Page 1

Jurisdiction Updates August 2017 Edition

In focus pg.40

Taking China out of the marketing loop


Space for sports betting growth? pg.26


The problem of gambling addiction pg.18


Concession concerns pg.6


Kinmen gets its say pg.9



THINKING This year at AGE we invite you to “curve your thinking” around the possibilities of games, cabinets, services, technology solutions, and the future of the gaming industry. You can expect to see new hardware and technology, insight led venue management solutions and the industry’s most entertaining new content all on the one stand. Immerse yourself in our diverse portfolio that illustrates both choice and flexibility for your venue including cross-cabinet compatible content, venue configurable platforms and a range of commercial options that are accommodating to your strategy. We look forward to further strengthening our relationships with you and gaining your valuable feedback on our portfolio. See you on stand #100



Shifts in strategic focus


hina, or its “disposable capital,” has been the

of life at Resorts World and the unknowns behind the

number one driver of the gaming industry and for

implementation of a smoking ban, the market continues

many operators the only market worth developing

its upward trend - with Morgan Stanley expecting EBITDA

- but that view may be changing. As the last few

to grow 8 percent QoQ, driven by Bloomberry and Melco.

years have shown, many of the projects catering exclusively

Also in these pages, we highlight the winners of the second

to the Mainland have run into trouble, clearly illustrating

edition of the Asia Gaming Awards. Held at a gala dinner at

that dependency on a single market - or segment - can

The Parisian Macau in May, the event was to celebrate the

be catastrophic. The past few years in Macau was a case

best in the Asian gaming industry. It was attended by more

in point, as the dominant VIP market collapsed. In this

than 300 industry members who gathered to congratulate

edition of Asia Gaming Briefings we look at how data and

the winners in 12 categories from operators and suppliers

technology can work hand in hand to develop a worthwhile

to service providers. This year’s Special Contribution to the

marketing strategy, outside of the “if you build it they will

industry was dedicated to CSR.

come” box. In the case of Australia, especially after the

Our Suppliers Special report focuses on some of the

“Crown incident,” the issue might prove more acute – AGB

companies attending the Australasia Gaming Expo, which

advisor Sudhir Kale argues that “more important than the

after a few years in temporary facilities returns to its home

choice of market will be the choice of marketing strategy

in Sydney’s Darling Harbor, at the new Convention &

that casino operators pursue.”

Exhibition Centre.

Also In Focus in these pages is the argument that it’s time

Organizers expect thousands of visitors to converge

to start thinking of CSR as a revenue driver and not a cost

at the show to see the latest technology and products

base; not on how much the operators are willing to spend on

in ATM equipment, cash handling & equipment,

initiatives to mitigate issues, but more on the benefits an IR

consultancy services, financial services, food and

can bring into the local communities.

beverage, I.T., interior design & fitout, marketing

Highlighting the Jurisdiction Updates, all eyes are on Japan.

services, point of sale systems, retail, security, signage

As both cities and operators jostle for position in their efforts

& displays and more. Ross Ferrar, CEO of the Gaming

to host the first IRs, the single-biggest political obstacle is

Technologies Association says the industry has

the intense public fear about potential negative effects from

contributed more than “A$50 billion in government

gambling addiction.

revenue over the last 10 years.”

It’s a subject that’s echoed in our New Zealand update,

If you’d like to book a meeting at AGE write to us at age@

where new research has emerged claiming the harm Meanwhile, enjoy sunny Sydney!

Rosalind Wade

Luis Pereira

from gambling in the country is almost double that of Connect with us:

drug use, bipolar affective disorder, eating disorders and schizophrenia combined.


In Macau, where in just three years, the first of the licenses awarded to concessionaires expire and, despite the billions

Asia Gaming Brief

Asia Gaming Brief

of dollars invested by the operators in the market, there is no clarity over the process of what might be requested of the

On behalf of Asia Gaming Brief

operators going forward.

Rosalind Wade & Luis Pereira

Onto the Philippines where, despite the tragedy of loss


AUGUST 2017 EDITION Series II • Issue XIX

PUBLISHED BY Blue Sky Venture Ltd. 16/F China Law Building, 409 Av. da Praia Grande Macau SAR | P.O. Box 1139 t. +853 2871 7267 f. +853 2871 7264 e. ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES SUBSCRIPTION ENQUIRIES EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES

PUBLISHERS & MDS Rosalind Wade, Luis Pereira MANAGING EDITOR Sharon Singleton ASIA EDITOR Felix Ng DESIGN People Press Publishing PHOTOGRAPHY Agencies PRINTING Hop Sze, Hong Kong

DISCLAMER All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any shape or form, or by any means, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature, without prior express permission. The publishers accept no responsibility for loss or damage to any materials submitted for publication. The views expressed within are not necessarily subscribed by the publishers. For more info, please visit our website


› ICE Totally Gaming › iGaming Asia Congress › Japan Gaming Congress › G2E Asia › Russian Gaming Week › iGaming Super Show › World Gaming Executive Summit › Australasian Gaming Expo › Gaming, Racing & Wagering Australia › G2E Las Vegas › European iGaming Congress › IAGR Annual Conference › MGS Entertainment Show › Malta iGaming Seminar › SiGMA

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017




























special focus

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017
















Concession clarity lacking as deadline approaches In just three years, the first of the licenses awarded to Macau’s concessionaires expire and, despite the billions of dollars invested by the operators in the market, there is still no clarity over the renewal process.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017


Junket body calls for tighter rules The president of the Association of Gaming & Entertainment Promoters of Macau, Kwok Chi Chung, is calling for the Macau government to tighten requirements for junket promoters. Junket promoters currently need only to provide a total of MOP100,000 (US$12,400) in deposits to attain the status of junket promoter. Kwok said “MOP100,000 for doing businesses in the order of billions is, of course, too low.” He added the government should also increase supervision over the gaming promoters.


here is no mechanism under the current law for automatic renewal, which as the deadline approaches is leading to increasing concern in the market as to the tack the government may take. Views on the ground are mixed. “A myth has been put forward that implies that the renewals will be an automatic process and that the advantage will go to the incumbents… that is not the case,” argued international gaming consultant Ben Lee, managing director of iGamix. “The government has come out very clearly and said it is not a renewal,” said Lee, adding that a seventh concessionaire is not out of the question either. DICJ director Paulo Martins Chan, when asked about gaming concessions on TDM Radio last year, did in fact say: “Strictly speaking it’s not a renewal but a new concession.” But beyond that, the government has allowed the market to play a destabilizing guessing game as to what form this may take. In May 2017, stock prices of Macau’s gaming concessionaires took a beating after DICJ director Paulo Martins Chan made a comment implying that all concessionaires would have to rebid for their licenses through a public tender. Chan was speaking on the sidelines of the G2E Asia conference in Macau. Finance Secretary Lionel Leong, in July, noted that the government “would analyze various options – including the possibility of amendment to terms and conditions – regarding any refreshment of gaming rights for Macau’s current gaming concessions and sub-concessions.” The current system was put into place when the government broke up the monopoly of SJM Holding’s predecessor STDM at the turn of the millennium, awarding three concessions. These concessionaires were ultimately allowed to award sub concessions, resulting in the six in the market today; SJM Holdings, Melco Resorts & Entertainment, Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment, Sands China, and MGM Macau. The first wave of licenses are set to expire in 2020, with the remainder in 2022.

Experts say any “rebidding” process would be highly destabilizing, though David Green, CEO of Newpage Consulting said he hadn’t seen any indication that any of the concessions will not be renewed. “What’s clear is that all six of the current concessionaires, will get the opportunity to renew… and certainly there would be no one walking away at this point,” said Green. Vitaly Umansky from Sanford C. Bernstein said any non-renewal would be “viewed very negatively by any future investors into Macau, and by extension investors into Hong Kong and China,” and thus, wouldn’t be likely. Instead, both suggest that all six of the current concessions will see their licenses renewed, but with additional economic costs. So what will operators need to do to placate Macau’s government and its citizens? “At this point nobody knows, not even the government,” said Sérgio de Almeida Correia, a Macau gaming lawyer from ACS - Lawyers and Private Notary. “What may be said is that Macau does not need more five star hotels, or more fountain lakes with music, kitsch replicas of European monuments… Macau needs to improve the quality of living of the average family/citizen and this will require a different set of options,” he said. The gaming experts believe that Macau’s concessionaires would be required to invest more in non-gaming developments, which makes sense given the government’s continued strides towards economic diversification. One idea, would be for operators to invest in non-gaming facilities in Hengqin - such as hotels and office buildings, says Green, rather than any additional developments in Macau. In regards to a seventh concessionaire, both Umansky and Green believe that pursuing such a concept would lead to a high-profile, complicated political debate in Macau, which “could easily result in outcomes that the Macau government would not desire.” Others aren’t so sure. “There are talks of a new concession, or

new concessionaires coming in to Macau,” says Lee “Whether it’s to replace one of the existing six, or in addition to the existing six, is another line of speculation.” Correia says he believes we may see a 7th, or even an 8th concessionaire. “For Macau, keeping competition between concessionaires is vital and things seem at this moment, to have stagnated,” said the lawyer. “It could be in Macau’s interest to have at least one more concessionaire in order to shake/ revitalize the industry,” he noted. Unfortunately, until the Macau government provides more clarity, the issue of concession renewal with be a hotly debated topic and a shadow looming over high flying casino stocks.

SJM Holdings SJM Holdings (880:HK) has 20 casinos on the Macau Peninsula. The company is currently building The Grand Lisboa Palace on Cotai, which is scheduled for opening in 18H1. The casino’s original plans were for 700 gaming tables and over 1,200 slot machines across a gaming floor area of approximately 27,000 square metres. In March, the company opened a new gaming space on the first floor of its Grand Lisboa property as part of an ongoing revamp. The new area includes 870 square meters of space, with 10 gaming tables and over 40 slot machines as well as a dining area. The company, once the dominant operator in Macau, has been losing market share mainly due to its reliance on lower quality peninsula properties, while it waits for its Cotai IR to come online. Work on the site was suspended in early June following the death of a worker on site.

