Malaysian tourism and casino conglomerate Genting Group has announced another delay for its Resorts World Las Vegas casino resort, pushing the scheduled opening back to 2020. The resort was originally scheduled to be open for business in 2016, but has since suffered repeated setbacks that have delayed its opening. Similar to the Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino opened in Las Vegas last year, the Resorts World Las Vegas has been open with its ambition to target Chinese tourists and Chinese-Americans, promising to provide a casino experience catered to Chinese customers.
Genting’s ambitious bid to satisfy Chinese customers’ demands is also the quoted reason for the most recent delay. According to Resort President Edward Farrell, the casino will “use technology that is coming about and be the modern casino,” bespoke slot machines, as well as modern, Chinese-themed, baccarat tables. The original design, besides the typical glass-covered skyscrapers, also featured a large complex in traditional Chinese style that bears resemblance to Beijing’s Forbidden City. According to previous project plans, the casino resort would also house a panda exhibit, an aquarium, as well as an indoor water park, among other entertainment options.
However, due to a quoted shift in customer preferences, the most recent delay to the project was made to accommodate an overhaul of the original design in order to attract younger gamblers. Farrell, who leads the project, describes the revamped design as “much more Shanghai than maybe Beijing, with technology and a modern-looking feel.” Not only a response to changing customer preferences in China, Farrell also quotes a shift in Las Vegas toward the modern as one of the reasons for the redesign of Genting’s Las Vegas casino resort.
Catering to China’s mass market gamblers instead of the VIP high rollers is gradually becoming the new trend among casino operators around the world, in part as a result of Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign—which sent shockwaves among casinos who have relied on regular visits by China’s biggest spenders. Macau, Chinese tourists’ foremost gambling destination, only started seeing a return to positive tourism growth after changing its focus to China’s mass market gamblers. Similarly, the Lucky Dragon Casino and Resort in Las Vegas has also been outspoken about its ambition to attract mass market travelers instead of China’s high rollers. With China’s growing middle class now responsible for the lion’s share of China’s international tourism growth, the mass market now holds much more promise than the saturated high end for future growth.
For Genting, delaying the project for another may seem like a small price to pay for a larger share of the Chinese outbound tourism market.