Two recent news items point to two phenomena that are catching on around the world: Integrated Resorts and getting truly serious about dealing with problem gambling. The two phenomena might seem unrelated at first but they are, in their own ways, indelibly connected to each other.
Japan to Restrict Access to Land Based Casinos
The government of Japan is understandably concerned with the increase in problem gambling and gambling addiction. The difference between the two is highlighted by a new proposal that has been presented to the government calling for a 2000 Yen entry fee to get into a land based casino and restriction of three casino visits in a single week or ten in a month.
Mainichi of Japan quickly wrote an editorial that such a restriction and the entry fee would not suffice to rein in problem gambling among Japan’s citizenry.
The proposal reflects the government’s desire to “do something” about gamblers who have lost control of their gambling urges. No doubt the government would prefer problem gamblers to play free slots at an online social gaming site. Revenues generated from gambling ought to be generated by recreational gamblers, not problem gamblers.
By restricting entry to a casino to three times per week, the government is telling casino guests that they need to find something else to do during the time they are guests of the casino and hotel because three entries could easily be exhausted in a very short time.
The Integrated Resort concept was developed in Singapore and has spread outward. This is a venue that includes, in addition to a casino, a convention center, possibly a water park, other attractions for kids, a spa, an entertainment center where people can see movies or theater shows, restaurants, and shopping options. The grand idea is that gambling at the casino should not the be all and end all of one’s trip.
Anyone at a casino could exhaust their allowed casino entries for a single week on the first day. They would need more than gambling to make the trip worthwhile. Thus, the proposal is totally in keeping with the idea of an Integrated Resort.
There are mainly two objections with the proposal. The first is that if visitors are limited to three visits per week and have gone to a casino for a full weekend, the restriction will have the opposite and more deleterious effect of encouraging gamblers to stay in the casino longer. It has been shown that problem gamblers are the ones who spend the longest time at a casino in a single session and, contra-positively, the longer one stays in a casino, the more likely it becomes that one would gamble money he or she had not planned on gambling and cannot afford to lose.
The second is that 2000 yen are not likely to deter any but the guests in the very lowest socio-economic class. Although a large percentage of problem gamblers come from this cohort, the greatest number of addicted gamblers has substantial incomes and can easily afford the entry fee.
A corollary to the second objection is that the entry fee has been tried in Singapore where the fee is 8000 yen and even at that rate has done little to deter gamblers. The last objection related to the entry fee is that it has a negative psychological effect on gamblers, especially those with problem gambling tendencies. The psychological effect is that these gamblers see the entry fee as “money lost” and go back to the casino in an attempt to win that money back.
Native Americans Embrace Integrated Resorts
One of the purposes of an Integrated Resort is that it should also be family-oriented so that parents can find exciting activities for their kids at the resort. The idea is that while parents will gamble if they have the chance they will gamble less. This will keep some problem gamblers away from the casino and will discourage some gamblers from spending too much time in the casino, especially when there is so much else to do at the resort.
A casino run by the 7 Clans First Council and located about 110 miles south of Wichita, the capitol of the state of Kansas, in the United States, will add a large indoor water park, top level amusement park type rides, a man-made river, and 60 more hotel rooms to their casino.
As background, Native Americans, formerly called Indians, are allowed to run casinos on native land. The 7 clans are a consortium of tribes small enough to be called clans who run the casino in question.
A spokesman for the 7 clans said that the casino had already been expanded three times since it was established in 2007. One of the expansions was to build a convention center. This is perfectly in keeping with the idea of an Integrated Resort even though the term had not yet been coined when the casino built the convention center.
The spokesman, John Shotton, spoke directly that the water park and expanded hotel capacity were intended to attract families year round to the complex. The water park will cover 3000 square meters (30,000 square feet). It has to be indoors because Kansas gets quite cold in the non-summer months and such a venture would not be economically feasible were it not indoors.
Kansas and Japan Coalesce
The idea of turning land based casinos into Integrated Resorts seems to be an idea that will stay with us for as long as there are casinos. In both locations, the idea is to attract the largest number of people and to offer them much more than “just” a casino gambling experience.
It is also designed to mitigate the problem of gambling addiction.