Galaxy Entertainment Group Galaxy Entertainment Group (27:HK) has three main properties and runs three City Club casinos inside hotels. The company’s Galaxy Macau Phase 2 and Broadway at Galaxy Macau opened on May 27, 2015, almost doubling

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017


the capacity of the resort. The operator said it continues to move forward with Cotai Phase 3, with the potential to start construction in late 18Q1, or early 18Q2. It also said it is moving ahead with plans for a low-density IR on the neighboring island of Hengqin. The company has been shifting its focus to expand its mass market business and non-gaming activities and as a result is now seen as one of the best positioned in the market. “Should VIP growth be stronger and more sustained than expected, it would disproportionately benefit the company as it retains a strong junket network and VIP product offering,” Bernstein Research said. The company has expressed an interest in a license in Japan and earlier this year teamed with Monte-Carlo Societe Bains de Mer to explore strategic opportunities in the region.

Sands China Sands China (1928:HK) has five properties in Macau. The new $3 billion The Parisian opened in September last year and received a highly positive reaction from analysts. It features a scale replica of the Eiffel Tower, nearly 13,000 hotel rooms, two million square feet of retail-mall offerings and two million square feet of MICE capacity. The company recently announced its retail line up for another 170 shops. Sands was still only awarded 100 tables at the open, like the VIP-focused Wynn Palace. Sands is seen as being in strong position over the longer term given the shift in focus in Macau to the mass market and the government’s push for non-gaming activities. The operator has the largest number of hotel rooms, the greatest MICE capacity and the biggest share of non-gaming revenue at present amongst the operators. However, analysts say there are few near-term catalysts to give the stock a further boost. Like most of its rivals, the group is also pushing hard for a license in Japan.

Melco resorts & entertainment Melco Crown Entertainment (6883:HK) has changed its name to Melco Resorts & Entertainment. The company has three casinos and the Mocha Clubs. Melco International Development recently acquired an extra US$1.1 billion worth of shares in the company taking its stake to 51.3 percent stake, compared to 37.9 percent before. This follows the decision of partner Crown Resorts to sell down its holding. Despite a slow ramp up, the company’s

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

newest resort, the Hollywood-themed Studio City, is now making a strong contribution to results. The property opened with only mass tables, but has added a small VIP operation since November. The company recently announced its City of Dreams will rebrand the existing Hard Rock Hotel to “The CountDown”. The name change is expected to take effect from July 2017 until March 31, 2018 with a countdown clock timed to the unveiling of a new phase of development of City of Dreams. April 2018 will mark the opening of Macau’s new landmark: Morpheus, a new iconic luxury hotel designed by the late Dame Zaha Hadid. Parent company Melco International Development recently announced it was dropping out of the bidding to run a casino in Spain, though it is proceeding with a project on Cyprus. The company is now planning to hold a 70.7 percent stake after buying out its partner Hard Rock International. It previously had 35.5 percent.

Wynn macau Wynn Macau (1128:HK) opened its $4 billion Wynn Palace in Cotai on August 22 after facing construction delays. The company’s original property is on the Macau Peninsula. The Wynn Palace has 1,700 hotel rooms and 90 percent of the resort will be non-gaming. The company is expected to have been one

of the best performing in the second quarter, gaining market share in both the VIP and mass segments. The strong recovery in VIP revenue in the first half will have benefited Wynn in particular. The original ramp up of the Wynn Palace was also slower than expected due to problems such as accessibility due to the amount of ongoing construction in the surrounding area. The situation has now improved.

MGM china MGM China (2282:HK) is operating a single casino on the peninsula. The opening for its new $2.9 billion development, the MGM Cotai, has been pushed back from late 2016 to the second half of 2017. The resort will not feature any VIP rooms at the opening and will focus on mass gaming, while its original property will continue to offer VIP services. MGM Cotai will have approximately 1,500 hotel rooms and suites, meeting spaces, high end spa, retail offerings and food and beverage outlets. The HK$24 billion ($3.1 billion) project has a jewellry-box design and 85 percent of its gross floor area will be dedicated to non-gaming facilities. It will also feature a permanent collection of more than 300 Asian and Chinese artworks. The opening of the resort will market the largest incremental expansion for any of the Macau operators, though analysts say the full benefit from that increased capacity may take some time to feed through to the bottom line.



Q2 GGR MOP 62.9b


Q2 VIP revenue


Mass revenue


Slot revenue


GGR 2017E Bernstein


Morgan Stanley

+15% +10%



GGR 2018E Morgan Stanley


Macau Legend agrees to Landmark sale Macau Legend Development Ltd has received a letter of intent from an “independent third party” for the sale of its Landmark Macau casino hotel. The exact terms have yet to be negotiated. Macau Legend said the disposal will allow the group to expand its businesses in Macau and overseas without taking on too much additional leverage. “In addition, the company remains firmly committed to the successful completion of the redevelopment of Macau Fisherman’s Wharf, and the possible disposal will enable the group to focus more on the new hotels, casinos and other tourist related facilities at Macau Fisherman’s Wharf.”


Four dead after row over illegal online gambling op


It’s Kinmen’s turn, and a last chance for Taiwan?

Three people died of “execution style” gunshot wounds after a dispute between illegal online gambling operators, local media reports. The gunman shot two men and one woman before turning the gun on himself after being cornered by police while trying to flee the scene. Police found 15 computers and estimate the man was netting about $98,000 to $164,000 per month from clients.

Bill Bryson

On October 28, 2017, Kinmen Island will hold a referendum in which the residents will be asked if they would support the establishment of casino-based tourism resorts on the island. Kinmen (also known as Quemoy) is a Taiwan-controlled island located off the coast of China, just outside Xiamen harbor.


inmen will be the third of Taiwan’s offshore islands to hold such a referendum. The ability of offshore islands like Kinmen to hold countywide referendums on casino gaming arises under the 2009 amendments to the Offshore Islands Development Act (“OIDA”). In 2009, shortly after the OIDA was amended, and again in 2016, Penghu Island – which sits in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and mainland China – held referendums on casino gaming, both of which failed to garner a majority of favorable votes. In 2012, Matsu Island held a casino referendum which approved the establishment of casinos in Matsu. To this day, no casinos have been established in Taiwan. Kinmen differs in important respects from the other two offshore islands. It is larger (around five times the size of Macau) than either Penghu or Matsu and while its transportation links to the main island of Taiwan are not as advanced as Penghu’s, it has better transportation links (mainly, a ferry service) to mainland China than either Penghu or Matsu. Perhaps even more significant for purposes of the upcoming referendum, Kinmen is also the most prosperous of the three islands. Many of Kinmen’s residents are military retirees, and the island boasts Taiwan’s most famous Kaoliang distillery and bottling plant, a business which, by itself, brings in around NT$7 billion ($230.6 million) in tax revenue every year. Kinmen has also invested in tourism infrastructure in recent years, including new hotels, duty-free shops, a

movie theater, and a growing number of former military installations that have been turned into tourist destinations. Indeed, the most important deficiency of Kinmen as a tourist destination is its airport, which lacks modern Inertial Landing Systems and the operations of which are therefore more likely to be impacted by adverse weather conditions than airports on Taiwan. Kinmen’s relative prosperity may, however, actually prove a negative in the context of trying to stir up enthusiasm within the local populace for establishing casino-based resorts. Moreover, as the Taiwan Affairs Offices of both Fujian Province and the central PRC government have made clear in the past, a successful casino referendum and the subsequent establishment of casinos on Kinmen would almost certainly result in a substantial reduction of mainland Chinese tourists to Kinmen. The bottom line, of course, is that a successful referendum in Kinmen is not a foregone conclusion. And even if it were a foregone conclusion, it would not necessarily follow that Taiwan would become Asia’s newest gaming jurisdiction; the political climate in Taiwan has changed substantially since Matsu approved its casino referendum in 2012. In fact, the Kinmen referendum could well be the final phase of efforts to legalize casino gaming in Taiwan that date back as far as 1989. Bill is a Taipei-based lawyer with Global Market Advisors. He has more than 30 years of experience in the gaming and

Anti-gambling groups want repeal of referendum option One MP from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, backed by antigambling groups, has called for the repeal of the 2009 Offshore Island Development Act amendments to preclude any future referendums on whether to allow casinos. “Even though President Tsai Ing-wen has promised to oppose the construction of casinos during her term, we are deeply disappointed that the Legislative Yuan has yet to abolish the provisions in the Offshore Islands Development Act allowing casinos,” Alliance Against the Legalization of Gambling executive director Ho Tsunghsun was cited as saying.

Tourism arrivals January - May 4,287,937


China arrivals 1,075,638


Main arrivals by country of residence



US Korea

HK/ Macau SE Asia


hospitality industries, with the majority of that time spent in Asia.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017




Border casinos highlight Thai potential A heat map of the casinos clustered around Thailand’s borders are a strong indicator of how much interest there would be if the Kingdom were to legalize gambling.


ccording to recent research by Rattaphong Sornsuphap, from the College of Social Innovation at Rangsit University, there are at least 32 casinos he would term as “serious” that are seeking to tap the Thai market, with most along the frontiers with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. That doesn’t count the many more fly-by-night operations seeking to cash in on the Thai market from dusty border towns.

