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Fiona Dennehy: Reflecting on the last 20 years of Macau gaming

Fiona Dennehy

SVP - Main Floor Gaming, Wynn Palace

When did you arrive in Macau and in what capacity?

I arrived in September 2005 as the Director of Table Games.

What were your first impressions?

I was amazed at how clean Macau was and how nice the people were.  I had not really done much homework on Macau prior to this. I was also blown away at the potential size the casino industry was heading for.

What are the biggest changes you have seen in your section of the industry?

So many changes over the years. Technology has developed so quickly ie., even the Angel Shoe was new back then. Having designated card rooms etc., was way ahead of Australia in the day.

What have you found most challenging, or memorable?

One of the most memorable experiences was being part of the building of a brand new table games system. All the stakeholders and the developers in the same room discussing how the system needed to interact with all our various transactions and yet be very intuitive for our team members.

Share a curious/ funny episode that could only have happened in Macau?

Some of the most funny and endearing memories were in the early days, and the occasional confusion of language translations.

We had just trained some of our more mature team members from the hotel to become dealers. In order to test if we had to polish our processes, I remember asking a pit manager how they were progressing now that they were dealing in a live environment. The reply I got was confusing, “not really well,” they said. Probing further I asked if it was the payouts or the card rules that they were struggling with. I was told, “no, they are ok.” So I pressed further for understanding, to be enlightened with “when they have to deal with a lot of players, they become very flatulent.” My reply was, “oh, I can see that might be a problem,” before bursting into fits of laughter. There were many such interactions like these in the early days, and they were a constant reminder to me of how the difficulty of language was my problem, not theirs.   

How are you expecting Macau to evolve in the next 20 years?

I expect that there will be even greater development of technology in the workplace.

Macau will develop more leisure tourism and will be less dependent on the gaming dollar, as the other aspects of resorts earn their market share.

The architecture of Macau will change as housing and re-housing develops, but I hope it will never lose its current charm with old and new together.

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