Integrated resorts combine many aspects of entertainment in one project
This week, news, politics, business, and sports all come together with the opening of the Resorts World Catskills on February 8. The resort follows that basic formula for an Integrated Resort that includes casinos, entertainment centers, family-oriented play and entertainment, a convention hall, shopping, a hotel, and more.
Being a five hour drive from Washington—and therefore even longer for most residents of Virginia—the resort is not expected to draw large numbers of people from the Dominion. It is the confluence of interests that makes this event so interesting to us.
It’s newsworthy whenever a businessperson makes a massive investment in an area that appeared saturated already. The owner is KT Lim, a Malaysian who runs the Genting Group out of his native country. Resorts World Catskills will ultimately cost at least $1.2 billion. It will have 100,000 square feet of casino area with 30 % of it devoted to a separate gambling floor for Asians.
The casino will face competition from already existing land based casinos and the continuing growth of online casinos. While online casinos have a lot to offer that real casinos can’t – like lots of fun, free games – no online casino can match the range of amenities Resorts World Catskills can offer and none of the regional land based casinos is an Integrated Resort. Resorts World Catskills will have enough to offer that people will be able to come there and not so much as set foot in the casino!
The all-suites hotel caters to a high end clientele. In addition, there are accommodations for high rollers. Families can enjoy indoor pools and an indoor water park. A convention center will attract events from all over the US and even from overseas.
Business and Politics
Newsworthiness segues into business on the concept of the Integrated Resort. If a businessperson with the business savvy and acumen of KT Lim, is willing to sink well over a billion dollars into an Integrated Resort, it must be because he understand that there is a market for such a venture and his can be not only the first but the only such business serving tens of millions of potential customers for a very long time.
Local Casino Politics
The United States has had land based casinos for some time. At first, they were legal only in Nevada. They spread inexorably across the country but no one thought to build an Integrated Resort. The concept of an Integrated Resort in which the casino was merely one of many reasons for going there, began in Southeast Asia as entrepreneurs looked for ways to satisfy the political opposition to land based casinos.
Asian Casino Politics
The first Integrated Casino was built in Singapore and has been followed by several others. The natural Asian conservatism was unwilling to permit land based casinos as such but as part of Integrated Resorts, the casinos have gained a foothold.
This is in contrast to Las Vegas where the primary purpose of almost anyone who goes there is the casino. Granted there are excellent shows, restaurants, day trips and the like but they are always “after the casino”.
The last element is sports. The Supreme Court is expected to render its judgment in the lawsuit brought by New Jersey attacking the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA, which disallowed sports betting in all but the four states where it was already legal—Nevada, Montana, Oregon, and Delaware.
Resorts World Catskills already has a sports bar that will quickly accommodate sports betting if the Court voids PASPA on constitutional grounds.
Once again, an Integrated Resort is the perfect venue for sports betting because only those people who want to bet on sports need enter the bar or sports betting area. Families will still be able to come to the resort and never expose themselves or their kids to any aspect of gambling, casino, sports, or any other.
Gambling in the Future
It can be said that Resorts World Catskills represents big-time gambling on the future. It is also undeniable that it will affect gambling in the future as well. On the one hand, it will make it possible for people to enjoy a world class resort without gambling at all. On the other hand, it will make gambling seem benign by juxtaposing it with water parks, shopping, and child-oriented entertainment.
The advance of Integrated Resorts—imitations are duly expected even if their price tags will be far less than $1.2 billion—will also pose a major challenge to states that run highly lucrative state lotteries or are participants in Powerball.
They will also pose a big challenge to online casinos because they are so far more than casinos. We can expect every segment in every business area affected by the concept of the Integrated Resort—casinos, shopping centers, convention centers, kids’ stuff such as water parks, to name three—will look for new and creative ways to meet this challenge.
Sports and Resorts
We can even expect a new wave of sports stadiums to be part of an Integrated Resort. Wrigleyville, the neighborhood around Wrigley Field in Chicago, the home of the Cubs, has long been somewhat run down. The family that owns the Cubs is constructing a three-building project including an office building and a boutique hotel as both a business venture for them and as a rehabilitation project for the area.
This project most decidedly does not have a casino! But it does push the envelope on what a sports stadium is. So, we can expect future sports arenas or stadiums to have a casino as part of the overall complex.
It’s clear that the world of sports, entertainment, and gambling are evolving in real time.