Estimated total revenue of The Greater Mekong region was almost $50 billion in 2015, that’s up from $34.2 billion in 2010 and includes the IRs in Singapore and Malaysia, he said. Gambling in Thailand is banned, apart from the state-run lottery and through the Bangkok Turf Club, though foreign investors have expressed strong interest in Thailand as a gaming destination. Some industry insiders have forecast that Thailand could feasibly become of a similar size to Singapore, which

currently generates about $4 billion in gross gaming revenue from two integrated resorts. But in the absence of legislation at home, the border casinos continue to thrive, capitalizing on their political connections to navigate regulatory grey zones. “In Cambodia, the areas where casinos have been cleared to open are mostly in special economic zones,” Rattaphong told AGB in an interview. He says the casinos are known to have “close ties” to high ranking Cambodian


officials including political posts. “Therefore this makes progress and the management of the casinos manageable.” According to the Cambodian government, there are 22 casinos along its border with Thailand. The most recent opening there however has raised eyebrows and caused a minor trade dispute between the two neighbors. The Saitaku Resort and Casino, is located within a 130 metre perimeter behind the Thai border village of Chong Sai Taku, in Ban Kruat district, some 412 kilometres from Bangkok. It is also some 160 km north of Poipet, where the majority of the border casinos with Thailand are to be found, raising questions as to the choice of location. The casino hit headlines after activist Veera Somkwamkid insisted the property falls within the confines of Thailand in a national park. The border area has been the subject of disputes in the past, but Thailand’s National Parks Department says the property is legally on the Cambodian side of the border line. Ban Kruat district in the Thai province of Buri Ram is the known stronghold of wealthy former Thai politician and football club owner, Newin Chidchob. He has denied any involvement in the property. The dispute raised temperatures to the level where Thai officials initially banned all Thai nationals from crossing the border to the casino. Cambodia reciprocated in kind, causing significant economic damage to local traders who ply their wares in the district, according to the mayor of the Tambon Chanthop Phet Municipality. The soft opening went ahead on April 7th. Some 300 Thai VIP guests were allowed to cross the checkpoint but other Thai nationals were prevented from joining the event, which included Thai pop singers.

When contacted by AGB, the casino spokesperson said the casino was now “open” seven days a week and was offering gamblers slot machines, roulette and baccarat. She said at present there were no online sports betting games and there were no foreigners visiting the resort. She said most of the clientele were Cambodian, even though officially Cambodians are banned from gambling at home. Rattaphong said the majority of patrons to the Cambodian border casinos are Thai nationals with Poipet the most popular destination due to its close proximity – just two hours by tour bus and van from Bangkok. However, he said there was growing interest among the border casinos in targeting Chinese visitors to Thailand. Australia-listed Donaco International for one is eyeing the China VIP segment. Earlier this month, it signed an accord with a marketing agency to bring junkets in from around the region to its Star Vegas resort in Poipet. “We are pleased to confirm the launch of a new era at Star Vegas, with a focus on increasing visitation from international players, in order to supplement the existing healthy Thai-facing business,” CEO Joey Lim, said in a release. Star Vegas has been strongly focused on the Thai market, signing a partnership accord with U.K. Premier League club Manchester United to pique interest among soccer-mad Thais. Rattaphong suggested the border casinos should also look at expanding their betting options to offer online sports, especially of major league football, given its popularity. Manchester United alone is estimated to have some 19.5 million followers in the country. In neighboring Laos, casinos are being upgraded to attract more Thai and Chinese business.

The Kings Roman Casino, just across from the Thai border marked by the Mekong River, has received millions in investment. The Hong Kong-registered Kings Romans Group runs the property in a joint venture with the Lao government and signed a 99-year lease in 2007. The Dansavanh Nam Ngum Casino near Vientiane has also expanded, offering the types of gaming tables and slot machines that are popular among Thai gamblers, who are able to travel across the Friendship Bridge from the northern Thai town of Nong Khai. Hong Kong-listed Macau Legend Development took over the Savan Vegas Casino in Savannakhet province last year in a deal worth $42 million. The agreement includes the right to a 50-year monopoly in three Lao provinces, including the present Savan Vegas Casino. While casinos are banned in Myanmar, two major casinos have been operating off the coast of Tanintharyi. Others are clustered along the border with China, especially Mong La and Muse in Shan State. But the Tanintharyi casinos came under the elected government’s spotlight in 2016 when both were reviewed under the 1899 Burma Gambling Act, which forbids casinos to operate in Burma. The resorts, the Victoria Entertainment Resort and the Grand Andaman Resort, are located close to the Thai border with the Grand Andaman accessible by boat from the Thai city of Rayong. Senior executives of Grand Andaman have insisted their operations were legal and say they play a key role in stimulating tourism in the country. Both casinos have been operating since the 1990s, but the National League for Democracy (NLD) led elected government in 2015 said they were under review. Local officials said they are unlikely to face court action or be closed.

Thai lottery looks at Philippine online model

Casino legislation after 2018 election?


Thai Government Lottery Office officials recently met with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to learn about transitioning from physical to online lottery, local media reports. At present the sweepstake draws in Thailand are being held two times a week, where 20 percent of sweepstake sales go to state revenues, and 60 percent are allocated for its game prizes. The GLO delegation also watched Mid-Day EZ-2 Lotto and Swertres Draws conducted at the PCSO Draw Court in Mandaluyong City, and visited a PCSO lotto outlet to see the actual selling and buying of Lotto, Keno and Scratch-It tickets firsthand.

Thailand may consider legalizing casinos after the next general elections in late 2018, Visanu Vongsinsirikul, a lecturer in economics at Dhurakij Pandit University, and a specialist in the gaming industry, told Voice of America. “After the election this issue [of the casinos] will be raised again. When the election passes it means the government has the rights of the [electorate]. So the government will dare to make a decision about this. I’m quite sure that Thailand will have a legal casino, they will have in the near future,” Visanu told VOA.

Underground lottery

THB 102 billion

State lottery Illegal casinos Football betting

THB 76.7 billion THB 46.3 billion THB 38 billion

(Source: Chulalongkorn University)

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017



Proxy betting, new properties fuel growth The Philippines is tipped to be one of Asia’s best-performing gambling markets again in 2017 despite concerns over how a smoking ban may affect casinos and an attack on Resorts World Manila that left 37 people dead.


ccording to analysts from Morgan Stanley, gross gaming revenue is likely to have grown 26 percent in 17Q2, driven by proxy betting from foreign VIPs. The mass sector is also likely to have grown, but at a lower rate. “We expect industry EBITDA to grow 8 percent quarter-on-quarter and 27 percent year-on-year to PHP7 billion in 17Q2, driven by Bloomberry and Melco, partially offset by Travellers,” said the brokerage. Visitor arrivals to the Philippines were up 13 percent year-on-year to April, while both Melco Resorts & Entertainment and Bloomberry Resorts posted strong 17Q1 results, with revenue up about 74 percent and 40 percent respectively. Travellers International Hotel Group, which owns Resorts World, has suffered as the focus in Manila shifts to the Entertainment City hub and posted a slight

decline in operating revenue in the quarter. Universal Entertainment’s Okada Manila is now up and running as the third IR to open in the zone. At the World Gaming Executive Summit in July, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp Chair Andrea Domingo said the market

We expect industry EBITDA to grow 8 percent quarter-on-quarter and 27 percent year-on-year to PHP7 billion in 17Q2, driven by Bloomberry and Melco, partially offset by Travellers.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

had not suffered any dramatic drop off in June as a result of the Resorts World attack, in which a lone gunman burst onto the casino floor and set fire to tables, resulting in death from smoke inhalation. For the full year, Domingo said she expects Pagcor’s own casinos to generate some PHP60 billion in revenues, compared with PHP55.1 billion last year. However, some analysts have noted that the incident will help to fuel perceptions that the Philippines is not a safe destination, especially amongst Chinese travellers. Casino executives in the country have commented that overcoming that view will be key to achieving the market’s full potential. Morgan Stanley expects the Resorts World incident to have reduced GGR in the month by about PHP1.7 to 2 billion (US$33.6 to


Udenna finalizing funding for Mactan resort The Udenna Group, developer of the Lapu-Lapu Leisure Mactan integrated resort, is set to complete the funding requirements needed for development, Business World reports. “The debt component is given by China Bank. They are very supportive,” Dennis A. Uy said in an interview with Business World, adding that the agreement will be signed soon. In May, the Udenna Group sold a 25 percent stake in listed oil company Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, raising PHP4 billion (US$80 million) to help finance the development of the Mactan IR in Cebu.

Live shooter drills for Manila casinos

After completing bomb threat and response exercises, Manila’s hotels and casinos are set to undergo active shooter exercises. According to Manila Police District (MPD) director Chief Supt. Joel Coronel, at least seven hotels including the Manila Hotel and Diamond Hotel, as well as casinos operated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) will take part in the drills. “We will be having a seminar first, then contingency planning with the establishments’ security officers,” Coronel said. After that, simulation drills will be conducted, teaching staff how to properly react to active shooter scenarios.

US$39.5 million). It said it expects business for the overall market to recover in July. There is also uncertainty over a draconian ban on smoking in public places announced by President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this year. According to Domingo, under the new legislation, casinos will be able to allocate up to 20 percent of the total casino space to smoking, as long as there are buffer zones. However, further details are not yet available and if that position were to change, the outlook for the market may be altered significantly. “In most jurisdictions where total smoking bans were implemented, gaming revenue initially declines about 12 percent. In some jurisdictions and casino environments, the drop can be as high as 20 percent,” said Andrew Klebanow, senior partner at Global Market Advisors. This would be especially true in the Philippines,

where the majority of international casino visitors come from other Asian countries where the incidence of smoking remains relatively high. According to the 2015 Global Adult Tobacco survey by the World Health Organization, about 23 percent of the Philippine population smokes, or 17.3 million people. That rises to about 42 percent for adult males. In China about 52 percent of men smoke, the same survey found. As regulators reacted to the fallout from the Resorts World attack, a further potential negative emerged for the country’s casinos. A House of Representatives bill was filed seeking to impose an entry fee for all casinos. According to a note from Morgan Stanley, if implemented it would have a significant impact on the mass segment of the market. “Filipino gamblers view gambling more as an entertainment compared to Chinese gamblers

in Macau, in our view”. The Philippines’ GDP per capita is 60 percent lower than China’s, and the entry fee may deter grind mass and family customers. But the note also added that Morgan Stanley “remained positive” on the long-term development of the industry because a similar bill surfaced back in 2014 but made no progress. That, combined with improved infrastructure and a strong economy, should drive higher traffic and spending per capita. When it comes to VIP and premium mass, Morgan Stanley also said the impact would be “less”. “[This is because] the minimum bets of premium mass and VIP tables are generally PHP3,000 or above and hotel room rates are generally PHP8,000 or above (PHP11,000 during the weekend). Also, this will not affect proxy/phone betting in VIP rooms.”

