Immersing the gamer


Immersive entertainment experiences such as theme parks can be a “complement” and not a “distraction” for the gaming experience in local Integrated Resorts, the CEO of Mars World Enterprises, Inc., Lewis Stanton, told Business Daily.
For Mr. Stanton the traditional notion that theme parks and casinos are completely separate industries was true in the past but not anymore, and if integrated resorts manage to include technologically advanced entertainment experiences they will attract more people to their gaming areas.
“Chinese consumers are more tech savvy than consumers in Europe or the United States but Integrated Resorts there are adapting. And if the Macau [Integrated Resort market] doesn’t change it will end up shrinking,” Mr. Stanton added.
The statements were made after Mr. Stanton’s presentation yesterday entitled ‘Future Focus: The Next Generation of Integrated Resorts’ at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia.

Different from the rest
According to the Mars World CEO, theme-based Integrated Resorts could transform a location-based entertainment facility with a general theme to a “highly engaging, authentic experience where the visitor is part of the action”.
“I guarantee you if you go to The Venetian canals you won’t say to yourself ‘well I don’t need to go to Venice now this is how it looks’. This is a theme-based location but it is not immersive,” he said.
The businessman is currently part of a company that is developing Mars World, a US$2 billion (MOP16 billion) theme park project in Las Vegas that will involve creating a futuristic city simulated to be on Mars in what Mr. Stanton described as the “largest dome in the world”.
“Visitors will be able to look at a Martian sky and have other simulated experiences in what will essentially be an Integrated Resort with a casino,” he added.
According to Mr. Stanton, the company has reached an agreement with a country outside the Chinese city of Shanghai to develop a similar property without the gaming aspect.
The CEO believes offering this complementary experience is something more appealing to the millennial market – customers born post-1980’s – that tends to give more importance to experiences over material possessions.
“This is a very important market for casinos. In 2015, of the 43 million that visited Las Vegas, 34 per cent were millennials, 24 per cent more than in the previous year,” Mr. Stanton said.
According to the CEO, a successful immersive entertainment experience can considerably increase the levels of visitation in its properties but its theme and concept has to be carefully considered.
As a positive example he cited Universal Studios’ Harry Potter-themed park The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which managed to increase the company’s revenue by almost 109 per cent between 2010 to 2015 to reach US$3.34 billion.
On the other hand, he mentioned that the Star Trek Experience project, a theme park that opened at gaming property Las Vegas Hilton in 1998, closed after 10 years due to its inability to attract gamblers to the property.
“At the moment, no property in Las Vegas has attempted an innovative immersing experience joined with an Integrated Resort. The first one to attempt it will have to be courageous. However, if it starts gaining traction, it will lead to an arms race between operators to develop more similar attractions,” Mr. Stanton concluded.