Caesars launches WeChat Pay for Chinese visitors

Caesars Entertainment Corp. this week become the first Strip operator to allow tourists from the world’s most populous country to pay for goods and services using one of their nation’s leading mobile payment apps.

Chinese tourists can now use WeChat Pay, a Chinese digital wallet similar to Apple Pay, to buy food, show tickets or souvenirs at 16 point of sale locations inside Caesars Palace, The Linq Promenade and Paris Las Vegas.

WeChat Pay launched across the U.S. earlier this year.

“We want to do this for our Chinese customers to make them feel at home,” said Bruce Bommarito, corporate vice president of international marketing for Caesars Entertainment. “We have been working hard on the Chinese market for some time.”

Caesars is the only one among the city’s top four casino operators to not have a presence on Macau, China’s gambling mecca, forcing it to be more active with its Asian marketing strategy.

Caesars plans to expand the Chinese digital payment service to dozens of more point of sale locations in its Las Vegas properties before the end of the year, Bommarito said.

WeChat Pay enables people to buy items by having a barcode or QR code on their smart phone scanned by a cashier. Purchases made in Las Vegas will settle in U.S. dollars and be subject to a transaction fee.

WeChat Pay is part of WeChat, a Chinese social media giant that also offers a popular messaging service similar to Facebook’s Whatsapp and e-commerce. WeChat has 938 million monthly active user accounts globally while WeChat Pay has 600 million active users.

Caesars last year began to allow Chinese nationals the option of booking rooms at its U.S. properties directly via WeChat. Bommarito did not disclose how many Chinese tourists have used the platform to do so.

“All this stuff helps, particularly with brand awareness with the Chinese community. That said, I don’t think it materially moves the needle in terms of incremental revenue, at least not right away,” said John Decree, an analyst at Union Gaming.

Chinese tourists have been coming to Las Vegas in increasing numbers in recent years as their nation’s torrent economic growth propels tens of millions into the middle class, opening the financial gates to international travel for the first time.

Nearly 207,000 Chinese tourists came to Las Vegas in 2015, an increase of 9.6 percent compared with the year earlier period. That pushed Hainan Airlines to open the first direct flight from Beijing, the Chinese capital, to Las Vegas in December.

Contact Todd Prince at tprince@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0386. Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.

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