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017


Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Philippine’s largest integrated resort, the 44-hectare Okada Manila, is continuing to roll out its attractions, opening up its giant water fountain feature and 116 deluxe accommodations at the end of March. The $2.4 billion casino resort held a soft opening on Dec. 21, and officially commenced casino operations on Dec. 30. The resort will feature two Y-shaped hotel towers with a total of 993 rooms, a casino floor with about 500 table games and 3,000 electronic gaming machines, a 90,000 square-feet nightclub and beach club entertainment complex. It will also have an 8,409 square-meter retail promenade, a world-class spa and 40 restaurants ranging from casual, buffet, and international dining. The restaurants include culinary masterpieces of Michelin-star chef Hirofumi Imamura at the Japanese Kappou Imamura restaurant.

Bloomberry Resorts Bloomberry Resorts Solaire is a 16-hectare gaming and integrated resort complex along Asean Avenue in Parañaque City. The Bay Tower of Solaire consists of a casino with an aggregate gaming floor area of approximately 18,500 square meters (including approximately 6,000 square meters of exclusive VIP gaming areas), with approximately 1,400 slot machines, 295 gaming tables and 88 electronic table games. Bay Tower has 488 hotel rooms and 15 specialty restaurants. Contiguous to the existing Solaire Resort and Casino, the Sky tower consists of a 312 all-suite hotel, an additional ten VIP gaming salons with 66 gaming tables and 223 slot machines. It also




2020E (Source: Pagcor)

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

includes a certified 1,760-seat lyric theatre. For the three months to end-March, Solaire registered robust growth across all segments with all time high VIP volume, mass table drop and slot coin-in for 2017. VIP volume, mass table drop and slot coin-in, grew by 34.7 percent, 23.7 percent and 26.2 percent, respectively, for 2017 compared to the same period in the prior year. Gross gaming revenue increased by 39.7 percent.

City of Dreams The $1.3 billion City of Dreams Manila is owned by Belle Corp and Melco Resorts & Entertainment’s local unit. City of Dreams Manila has six hotel towers with approximately 950 rooms in aggregate, including VIP and five-star luxury rooms and high-end boutique hotel rooms, a wide selection of restaurants and food & beverage outlets, a 4,612.44 square meter family entertainment center in collaboration with Dreamworks Animation, a live performance stage, two international nightclubs and a multilevel car park. It includes an approximately 260-room Crown Towers hotel, Hyatt City of Dreams Manila, a 365-room hotel managed by Hyatt International Corporation and Asia’s first Nobu Hotel with 321 rooms. Total operating revenue for 17Q1 rose 74 percent, with casino revenue making up 93 percent of the total. Rolling chip volume rose to PHP121.3 billion from PHP70.9 billion, while for mass revenue the table games drop

was PHP7.7 billion up from PHP5.7 billion the year earlier

Resorts World Manila Travellers International Hotel Group, a joint venture between Genting Hong Kong and Alliance Global, is the owner and operator of Resorts World Manila. The hotel room count for the group’s three hotels (Maxims Hotel, Remington Hotel, and Marriott Hotel Manila) remains at 1,226. Phase 2 at RWM is nearing completion with the addition of 228 rooms in the Marriott West Wing in 17Q4. Phase 3, which will consist of three hotels, Hilton Manila, Sheraton Manila Hotel, and Maxims II, will be completed by 2018. It will also include an additional gaming area, new retail spaces and six basement parking decks. PAGCOR has approved new gaming capacity of 420 gaming tables and 4,148 gaming machines at the resort. The casino was the target of a deadly attack by a lone gunman in June who set fire to casino tables killing 37 people. The company has now been given permission to reopen and is creating a new casino on the ground and third floors of the property. The second floor will no longer be used for gaming, but will contain other non-gaming activities. Company officials may face charges of negligence as a result of the incident. In 17Q1, parent company Travellers reported total revenue slipped to PHP5.26 billion from PHP5.57 billion.


Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017



Forest-themed mass floor opens as revamp plan rolls on Genting Malaysia continues to roll out new facilities under a RM10 billion ($2.3 billion) revamp plan, though a theme park development with 20th Century Fox, seen as a key driver for growth, has now been delayed until the second quarter of next year.


he company opened the first and second floor of its new Sky Casino in March, which will cater to the mass market, while the third and fourth floors, dedicated to VIP and gold card members, are expected to come online in the third quarter. According to a report by Alliance DBS Research analyst King Yoong Cheah the new floors will add a further 250 tables, increasing capacity by about 40 percent from the current 550 tables in operation. The casino, which is in the Genting Highlands, has a forest theme and boasts being spacious enough to fit two 747 planes. “We were impressed by the new casino’s high ceilings and contemporary design and floor layout,” analysts from CIMB wrote after a visit to the new property. “We also think that it could potentially hold more gaming tables and slot machines as the space is not fully utilized yet. The casino is equipped with

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

ceiling atrium LED screens which feature different innovative content to create a relaxing and calming ambience for patrons.” The analysts noted that the games added were similar to its older casinos, with minimum bets set at RM25 or RM50 per game. The group held a soft launch for its Premium Outlets in June, while its Sky Avenue and Sky Plaza Shopping Malls were rolled out at the end of last year. All are expected to improve visitation to the resort, which is seen as the key driver for growth for Genting. Although the group has properties worldwide, about 80 percent of consolidated EBITDA comes from the Malaysian operations, while 60 percent of its visitors are day trippers. “Although additional gaming tables remain a key driver for its growth prospects, we continue to emphasize that sustained increase in visitations will be the key re-rating factor to sustain its earnings growth,” DBS said.

The brokerage expects visitation to rise from 19 million in 2015 to 24 million in 2018 and says it expects the company to hit its target of 30 million by 2020. However, given the strong domestic focus, it remains vulnerable to changes in consumer sentiment at home. The 20th Century Fox theme park, which will be a first for the studio in Asia, is now scheduled to open in the second quarter of next year, pushed back from the end of this year. TA Securities notes that management is in the process of finalizing the design of various rides. It said the old First World Casino and theme park have now been closed down to make way for a new indoor theme park. Although the Malaysian operations are steady, the group has run into headwinds in the U.S. over a project to manage the First Light Casino & Resort in Taunton, Massachusetts for the Mashpee Wampanoag (WM) Tribal Gaming Authority. Genting invested $347.4 million in


GROSS GAMING REVENUE Gaming tables (units)

Slot machine (units)





















(Source: Genting, AllianceDBS)

The casino is equipped with ceiling atrium LED screens which feature different innovative content to create a relaxing and calming ambience for patrons.

interest-bearing promissory notes by the tribe in return to run the casino seven years from the opening date. However, that investment is now in doubt due to issues linked to land-use rights. The legal action may be protracted. “The group will work with the Tribe to review all options available for its investment in the promissory notes, and assess its recoverability and impact to the group’s consolidated earnings and net assets for the financial year ending December 31 2017, Genting said in a statement to Bursa Malaysia. “The group is supportive of the Tribe’s endeavour to protect its land base and their associated development rights.”

Deputy PM orders Penang to get its house in order

Berjaya Sports says illegal gaming hurting business

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has ordered Penang police to crackdown on illegal gambling, which has escalated in the state. There is concern if the activity is not eradicated gambling kingpins will seek to influence general elections. “I order the state police chief from today (to eradicate gambling). I do not want any more reports of kingpins comprising the big towkays in Penang,” he was cited by local media as saying in June.

Berjaya Sports Toto says intense competition from illegal gaming activities coupled with rising costs and weaker consumer sentiment will make the financial year ending April 30, 2018 “challenging.” However it expects to maintain its market share of the number forecast operator business. For 16Q4 revenue fell 0.5 percent, while pre-tax profit fell 26.9 percent. The falls were mainly due to a weak performance at its main Sports Toto business in Malaysia, which were partly offset by its Philippine business.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017




Problem gambling fears stoke opposition By Michael Penn

As both cities and operators jostle for position in their efforts to host Japan’s first casinos, some may be underestimating one key factor. The single-biggest political obstacle faced by local governments and international operators as they select possible locations for Japanese IRs is the intense public fear about potential negative effects from gambling addiction.


ocal communities do not want to see their own sons and daughters become addicted to slot machines and table

games, nor do they want to see addicts from afar roll up and cause disruption within their quiet towns. To date, not a single opinion poll has shown a majority or even a plurality in

favor of hosting casinos in any part of Japan. Policymakers are clearly aware of this major challenge and so it is little surprise that the officials and experts compiling the IR Implementation


Bill are reportedly adopting a highly restrictive Sapporo Ohta Hospital found that 91 percent approach. The plan will likely limit the casino of his patients were involved with pachinko. element to within a single, small portion of each In fact, 75 percent of the problem gamblers he IR, with entry tightly monitored and controlled. worked with were addicted to pachinko alone, In an innovation that is likely to be with no connection at all to horse racing or any particularly controversial, Japan residents other legal or illegal form of gambling in Japan. may be required to present a MyNumber However, these legions of problem identification card. The MyNumber system, gamblers have remained “invisible” to Japanese too, is decidedly unpopular. As of May, only policymakers because pachinko remains legally about 9 percent of the Japanese public had classified as a form of leisure activity and not obtained such a card, with the large majority as a form of gambling. An open admission palpably unenthusiastic about a system that of Japan’s very serious and mostly untreated gives the government a greater degree of gambling problem would inevitably shine a information about their personal activities. harsh light on the central role of pachinko This could even have an effect on Japanese addiction, and policy makers have so far willingness to visit a future casino. been highly reluctant to grapple with such Meanwhile, the specific anti-addiction an entrenched and wealthy industry. measures being proposed for the next Professor Kawaguchi reports that the legislative session in “average” problem the autumn are, for gambler in Japan tends the most part, simply to be a male who first gambling being copied from what began spending a lot of has been done in other time at pachinko parlors addiction is a jurisdictions, and have during his university social malady that little or nothing to do days. He might later with indigenous efforts enter a company as a has been almost to combat gambling salaryman and have entirely ignored by addiction. his own family, but There is a very good as the years pass he Japanese officials reason for that—because acquires a growing up until this point. gambling addiction is a debt from his gambling social malady that has activities, which may been almost entirely gradually slip further ignored by Japanese officials up until this point. and further out of control. What little statistical information exists In the vast majority of cases, families try to about problem gambling is contained within deal with their own problem gambler privately two surveys affiliated with the Ministry of so as to avoid public shame and because they Health, Labor, and Welfare. A 2014 survey don’t know what they can really do about it. estimated that there were roughly 5,360,000 This often encompasses other family members problem gamblers in Japan, making up about trying to pay off the gambling debts of their 4.8 percent of the nation’s population. A loved one. Some few thousands of addicts different survey released in March of this year are eventually treated at a hospital or join the put the number at 2,830,000, or 2.7 percent thousand-or-so strong Gamblers Anonymous, of the population. but access to these treatment options remain In an exclusive interview with AGB, Yukiko far below the level of the actual societal need. Kawaguchi of Uekusa Gakuen University, one What concerns Professor Kawaguchi most of Japan’s handful of scholars tracking the issue, is that even some of the most basic research says that she believes the true number probably about gambling addiction remains to be done in lies between these two figures. She suggests that Japan. The available statistics are not reliable, and those who are hardcore addicts may be closer credible information about effective prevention to the 2.7 percent figure, and those with less and treatment strategies is lacking. Essentially, intense addictive tendencies could reach close the Japanese national infrastructure to combat to the 4.8 percent mark. The specific results gambling addiction has yet to be built. depend, she believes, on which definitions one Kawaguchi observes, “The recovery rate uses to identify problem gamblers. from gambling addiction is not so bad, so if Scholars agree that the overwhelming source the government makes an effort, it can improve of Japan’s current gambling addiction problem the situation. As the first step, though, we is pachinko. A 2008 study by Kensuke Ohta of need more research.”

