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Foxwoods Rolls Out New Rolling Program in the United States
by Steve Karoul

Foxwoods Resort Casino is the largest casino in the United States. It sits in the middle of the woods in Connecticut on a small tribal reservation owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. It does not have a sister property in Macau and it does not have any other properties in Asia. However, Foxwoods is strategically located close to three of the largest Chinatowns in the Northeast; New York City Chinatown, Boston Chinatown and Toronto Chinatown. Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun Casino which is the other casino in Connecticut both share this lucrative Asian market segment. Both casinos combined control the lions’ share of domestic Asian business in the United States. Both casinos have extremely large Asian pits, numerous Asian games, multi-cultural Asian staff, headline Asian entertainment, extensive Asian bus programs and varied Asian restaurants.
The one new item that Foxwoods now offers to its customers is an Asian style, Non-Negotiable Chip Rolling program for Baccarat. Foxwoods, under the direction of their new President, Michael Speller, just aggressively launched a new broad based Asian style Rolling Program. Mike has substantial ‘hands on’ experience with Rolling programs. Mike is a highly qualified and experienced gaming executive with over 35 years experience in the industry including substantial experience in Asia where he worked for the Genting Casino Group in Malaysia to help set up Star Cruises in Asia. Star Cruises is owned by Genting International and very successfully specializes in high limit floating casinos aboard their numerous cruise ships positioned throughout Asia. Rolling marketing programs are the game of choice among Asian gamblers.
Going back in history for a moment, when Foxwoods first tried to obtain Federal recognition to obtain a casino license, they went to numerous major banks in the United States to try to secure necessary funding for their new casino. They were rejected by all of the banks. They were later introduced to Tan Sri K. T. Lim who flew to Connecticut to meet with the Foxwoods Tribal Council. The Lim family understood the dynamics of casino gaming and recognized Foxwoods strategic location being positioned within a three hour drive to over 60 million people in one of the more affluent regions of the United States. They agreed to loan Foxwoods the necessary money to begin and the rest is history. Foxwoods has since developed into one of the larger, more successful casinos in the world today.
Mike Speller recognized the opportunity to begin a new Rolling Program in the United States especially in the Northeast United States. Not only can they tap into the large existing Asian communities but they are also well positioned to capture additional international Asian clients that may be coming to the States to visit children attending university in the Northeast, business conferences or meetings in New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C. or even Toronto or for medical reasons since Boston has numerous prestigious hospitals catering to wealthy clients from Asia. In addition, New York City competes with Las Vegas as one of the top Asian tourist destinations hosting hundreds if not thousands of affluent Asian tourists on a daily basis.
Mike rapidly mobilized their new program and began an intensive internal training and education program to make sure that everyone understood the dynamics of Rolling Baccarat before the official program launch on Dec. 22, 2008.
The Foxwoods Rolling Program has the full support of the Tribal Council as well as management, the Tribal Gaming Commission and their gaming staff. It is being marketed very aggressively both domestically and internationally. One additional note of interest is that Foxwoods has begun its new Rolling Program in a manner common to Southeast Asia but slightly different than casinos in Macau or what Caesars Tahoe or the Rio in Las Vegas tried to accomplish before. The difference being that with the new Foxwoods Rolling program, individual players as opposed to Junket Reps are currently being targeted to participate in the new program. The actual buy in and rolling for individual players occurs directly at the Baccarat table as opposed to at the casino cage for more structured Casino Junket Rolling programs.
Foxwoods presently offers the individual rolling player a 1.5% rolling incentive commission. In simplified terms, this means that if the player buys in at a specified “Rolling” table in the casino for $10,000, they will receive $10,000 in Non-Negotiable Chips and $150 in Negotiable Chips (Live Chips). Foxwoods states that their target market is for all customers who understand the benefits of a rolling program whether they are junket players, premium players or small players who wish to gamble at one of their specified rolling tables in the casino. All players are informed as to how the program works and that if they participate that they will receive the 1.5% rolling commission in lieu of any comps, discounts on loss or other benefits. Players who participate in rolling programs normally play long hours in an effort to earn large commissions in addition to normal wins or loses in the casino. All of the Non-Negotiable Chips must be played at the table. If the player loses the hand, the casino collects the Non Negotiable chips If the player wins the hand, the casino returns the Non Negotiable chips plus pays the winnings in Live or Negotiable Chips. Additional buy-in occurs directly at the table again as opposed to the casino cage. Future Rolling Junket Programs at Foxwoods will however record all turn-over at the Casino Cage to better protect the House and the Junket Rep. Once again, Rolling Baccarat games are not new and in fact, are the most popular game in Asian casinos. Mike Speller and Foxwoods need to be commended for being creative and aggressive during an economically distressed time period for casinos. They are very confident that they can achieve enough volume to offset any volatility risks. Rolling may prove to be a good source of incremental revenue for Foxwoods. The new rolling program becomes even more attractive for the casino providing that they can generate enough interest in the new program. If they can, they will be able to attract both Asian and non-Asian Baccarat players locally, regionally and internationally. However, be aware that Rolling Programs may not be right for every casino. Do your homework first and investigate all aspects of a rolling commission program to see if it is right for your casino.

Understanding the basics of Asian Rolling Programs paying 1.5% with a $100,000 Table Differential
If this all sounds like Chinese to you, you are not to far from the truth. You would be much more likely to hear this in Macau or another Asian casino that caters to an Asian clientele. You will also probably hear the casino management complain that the players “squeeze” all of the cards and that they have to use eight brand new decks of cards at the end of every shoe. You’re right; the game is Punto Banco or Baccarat. It is the game of choice of the premium Asian player market. Many casino operators around the world are not familiar with this terminology or this type of gambling. If you want to run junkets from Asia or are considering the possibility of getting involved in some way with Asian gaming, you should at least understand the basics then you can better decide if this type of business is right for your casino or not. In addition, the opportunity for new high level jobs for experienced casino management level employees will continue to increase over the next few years as the Macau casino market matures, the new Singapore casinos open and many new casinos continue to open throughout Asia.
Many people normally ask what a Non Negotiable chip is. A “Non Negotiable chip” is basically a chip which cannot be cashed out at the casino cage for currency versus a “Live Chip” or

Date Posted: 27-Dec-2008

Steve Karoul is a recognized authority in the areas of International Casino Marketing and Casino Junket Operations. Steve has lived in South Africa, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Bangkok and the Philippines and has also conducted casino related business in well over 90 different countries around the world. Steve is a leading independent casino marketing consultant. Steve may be reached at Tel. (1-860) 536-1828, Fax 536-1898 or by E-mail at: skaroul@comcast.net or www.euroasiacasino.com

 
 
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