Melco Resorts & Entertainment operates a suite of international integrated resorts, as Avery Palos, Senior Vice President and Global Chief Information Officer, explains: “The concept behind an integrated resort is a combination of hospitality, food and beverage, retail shopping, casino, entertainment and transportation. We've got operations in Macau, the Philippines and Cyprus with physical operating licenses to operate and manage casino facilities, and then we've got offices in Japan and are headquartered in Hong Kong.”
As a company of only around 20 years of age, it retains a dynamism that Palos believes makes IT’s mission easier. “It's a fairly young company and so is the management which has helped us to achieve a digital transformation. A lot of the battles tend to be not about the technology, but more about change management and people's perceptions of how they work. In a much more mature organization, sometimes that’s a much harder battle.”
Emerging technologies play a significant role at the organisation. “We spend a lot of our time looking at how we can apply those kinds of technologies into our operations,” says Palos. “We're probably one of the first casino operators that actually has five operating blockchains in production.” One example is a blockchain used in the casino’s cage, to track all transactions for gambling activity. Prototypes for use in japan, meanwhile, use blockchain as a mechanism for keeping data on those using the casino, such as winnings and how long they’ve been inside. “We’re actually planning on building a consortium using blockchain in Japan to share that information with both the regulator and other casino operators, because there's a social mandate for it in the country,” says Palos.
AI and machine learning are another key focus, such as video analytics to analyse casino chips as they sit on a table and determine their colour and how many there are in order to understand how much money is in the game - replacing human observers who are unable to keep up with the amount of activity. “We also use a lot of facial recognition, as you can imagine,” says Palos. “To identify people who've been barred from the casino, and so on. We’re also starting to build out algorithms for dynamic offers and incentives. Say we just noticed that you won the jackpot. Let's send you a bottle of champagne and make you an offer of a free hotel room so that you'll come back and spend some more money next time.”
Palos is clear that such initiatives mean the future is bright for the company, with a current focus on acquiring licenses for new jurisdictions in Japan, such as Yokohama. “As we continue to apply digital to that journey, it makes us a quicker, faster, sharper operator, which again helps to parlay things like revenue opportunities and new licensing opportunities in order to beat our competitors. Our CEO has said that he believes that digital is the way out of this problem. If COVID can't be resolved tomorrow, which nobody thinks it will, the only way forward is digital - which is why building a digital presence is so important.”
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