GROSS GAMING REVENUE GGR $25b (CLSA) GGR $5b - $10b (Fitch) GGR 2025 $20b (Morgan Stanley) GGR 2030E $24.2b from six locations (Source: Global Market Advisor)

Tokoname seeks IR at airport site The city council of Tokoname has called on Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura for an accelerated feasibility study for siting an IR within their municipality. Tokoname city is host to Chubu Centrair International Airport, and their concept is that an IR might be built on the same reclaimed island upon which the airport itself sits. City Council chairman Kazutoshi Kawahara was quoted by the local media as saying, “We should firmly deal with the issue of gambling addiction and build a wonderful IR on the airport island.”

Hokkaido eyes single resort The Hokkaido prefectural government has reportedly decided that only one IR licensing bid from the local region will be submitted to the national government. At least three municipalities had expressed an interest -- Tomakomai city, Kushiro city and Rusutsu village. The prefectural government will reportedly wait until the expected IR Implementation Bill is passed into law, and then it will establish a committee of local experts to select the site from among the candidate municipalities.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017



Stormy seas North Korea is seeking foreign investment to fund a $20 million casino cruise ship aimed at boosting tourism in the region. But international sanctions and cultural differences mean the initiative may never set sail.


hen considering vacation options, most holidaymakers don’t place North Korea high on their list of choices. Strict visa requirements, a lack of luxury accommodations and a trigger-happy dictatorial leader are enough to deter even the most intrepid explorers. But this is something the Hermit Kingdom is trying to change, inviting foreign investors to fund an international casino cruise program run out of its Mount Kumgang tourist zone in a bid to boost visitation to the country. The region, a special development zone and port close to the country’s border with South Korea, is calling on overseas entities to invest $20 million in a 30,000-tonne casinoequipped cruise ship, which will operate routes between South East Asia and Russia. A statement on the region’s official website said it was “trying to diversify international tourism at the world-renowned Mount Kumgang by using cruise ship services.” It is certainly a bold move from the reclusive totalitarian nation, whose economy is starting to crack under the pressure of sanctions imposed by the United Nations, USA, European Union, South Korea and Japan. But does it present any real opportunities for overseas investors, particularly given the inclusion of an on-board casino? And if it does, do international sanctions scupper any potential investment from the get-go? To answer these questions, it is important to understand whether there is an appetite for gambling in North Korea, and whether a casino-cruise ship will be enough to draw more visitors to the country. The state of play Gambling is illegal in North Korea, except for tourists. There are two known casinos in

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017



China travel ban to hit sales

GGR KRW 1.28trn ($1.14b)


Kangwon Land KRW 1.63trn


China’s ban on tour groups to South Korea is likely to hit profit at the country’s casinos hard, according to analysts. Three Korean casino operators - Kangwon Land, Grand Korea Leisure (GKL), Paradise Casino are estimated to deliver a combined operating profit of KRW738 billion ($650 million) this year, which would be a four-year low and a 11.3 percent drop from last year’s KRW835.6 billion, Maeil Business reports. China imposed the ban in March after South Korea agreed to deploy a U.S. missile shield.

(Source: STB)

Paradise H1 sales drop Paradise Entertainment, which in April opened South Korea’s first IR, reported H1 casino sales fell 20.7 percent to about KRW241.7 billion (US$210.3 million). Table games were down 21.6 percent to KRW224.7 billion, while machine revenue declined 5.4 percent to KRW16.9 billion. For the month of June, total casino revenue was down 27.6 percent.

the country; the Pyongyang Casino inside the Yanggakdo Hotel in the capital and another inside the Emperor Casino at the Rason special economic zone. Both properties are owned and operated by foreign investors, the former by Macaubased SJM Holdings, with the latter belonging to Hong Kong’s Emperor Group. They have performed well in the past, driven by a steady rise in the number of Chinese tourists visiting the country. “The casinos hire mostly Chinese dealers and accept hard currency like US dollars,” says Tim Lee, director of public relations at Daemin Consulting. “North Korean tourism is heavily dependent on Chinese visitors, and therefore casinos are considered an important source of earning foreign money,” he adds. Chinese appetite for travel is on the rise, too, with cruising an increasingly popular choice among the middle class who see it as luxurious and exclusive. According to the Asian Cruise Association, more than 1.6 million Chinese people will cruise each year by 2020. For these tourists, gambling plays a huge part of their holiday experience. So it’s easy to see why North Korean authorities are looking to a cruise casino to drive visitation to the country. “A casino cruise ship is ideal from the perspective of the North Korea authorities,” says Andray Abrahamian, an honorary fellow

at Macquarie University in Australia. “They can generate revenue while keeping gamers on a nice, isolated ship.” Past failures This is not the first time North Korea has tried to boost tourism and revenues via an international casino cruise program. The Royale Star, believed to be the cruise ship up for sale, previously ran trips between the port of Raijin and Mount Kumgang. The ship, formerly owned by Singapore’s Danny Tay, operated casino cruises into international waters from Singapore before shifting to North Korea in February 2013. But it only ran the route a handful of times, and now Royale Star sits idle in the Kosong Port, just outside the Mout Kumgang National Park, awaiting further foreign investment. Lee says South Korean conglomerate the Hyundai Group also tried to operate sightseeing cruise excursions to North Korea back in 1998, running a four-day trip between Sokcho and Wonsan. “The business failed to grow due to a lack of demand leading to a heavy loss. It was finally terminated when South Korea banned all tourists from visiting North Korea after a guard shot a visitor dead in 2008 at Mount Kumgang,” he adds. These past failures will undoubtedly provide cause for concern for international investors, who will also be mindful that the

country is under sanction and doing little to calm the waters and improve international relations. In fact, its repeated missile tests are turning up the heat and may lead to even tighter sanctions. Indeed, some see the program as something of a two-fingered salute to those applying the squeeze to the North Korean economy; that the Hermit Kingdom is essentially saying it will find its own way of stimulating growth and revenues. “The North Korean economy has been struggling and it is only going to get worse as China recently stopped importing coals from the country, while the Trump administration continues to apply maximum pressure,” says Lee. “As a result, North Korea is seeking to attract new groups of international investors and visitors from more friendly regions like Russia and South East Asia to overcome its economic crisis.” On paper, the opportunity to invest in a casino cruise business is an attractive one. The Asian cruise industry is on track to triple in size by the end of the decade, and travellers certainly have an appetite to gamble. But the waters around North Korea remain choppy, and international investors will be unwilling to navigate round international sanctions and a government shrouded in secrecy when similar opportunities exist elsewhere. Abrahamian says sanctions will “complicate things” for investors and that North Korea is “a tricky place to invest”.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017



Bookies embrace online future Russia’s bookmakers see their future as being online, with some major players closing down traditional betting shops to focus on the interactive sector.


his year’s Russia Gaming Week reflected that trend with some bookies saying they had eschewed booths at the show to channel funds instead to the development of online services. Bingo-Boom president and chairman of the Association of Bookmakers, Konstantin Makarov, said that this year his company decided to spend the money usually allocated for booths at RGW on the development of interactive bookmaking. Another bookmaker, PariMatch, announced on the eve of the conference that it has closed its 27 betting shops across Russia “after it analysed mid-term and short-term trends of the Russian and global market.” Its CEO Anatoly Merezhko said that “we think that the future lies with online gambling and dynamically developing mobile betting.” There are some some 7,000 bookmaking outlets across Russia, but the number is shrinking as the picture in the online world becomes clearer. Russia passed legislation to regulate online sports betting in 2014, though its implementation was repeatedly delayed. The industry will be governed through a system of Self Regulatory Organizations with all payments to be processed through a centralized system, known as TSUPIS. The first of which was finally launched in early 2016. Although the legislation appears to be still evolving, the government has been cracking down hard on international operators offering their services to Russians from outside the country to foster growth at home. Gibraltarbased Betvictor was one of the most recent to leave, announcing its exit in February. They also prohibit online casino games and online poker. There are currently only around 10 bookmakers approved to offer online wagers

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

to Russian punters, with 1xbet the traffic leader, followed by Fonbet and Liga Stavok. However, in a sign that there is still international interest in the market, Bwin in early June launched a new service with ambitious plans. Bwin Russia CEO Dmitry Sergeev said that the original work on the project began more than two years ago when he was working for Digital Betting. is a joint project of GVC Holdings and two companies belonging to businessman Alexander Mamut, Digital Betting and Rambler & Co. At that time, the TSUPIS had not yet been launched, and illegal bookmakers were uncontrolled. But he said the company decided to be proactive, and the subsequent changes in the law allowing legal bookmakers to actively develop products proved that it was the right decision. According to Sergeev, the annual volume of Russian e-betting amounts to RUB140 billion ($2.4 billion), of which 30 billion roubles translates to bookmakers’ annual profits. Digital Betting, which got a bookmaking license in March 2016 and later joined the First SRO [self-regulating organisation] of bookmakers, will operate the business under license and be responsible for marketing and global support of the platform. The two Russian companies are expected to invest about EUR10 million per year on’s development. The company has a target to gain a 10 percent share of the market and become one of the top three in Russia. It expects to start processing the first e-bets in September and focus on online only. First SRO president Yuri Krasovsky expressed his optimism over Bwin’s move, calling it proof of “normal control over bets in Russia and foreign bookmakers’ desire to tap into the Russian market.”

