While Las Vegas gaming operators pursue Chinese customers in Asian markets such as Macau, two Connecticut Indian casinos do the same thing on the homefront”¦Chinatowns in New York and Boston.
Each day, Foxwoods Resorts Casino and Mohegan Sun send out at least 100 buses to Asian neighborhoods in New York City and Boston seeking players of Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Korean descent.
And the players respond.
"We call it entertainment," says Ernie Wu, director of Asian marketing at Foxwoods. "We don’t say it’s gambling. Our Asian blood loves to feel the luck."
Those taking the buses explain that many U.S. pastimes require fluency in English. For some, it’s difficult to understand the sport being played at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. Also, the costs of some American pastimes can be prohibitive.
Asian casino games such as Pai Gow poker are their favorites.
When one of the Asians enters a bus to Foxwoods, he pays $10 for the round-trip fare but at the casino he is given a $12 food coupon and a $40 gambling coupon at no additional cost. Mohegan Sun customers also pay $10 in bus fare and are given a $15 meal voucher and a $20 gambling coupon.
The practice of catering to Asian customers is not new. A half-century ago, a New England racetrack designated one day of its race meeting as "Boston Chinatown Day" and entertained busloads of horse players while many of the wives and children spent the day at a nearby amusement park.