The first time I went to Vegas, my budget for gambling was $1,000 for the 3-day weekend. I had to talk myself into bringing that much cash just for gambling, assuming that if anyone who didn’t like to gamble (my parents included) found out, they’d host an intervention.
When I dropped my first $300 on the Blackjack felt, I felt an instant knot forming in my stomach. I was nervous. What if I lost this $300? It was a huge deal.
So when I hear about what’s happening in Tampa, Florida of all places, I can’t help but look back on my first trip to Sin City and laugh.
It turns out that the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa is quietly becoming the new Vegas. Millionaires and billionaires from Asia are growing tired of casinos in Singapore, Las Vegas, and Macau, and turning to Tampa for something different and somewhat exotic.
And they’re bringing big money with them. Massive amounts of money. I’m talking like $10 million. With this kind of coin on the line, the Hard Rock staff does a lot to cater to these high rollers. They’re upgrading their VIP experience to include feng shui décor, exotic catering, and high-end butler service. Bottom line, they’re going all out to attract these whales.
I know what you’re thinking. Does Tampa even offer a direct flight from countries in Asia? It doesn’t matter because these wealthy big-spenders don’t fly coach. And they don’t even fly first-class, at least not commercially.
Instead, the Hard Rock flies them in on a Gulfstream V jet. That’s the same type of private jet that A-list celebrities use to crisscross the world.
If you’re looking for these high rollers, you won’t find them. Not if you’re playing with $5 and $25 chips. The Hard Rock has a private room with chips in denominations so large you’d assume our editor failed to catch my typo. I’m talking $250,000 and $500,000 chips. It’s truly unbelievable.
So how did the Hard Rock Tampa become such a big destination for rich Asian gamblers? Well, it’s bigger than word of mouth. The casino employs oversees business development staff to attract the high rollers. We’re not sure what they’re doing but it’s definitely working.