Lawyer Maria Lepeshchikova said Bwin will have to abide by the same rules as local licensees. “They must acquire a company that has a Russian license. All holders of [bookmaking] licenses work in accordance with established rules. The only exception is companies that received a license before 2010, which have to fulfill slightly less harsh requirements,” she added. As a reflection of the interest in the online sector, one of the most popular sessions at RGW was the latest on the bookmaking legislation. In particular, experts discussed the newly adopted law which requires 5 percent of their profits from sports on which they take bets to be allocated to development of sports. In return they are able to advertise during events.



Summit Ascent to be lone player for two more years

NagaCorp renames Russia project

Summit Ascent rolling chip turnover

Summit Ascent Holdings, operator of Tigre de Cristal in Vladivostok, is set to continue to get free reign over the market for at least the next two years, says Union Gaming. The brokerage said its VIP segment will be the main winner, forecasting an 80 percent growth in VIP volume in 2017. The casino saw VIP growth of 160 percent in 17Q1. An online visa application system, which goes live in three weeks, should also help drive volume too, said the brokerage. “Ultimately, we like the odds of a jurisdiction that is friendly with China to enjoy the benefits of outbound Chinese tourism, which, when combined with access to the underpenetrated northeast of China, makes for a compelling long-term growth story.”

NagaCorp has renamed its Russian casino project in Primorye to Naga Vladivostok, local media reports. “The second casino in the Primorski Kray will be called not Mayak, as investors earlier said, but Naga Vladivostok. Obviously, the new version sounds more serious, which can’t but please us,” said head of the Primorsky Territory Development Corporation, Andrei Folomeev. This is the second renaming of NagaCorp’s Primorye project, which initially was dubbed Naga Entertainment City before being changed to Mayak (Russian for ‘lighthouse’ or ‘beacon’).

(in million HK$)

2015 Q4


2016 Q1







2017 Q1

4,977 (unaudited) 3,457

(Source: Summit Ascent Holdings Limited)

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017





Problem gambling more harmful than drug use, research shows With problem gambling firmly in the spotlight in Asia as Japan prepares its casino legislation, new research from New Zealand claims the harm from gambling is almost double that of drug use, bipolar affective disorder, eating disorders and schizophrenia combined. Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017


he research was carried out for the New Zealand Ministry of Health by Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and Central Queensland University (CQU) and claims to be a first in NZ and only the second in the world to measure the aggregate “burden of harm” attributed to problem gambling. It claims gambling creates 3 times more harm than drug use, 2.5 times that of diabetes and 2.1 times that of osteoarthritis. However, it does fall short of harm from anxiety and depression and hazardous drinking behaviour. The research uses a standard public health methodology endorsed by the World Health Organisation to compare gambling to other well-researched health issues. “The harm associated with gambling is substantially more than we originally thought,” says Professor Max Abbott, Director of the AUT Gambling and Addictions Research Centre. “These findings are unexpected and will have a huge impact internationally.” “While serious problem gamblers and people close to them experience the greatest harm, the study shows that many other people are harmed by gambling. In fact, low-risk gamblers are associated with the greatest proportion of New Zealand’s gambling-related harm.” “This means that a significant amount of gambling-related harm in the community arises from people who don’t meet the psychiatric definition for gambling disorder. The reason for this is that people with lower risk and problem levels greatly outnumber those at the severe end of the spectrum.” Low and moderate-risk gamblers accounted for 80 percent of gambling-related harm; serious problem gamblers the remaining 20 percent. The New Zealand government says that gambling venues in the country are generally getting better at helping problem gamblers, but need to do more. Late last year, The Department conducted a mystery shopper exercise to assess how well venue staff were fulfilling their Gambling Act obligations for preventing and minimizing gambling harm. Trained researchers, displaying signs of harmful gambling, tested staff responses at 120 pokie bars and clubs and all six casinos across the country. “We set some high standards for this exercise, expecting staff to demonstrate that they care for their gambling customers,” said New Zealand Internal Affairs’ Director of Gambling Compliance, Gareth Bostock. “Few operators in the class 4 gambling sector


The harm associated with gambling is substantially more than we originally thought,” says Professor Max Abbott, Director of the AUT Gambling and Addictions Research Centre. “These findings are unexpected and will have a huge impact internationally.

met all expectations, but many more met partial expectations. So we are seeing improvements, particularly around how operators want to help venues to care for their customers. “There were improvements in casinos, but some more is required here too. The three casino companies in New Zealand have put considerable focus on harm minimization practice since 2014 and we have noted a significant change in culture with a stronger focus on minimising harmful gambling. Bostock noted that casino operator SkyCity did particularly well in this regard. “The four SkyCity casinos made significant improvements, not only to systems and processes but also to culture and staff attitude towards helping those who display signs of harmful

gambling,” he said. Preliminary results from the Ministry of Health’s 2016 Health and Lifestyle survey indicate there is no increase in the overall prevalence of problem gambling from 2014 to 2016. The Department said it is using the latest mystery shopper research to target its regulatory activity and help the sector lift performance. It will tackle poor performing operators in particular through education and training in partnership with the Health Promotion Agency; inspect venues for harm minimisation practices; use sanctions where appropriate. “Where we identify poor performance we will work with societies on appropriate action,” Mr Bostock said. “The licence for an individual venue will still be open to cancellation.


SkyCity chair makes way for new blood

GGR 2015/16 NZ$2.21b

SkyCity Entertainment Group chairman Chris Moller will retire from the board, effective December 31, 2017. He was first appointed a director of SkyCity in December 2008, and was voted in as chairman in 2016. “By the time I retire, I will have been a director of the company for 9 years and chairman for 5 years and I consider this to be an appropriate time in the case of SKYCITY to invite the board to refresh its leadership,” he said. Taking his place will be Rob Campbell, who has been invited to become the chairman-elect until he takes over on January 1, 2018.


TAB $342m


Lotteries $437m


Casinos GGR $586m


Non-casino pokies $843m


SkyCity debuts Shanghai-themed restaurant New Zealand’s dominant casino operator has opened a new Shanghai-themed restaurant at its Federal Street dining precinct, giving a nod to the increasing importance of the China market to revenue. Huami is inspired by Shanghai during the French Concession period. “SkyCity saw an opportunity for a premium yet authentic Chinese dining experience,” group CEO Graeme Stephens said.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017



Book-making mega merger not seen scaring foreign investors Australia’s booming sports betting industry is still seen as being attractive to foreign investors despite the merger of local incumbents Tatts and Tabcorp, which are now expected to dominate the market.


he A$11.3 billion (US$8.7 billion) combination was approved in late June after a heated three-week battle at the Australian Competition Tribunal. It was the culmination of a prolonged period of opposition to the deal, which was first announced in October 2016. However, it’s not out of the woods yet as the country’s consumer and competition watchdog has filed for a judicial review of the decision. Opponents to the merger say the combination will reduce competition in the fastest growing area of the market - online and telephone betting. It also comes hot on the heels of new online gambling legislation, which far from bringing Australia in line with international standards, imposed a more restrictive regime.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

So is there room for further expansion, or will it lose its lustre for overseas players? Sports betting has undoubtedly been gaining traction in the Australian gaming market, with growth far outpacing that of pokies or lottery in the country. In the 2014-15 period, total sportsbetting expenditure rose 30.1 percent to A$815 million ($618.5 million), compared to a mere 4.8 percent increase in EGM expenditure in the same period. “The massive growth in sports betting is unrivalled, I think, in the history of Australian gambling,” said Dr Charles Livingston, a gambling researcher at Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine at the time. “I think this latest surge of growth is really directly attributable to the massive

marketing and advertising campaigns that the online bookies have been engaging in in the last few years... fuelled by the takeover of local bookies by international operators,” he said. Tabcorp has argued that the merger would help fight against the increasing competition from corporate bookmakers, as punters move away from brick-and-mortar gambling towards online and mobile punting. It said that corporate bookmakers had doubled their turnover in the last five years, commanding more than A$12 billion in national turnover, which amounts to about 40 percent of the wagering market. Counsel for Tatts Group, Rod Smith said the wagering market had come to be dominated by global gaming powerhouses.


Regulators mull action after China jails Crown employees Gambling regulators in NSW and Victoria are undecided whether they will take any action on Crown Resorts following the jailing of Crown employees in China for gambling offences. In June, nineteen staff from Crown Resorts pleaded guilty to gambling-related crimes in a trial held at Shanghai’s Baoshan district people’s court. Sixteen of the 19 defendants were fined a total of CNY8.62 million (US$1.3 million), while 11 of those 16 were also sentenced to a period of incarceration between 9 and 10 months.

Queensland nixes ASF project The Queensland Government has rejected the ASF Consortium’s proposed integrated resort development at the Southport Spit, local media reports. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said, “the Spit region of the northern Gold Coast was “unique” and wanted it preserved as parkland for future generations. “There is a bright future here on the Gold Coast but that bright future also involves keeping this area,” she said. The ASX-listed ASF Group will continue to have the opportunity to bid for a casino license in the Gold Coast, but it will no longer have the opportunity to develop a casino resort on the Spit site.

