling consultant, thinks Genting's new argument has some merit, but doubts it will address competitors' concerns.

“Yeah, they’ll fly some of their high rollers in from Asia and from their other markets,” he said.

But, he said, “They’re trying to make the case that they aren’t going to completely cannibalize anything else in the area. They’re lying.” [Capital New York]
Still, Woinski opines: “If I had to tell you what would be the most successful casino in New York it would definitely be the one that caters to Asians."  That's because, according to the article, nearly a quarter of the $6.5 billion generated by Las Vegas casinos last year came from baccarat tables.

So, what is this game that is so appealing (at least to Asian players)?  I did a little research, and it's a very plain and simple game with very little in the way of decision making.  In fact, the 'mini-baccarat' games in particular seem more like betting on a coin toss.  Here's a very basic video tutorial if you are interested.  The narrator explains that it's a "social game and a fun game," due in part to the player's ability to take his/her time and draw out the suspense in revealing the cards.  Here's a video that I found on You Tube of a baccarat game taken by a hidden camera.  Check out just how much fun everyone is having!

As to its appeal, an article from the Las Vegas Sun which is linked to from the Capital NY article explains:
It offers no opportunity to use logic or creative thinking, as poker does. It offers none of the intellectual stimulation of noncasino card games like bridge or hearts. It offers no chance to win a veritable fortune on a single modest bet, as you might with horse racing’s Pick Six.
“The Asians love the characteristics of the game,” says Bill Zender, a former gaming executive who served as vice president, director of casino operations and part-owner of the Aladdin hotel-casino. “To them it’s a pure gambling game. Once the cards have been shuffled, cut and placed into the shoe, the cards speak for themselves.”
Non-Asian tourists would rather play a game that gives them an opportunity to make decisions on their hand.
Oh.  You mean, like slot machines?

The more I learn about all this casino stuff, the less sense it all makes.  I really don't want to wade into territory of stereotyping ethnic groups (though there doesn't seem to be any issue whatsoever with Genting and other casino operators doing so).....but horse racing at least used to be considered to be a game that Asians enjoyed too.  I recall, back in the day, how we always would note and comment on how many discarded Racing Forms and track tickets one would see on the ground around Chinatown.  That game involves a lot of decision making, as you probably know.  Maybe they, and all the non-Asians sitting at slot machines as well, have simply gotten tired of having to think so damn much!  I mean, who the hell needs that!?

Apparently, the game got a boost in the 60's thanks to appearances in James Bond movies; particularly this one, from Dr. No (which actually features a variation of the game called Chemin de which appears to involve at least a little thought).

James Featherstonhaugh, playing the villainous Dr. Yes in the film From Saratoga With Love, in which he torments the good folks of East Greenbush, said of Genting's plan:
“I don’t want to flunk geography here, but I think once you get on an airplane, it’s certainly at least is easy to go to Las Vegas as it is to a standalone casino in Tuxedo, N.Y."
Perhaps if Jimmy Feathers was paying attention to Genting's presentation, he wouldn't flunk geography as he has failed the test of common decency.  There, Genting noted that it takes two more hours to fly from Beijing to Las Vegas as it does to NYC.  From there, they could hop on Genting private jets (red no doubt, just like their buses), fly up to Stewart Airport, and be seated at the baccarat table in no time.  Besides the fact that NYC offers tourist attractions that Vegas does not.  (Though the brothels are illegal here.)

Meanwhile, the zoning board in East Greenbush went ahead and approved rezoning laws which would clear the way for a casino on Thompson Hill; that despite another demonstrative display of opposition by the town's residents. 
Acting Chairman Tom Calamaras voted in favor of it. “We did what we were asked to do by the town,” he said. “Plain and simple.”
The people in East Greenbush don't want a casino.  Plain and simple.  Just like baccarat.


kyle said...

Alan, not your usual sterling effort. Which was doubly disappointed because I had just come from trying to read a story in Rolling Stone where I was informed that $50k was a modest annual salary in 1950's Lima,OH. As to your piece, the house advantage in baccarat is just over 1%. If you are going to play a casino table game that is the game to play. Just search Phil Ivey's experience with the game in London. As to Vegas and brothels, not legal. And I doubt a whole lot of Chinese trek out to Pahrump to get a little.

jk said...

Sha Tin's (Hong Kong) handle on their once a week Saturday card is north of US$ 100 mil. Asians love to gamble period.

Figless said...

Asia is the largest continent filled with billions of people, many of whom have new wealth. I suspect the percentage of gamblers is no higher or lower than other those from other continents, there are more because there are more Asians.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of whom Sterling Forest Resort is targeting, I still don't see how the thing can be built in light of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission's decision regarding Thruway Exit 15B. According to TPFYI, the following exchange took place at the Tuxedo planning board meeting on Tuesday:

"Board member Darren Maynard inquired about the 'hiccup' that had been encountered when PIPC denied the applicant access to its land for the purpose of constructing an exit off the NYS Thruway.

He was informed that the applicant had a plan B in the form of a diamond interchange that would not require the use of any park land and that arrangements for this were underway."

Either TPFYI's reporting is off, or the planning board is asleep at the switch. The "diamond interchange" plan B has been on the boards for months. It doesn't require the use of park land, but it still requires the use of a park road, namely route 106, which is controlled by the PIPC. The PIPC expressly denied access to any and all park property, whether it be land or the road, for the construction of Exit 15B. Genting's response to the planning board member's question was intellectually dishonest -- it totally skirted the very significant route 106 issue.