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Glitz, glamour and ... geeks?

Susan Tsang | Aug. 20, 2008
Casinos have long been associated with glitz and glamour, but with IT systems becoming critical for the gaming industry, Susan Tsang reports that the 'geeks', and their handiwork, are becoming increasingly entrenched in Asia's 21st century gaming palaces.

Besides all these new and potential projects, there is also the ongoing development of Macau. In 2006, the enclave overtook the Las Vegas Strip to become the world's biggest gambling centre, measured by total gambling revenues.

Macau's gambling revenue that year soared 22 per cent to hit US$6.95 billion, according to figures released by the local administration, compared to US$6.5 billion for Las Vegas. It continued its winning streak last year, when Macau's casino revenues rose a dizzying 46.6 per cent, to about US$10.4 billion.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers report estimates that this year, Macau will surpass Nevada to become the largest single market for casino gaming.

One industry which promises to get a fillip from this casino resort building is the IT sector, if the Macau experience is anything to go by. "With many new multinationals entering the market, Macau businesses need to continue to identify ways of differentiating their products or services in order to maintain and grow customer share," says Pechet. "Businesses across banking, casino and the hotel industry invariably are turning to IT systems and solutions as a means to improve the delivery, quality and cost effectiveness of their products and services."

According to the company's recent research, Macau's IT industry is expected to grow at about eight per cent a year to 2010, with the gaming and hospitality sectors leading the way. IT investments are expected to focus on industry-specific solutions, aimed at solving the IT requirements of hotels, resorts and casinos.

Pechet says casinos accounted for about 45 per cent of total IT spending in Macau last year. Moreover, casinos reported spending an average of US$400,000 to US$2.6 million per annum on IT products and services.

As a result, says Fusion, global IT players like HP, IBM, Dell, Sun and Microsoft have all established operations in Macau "to tap into the opportunity presented by more than 10 new casinos due to launch over the next three to five years".

So what sort of IT systems would these casino resorts want?

The IT needs of a typical resort set-up would likely be rather standard, like e-mail, network security, accounting, customer relationship management (CRM), hotel management (room reservations, inventory management, etc), customer billing systems, in-room video entertainment systems and e-commerce capabilities, for online bookings via their website.

New gaming devices

For the casinos themselves, however, the IT systems most likely to be used will be in the areas of new gaming devices, visual surveillance systems, and business intelligence (BI) technologies, such as customer data mining. Sources say that whether hotel rooms are 'available' can sometimes depend on whether the applying potential guest has a reputation as a prolific bettor or high roller.


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