GROSS GAMING REVENUE All gambling Y14/15 A$22.73b


Sports betting $814,6m


Racing $2.81b

“The parents of these corporate bookmakers, if one puts aside CrownBet, are substantial overseas operators. Paddy Power owns Sportsbet and it’s one of the largest online wagering operators in the world.” The wagering giant also toted a number of public benefit arguments for the proposed merger, including at least A$50 million in additional funding that would flow to racing authorities each year as a result of the deal. Opponents were equally as vocal in condemning the deal, saying it will ultimately hit the consumer. Gregory Houston, founding partner of HoustonKemp Economists argued that the competitive detriments from the merger would outweigh its “limited public benefits”. “My analysis shows that the proposed transaction will lessen competition in a large, and the fastest-growing, part of the national wagering market, being the provision of online and over-the-telephone wagering services,” he said. CrownBet chief executive Matthew Tripp argued that the reduced competition in the racing and sports betting markets would allow the combined entity to raise commissions, effectively reducing prize


money for winning gamblers. Sportsbet chief Cormac Barry said a combined Tabcorp and Tatts Group would snap up around 60.3 percent of the market’s gross profit and gross revenue, which would exceed all other Australian wagering operators combined. Yet, other industry commentators believe that arguments against the merger may have been exaggerated and say they still expect Australia to be an attractive proposition for online gaming companies. The Tribunal in its judgement said that the declining market share of both Tabcorp and Tatts, particularly in retail and parimutuel wagering, where it holds exclusive

Total gaming (including poking and lottery) $19.1b Casinos $5.17b


+17.8% (Source: Queensland Treasury)

licenses, meant that the merged entity will still face substantial pressure, contrary to what opponents have said. Jamie Nettleton, partner at Addisons, says he believes Australia will still be an attractive location for foreign bookmakers, even post merger. “There is no doubt that the Australian gambling landscape will change materially as a result of the Tabcorp /Tatts merger,” said Jamie Nettleton, Partner of Addisons Lawyers. “Despite the above, Australia is still viewed internationally as a favoured jurisdiction for online gambling and I anticipate further operators making enquiries about the availability of an online licence.”

Australia is still viewed internationally as a favoured jurisdiction for online gambling and I anticipate further operators making enquiries about the availability of an online licence.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017



No fanfare for Imperial Pacific resort opening, amid protests Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific finally opened the casino portion of its $3.1-billion IR project on the Pacific island of Saipan in July, though the group still faces hurdles in completing the resort.


he company’s local unit, Best Sunshine International, won the license in 2014, beating out rival Marianas Stars Entertainment after an acrimonious campaign. The ambitious plans for the resort envisage a three-stage rollout. The first phase covers a surface area of 140,000 sq meters and includes the casino and a 340 room hotel with 15 luxury villas.. Designed by Steelman Partners, the resort features an ornate gold and white styled facade, and is perched on the waterfront at Garapan. However, only the casino portion of the

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

resort opened on July 6 after holding a preview in March. According to the company’s annual report, the IR will ultimately have 193 gaming tables and 365 slot machines providing significant extra capacity. It opened with about 70 tables and 190 machines. As of the end of last year, total investment to date had been $343 million. The company had been operating out of a temporary facility at the luxury T-Galleria mall, with just 48 tables and 141 slots, which has now closed. That property was generating eye-popping levels of turnover. Last year, it

reported $32.3 billion in VIP rolling volume from just 16 tables. Its monthly rolling figures were consistently topping $2 billion and hit a peak of $3.9 billion in September last year. Imperial Pacific said last year that further growth in rolling volume has only been held back by a lack of capacity at the temporary facility. Located just four hours from Shanghai, the company expects the idyllic natural environment and a visa-free access system to be major draws. However, it has been hit by a series of problems, which have caused delays. A major typhoon which swept across the islands


in 2015 created a scarcity of raw materials and affected infrastructure, while one of its main contractors is under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for hiring illegal labor, taking on Chinese workers who had entered as tourists. Despite the buzz generated around the project, the casino opened with little fanfare. About 300 guests were believed to have been in attendance, mostly Chinese visitors. “Imperial Pacific has committed to the development of world-class investment and high-end entertainment projects In Saipan,” CEO Kwong Yiu Ling said in a press release marking the opening. “We are very excited to transfer to the Imperial Pacific Resort Hotel Saipan. It is our first milestone and will definitely help to launch a new era of luxury in Saipan.” The opening was also hit by protests from Chinese workers who claimed they have not been paid back wages. They have been fighting since December for their pay. There is also concern over whether the company will be able to raise sufficient funding to complete the rest of the project. Both Moody’s Investors Services and Fitch Ratings have downgraded their ratings on the company’s debt. “The downgrade of the final ratings reflects the company’s need to fund advances to customers and bear customers’ credit risk due to the lack of licensed junket operators in Saipan,” Fitch said in a note at the time. “In addition, the company has still not secured sufficient long-term funding for the construction of its casino and resort.” The company said in its report that it expects to begin working with junkets once

they are granted licenses. It says it has received 18 expressions of interest, though so far only one has been approved. This is the first casino on Saipan and the second in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands after Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino, which remains closed after the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network discovered the latter violated federal anti-money laundering laws. Two more casino investors—Alter City Group and Bridge Investment Group—are in the process of completing their respective casino-hotel projects also on Tinian.



Korea 218,526


China 146,149


Japan 35,885


Legislators seek problem gambling program for poker A Saipan lawmaker wants to implement a responsible gambling program for the poker industry, Marianas Variety reports. The move came after lawmakers voted to reject a bill extending a deadline for poker arcades to move out of residential villages. “The people who need a responsible gambling program are not casino high rollers but those in the poker industry. It’s not too late to talk about [additional] regulations for the poker industry,” representative Angel Demapan said. “These are the things that we need to consider. We can provide a safer community if we implement a responsible gambling program.”

HKE to appeal labor penalty for Tinian casino Hong Kong Entertainment Overseas has notified the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands that it intends to appeal a ruling that it should pay a $191,400 civil penalty to the U.S. Labor secretary. The penalty is for willful and repeated violations of the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act during the operation of the now defunct Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino, which HKE owned, local media reports said.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017





China interest rising as visitation grows A strong economy, stable political environment and rising visitation are all helping to fuel growth in Cambodia’s casino industry, with a total of 79 licenses now having been issued in the country.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017




ost of the new licenses have been in Preah Sihanouk province, in the coastal province in the south, though with local Cambodians banned from gambling the majority of the existing properties are clustered around the borders to take advantage of demand from neighboring countries which also bar residents. “Casino companies continue to flow into Cambodia with a marked increase in Chinese-owned casino operations recently,” Ros Phirun, deputy director of the finance industry department at the Ministry of Economy and Finance was quoted as saying in local media. Visitation to the country has been strong, gaining 13 percent to 2.3 million in the first five months of 2017, while arrivals from the key China market jumped by 36 percent to 0.4 million visitors, overtaking Vietnam as the top source of arrivals. The Tourism Ministry is targeting 7 million arrivals by 2020, with 2 million of those coming from China. The International Monetary Fund is projecting real Gross Domestic Product to grow at 6.9 percent in 2017 and 6.8 percent in 2018, with an inflation rate of 3.2 percent and 3.1 percent respectively. The strong tourism growth figures were

reflected in the first half results of the country’s largest casino operator Nagacorp. The Hong Kong-listed company has a monopoly within a 200 km radius of the capital Phnom Penh. The company posted a 20 percent increase in net profit to $150.6 million, with its VIP business proving particularly robust, with rollings gaining 71 percent to to $7.8 billion. Mass market table buy-ins also saw growth, reaching $375.2 million, an increase of 23 percent year-on-year, while mass market EGM bills-in increased 15 percent to $853.1 million. Overall gross gaming revenue rose 40 percent to reach $386.8 million. NagaCorp said the growth in GGR and business volumes was attributable to continued confidence in the political climate and social order of Cambodia’s operating environment - leading to increasing visitation, especially from China. Confidence in Cambodia’s operating environment has also lead to increasing economic activity, resulting in increasing numbers of investors and a growing expat population in Phnom Penh and driving footfall into NagaWorld. “All metrics came in significantly above expectations,” Union Gaming wrote in a note. The firm has raised its 2017 EBITDA estimate by $10 million to $284 million and its 2018

estimate to $392 million from $387 million. “While current business volumes would suggest our estimates are going to be light, we think it is prudent to build in some cushion in order to allow Naga2 time to ramp to steady-state operations as we expect margins to temporarily take a hit.” The $369 million second-phase expansion is expected to open in October and will have a total built up area of about 110,105 sqm. It will add non-gaming amenities such as a theatre with a capacity of about 2,100 and additional gaming space, with a further 300 tables and 500 electronic gaming machines. The new hotel space at the complex will add 1,000 new rooms and 38 VIP suites. The founder and CEO of Nagacorp, Tan Sri Dr. Chen Lip Keong is currently in the process of consolidating his control over the operator through the concurrent conversion of bonds. The transaction will see his stake rise from about 38.98 percent to 65.4 percent. However, that decision has been challenged by hedge fund Nine Masts Capital, which claims minority shareholders would face unfair dilution to their holdings. Under a new formula put forward by Nine Masts, Chen’s stake would rise to just under 63 percent.

Betsoft provides content to Clubvegas999


Betsoft Gaming has signed a partnership deal with, operated by, a site that works in association with the prominent landbased casino Ha Tien Vegas Entertainment resort. Under the terms of the partnership, Clubvegas999. com will be offering Betsoft’s full suite of iGaming content, including the Slots3 collection of true 3D video slots and a robust assortment of classic table games. is primarily targeted toward the Southeast Asian iGaming community, with plans to push through and serve the greater Asian region.

Based on the number of casinos per location in Cambodia Thailand


Star Vegas

Poi Pet


NagaCorp 17Q1 VIP business tops forecasts Naga Resorts Phnom Penh

Kom Pot

Ha Tien Vegas


NagaCorp recorded a 34 percent increase in VIP rollings for the first three months of 2017, beating analysts’ expectations. VIP Business (rollings) were US$3.7 billion, compared to US$2.8 billion in 2016. Mass table buy-ins increased 13 percent to US$169.4 million, while EGM bills-in increased 10 percent to US$417.3 million. Union Gaming raised its full-year VIP business forecast following the results. “Seeing VIP volumes growing nicely at the capacityconstrained NagaWorld casino gives us a higher degree of confidence in Naga2, which should open later this year,” it said in a note.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017


Asia GamingAwards 2017 The second edition of the Asia Gaming Awards was held at The Parisian Macau in May at a gala dinner to celebrate the best in the Asian gaming industry. The event was attended by more than 300 industry members who gathered to congratulate the winners in 12 categories. A further two awards were granted for the best corporate social responsibility program and the three emerging leaders most likely to shape the future of Asian gaming. Here we celebrate the companies that took home the prizes.



Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment beat out other short-listed nominees including Bloomberry Resorts and Melco Resorts & Entertainment to win this highly coveted award, gaining a total of three on the night. Judges were looking for all-round achievements, including industry best practices, financial performance, vision and implementation.

We have a lot of plans to be able to keep trying to exceed the customer experience that we already offer at all of our Galaxy properties. Jason Barry, senior VP table games, Galaxy Entertainment Group.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

Galaxy Entertainment Group also took home the trophy for the best integrated resort for its Galaxy Macau property. This award was based on the best overall offering and performance of an integrated resort. Nominees, which included Wynn Palace and Genting Highlands, were judged on the diversity of entertainment options, quality of F&B and mix of revenue streams.


This award recognizes casino operations outside of an IR that excel in the areas of corporate governance and best practices, financial performance, strategy, vision and implementation, as well as brand recognition and loyalty from a casino operator. It was a trophy that recognizes those properties that are able to do more with less, with competitors in the category including the Widus Resort & Casino and Vietnam’s Grand Ho Tram.



Wynn Resorts managed to stop Galaxy from sweeping the board in the land-based sector, picking up the award for its new Wynn Palace on Cotai. Judges were looking for the venue that most resonates with the market from an architectural, construction and design perspective and how the sum of the parts has added value to the property’s performance and success.


It gives that uplifting feeling from when you enter the property to when you finally leave and that’s the design feel that we wanted to bring to Macau that we believe is unique in our industry.

Michael Clifford, senior VP gaming, Wynn Resorts.


Scientific Games, a strong winner with three awards in 2016, took home the best table games solution beating other short-listed suppliers, including Angel, Paltronics and Suzo Happ. Judges were looking for the product that has played a key role in enhancing the casino table games experience, factoring in added value and reliability, service and support, functionality, customer experience and revenue generation.

We are very happy to have won best table games solution. A lot of people work on getting out table games right for the markets, so this is a great honor. Ken Jolly, managing director - Asia, Scientific Games.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017



The Lightning Link is Aristocrat’s first progressive range with player selectable denominations. Judges in this category were looking for the slot machine solution that provided the best offering in the field in terms of customer experience, service, support and reliability. The company was also short-listed in this category for its 5-Dragons solution. In a tough field, it beat out popular rivals such as Scientific Games’ Du Fu Duo Cai and IGT’s True 3-D slots.

We are at the beginning of the journey here in Asia and we have really high hopes. Everyone is very proud of what Lightning Link has achieved and hopefully we’ll see the same level of success in Asia. Nathan Tuck, operations manager - Asia Pacific, Aristocrat.


The judges were looking for the electronic table game that stood out from its peers for its customer experience, reliability and service support. They also factored in the potential revenue generation and product added value. Japan’s Aruze beat short-listed nominees that included IGT, Scientific Games, LT Game and Interblock, with at least double the votes awarded to others.

We try to do things that are new and some things work great and others do not, but we always try to bring new things to the field and that continuous effort to bring something fun and entertaining has resulted in this award.

Joji Kokuryo, senior compliance

and operations manager, Aruze Macau.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017



This award was open to all suppliers to the land-based industry and was designed to recognize the company’s outstanding contribution to the industry. Judges were looking at elements such as the quality of its products and memorable levels of service, in short something that made them stand out from the crowd. Angel beat nominees such as Asia Pioneer, Paltronics, RGB and Suzohapp.


This was a big honor for us to get this kind of award and in order to move forward in the future, I think this will be a very good opportunity for us. Keijiro Kan, president, Angel Playing Cards.


SA Gaming, an online gaming platform provider, took home the prize for the best online casino solution. The award was designed to recognize achievement in terms of aesthetics and player experience; integration and innovation, reputation, reliability and support; and its financial performance. The category was open to either online casino products, or services and short-listed nominees including BBIN, BetConstruct and MicroGaming.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017



BBIN, with more than 20 years of experience in the Asian markets, took home the best online sports betting solution. As in many of the other categories, judges were looking for a product that stood out from its peers for its aesthetics and player experience; integration and innovation, reputation, reliability and support; and its financial performance. The company toppled the likes of Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill to bag the award.


We have been in China for more than 20 years and for the coming years we want to penetrate the South Asia markets, where Sportsbook will be very, very welcome. Rick Lin, VP, BBIN.



This category was for the standout product across the online gaming sphere, whether it be a platform, a game, or a software solution. Asia Gaming, which was founded in 2012, took home the prize. Its offerings include Pre-dealing 6 cards, VIP Private Room and Squeeze Baccarat and it now claims to be one of the most innovative gaming software developers in Asia.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017



This award covers everything from a platform, game, provider, app, service or solution for mobile offerings. The winner had to show a standout performance in terms of service, reliability, product aesthetics and player experience. Oriental Game and Play‘n Go were among the other short-listed nominees in this category. This was a tight race, but the company received top marks for all of the listed criteria.

We have strived to put a lot of effort into our product and everyone loves that. I think it is what makes us stand out. In terms of online and social casino, it’s a very hot area right now and we are just happy to be in the field, we love it. Wynn, Xiao Wu, head of product, Playstudios.


This award recognized the most meaningful campaign or activity by an operator in Asia. MGM China was the winner of this award, which took into account creativity and the impact in the local community. Sarah Rogers, senior vice president - strategy & corporate responsibility, says for a CSR program to be successful, it requires a corporate culture that starts from the top down and permeates all the way through the organization. Among its local work, the operator hosted a wedding for senior citizens who had not been able to afford the full ceremony when they were younger.

EMERGING LEADERS The three emerging leaders voted most likely to shape the future of the Asian gaming industry were: Nathan Carle, VP of Slot Operations, MGM China Long Jiawei Jace, Assistant Casino Manager, Marina Bay Sands, Rui Proença, Partner, MdME law firm.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017


Responsible values As operators around Asia vye for licenses in new markets, one corporate social responsibility expert suggests they should change their approach.


an Jones Blackhurst, executive vice president, public policy and corporate social responsibility, at Caesars Entertainment, says not enough is being done to explain what an IR is and the benefits it can bring to society. The focus has been on how much operators are willing to spend to enter the market, scaring consumers who don’t understand the concept and raising the potential for more stringent regulation to minimize harm. Jones, who was also Las Vegas’ first female mayor, argues a CSR-led approach would not only help to mitigate some of these concerns, but is also good for business as a whole. This may prove to be particularly true in Japan. “We get lost in the conversation about problem gambling. We are looking at programs that will help addictive behaviours, but what we should be doing is sitting down with local government and NGOs and community leaders and saying how else can we partner. What can we do that will make your city and region a better place to live?” she told AGB at the World Gaming Executive summit. “As you start meeting with those people you build a network and that’s what we haven’t done.” CSR programs are beginning to play a bigger role in Asian business, with growing recognition that such

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

policies can be revenue drivers. Some 66 percent of executives from 384 Asian companies polled in a survey by Ethical Corp, said they believe CSR was driving revenue, while 90 percent said it was becoming an increasingly important part of their business. So what makes a good CSR program? MGM Resorts won the 2017 Asia Gaming Award in this category in Macau in May. “What makes a successful CSR program is something that requires a culture from the top all the way down through the organization,” said Sarah Rogers, senior VP strategy and corporate social responsibility. “When you go to a community initiative, the culture is throughout, the most senior leaders all show up for these things, they walk the talk, it’s a culture of caring.” MGM’s program is based on four basic pillars: arts, the disabled, youth and senior citizens. In addition, the company is focusing on environmental sustainability and the promotion of small and mediumsized enterprises. About 80 percent of the operators’ procurement is now from SMEs. “The idea behind this is to support the diversification of the economy and to allow the little guys to come up. People want to see innovation with things being designed and made in Macau,” she said.


Aristocrat’s CSR program was also acknowledged by peers in the awards as one of the best in Asia. Sales and business development director Chris Rowe says it’s about more than just writing cheques. “The foundation of the CSR program should tie directly to a company’s values and culture. That’s the best way to ensure that CSR activity not only enriches communities but also motivates and engages staff members and other stakeholders, reinforces company culture and helps to articulate what you stand for as a business,” he said. Rowe says the company’s CSR activities in Asia have only been underway for two to three years, but the company is seeking to get behind more marginal causes that perhaps have not received such strong corporate and government support. One example of its program in Macau was supplying the latest games and cabinets to the Macau Polytechnic Institute’s Gaming Teaching and Research Centre (GTRC) at no cost, aiding them build a state-of-the-art teaching lab on campus. Rogers points out that in a relatively wealthy jurisdiction such as Macau, the programs also need a degree of creativity. One example at MGM was hosting a wedding ceremony for seniors who had not been able to afford the occasion when they were young. Elsewhere in emerging Asia, the role the operator plays in helping to develop the jurisdiction in which they operate can be even

more fundamental. For example, when NagaCorp entered Cambodia more than 20 years ago, the country was devastated and recovering from the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge atrocities. Founder and CEO Tan Sri Dr Chen Lip Keong initiated CSR efforts from the outset to help people rebuild their lives. The group’s activities are also based on four pillars: sports, education, community welfare and the environment. The company works with locals to implement the programs, which have included distributing 500 kg of rice a month to orphanages and homes or providing study materials to underprivileged children.

“A commendable CSR program is not a one-size-fits-all solution,” the company said in an email. “We know that each family, orphanage, community, village, province has its own set of challenges.” “NagaWorld strives to support the efforts of the local communities towards improving their lives by creating job opportunities, providing training, philanthropy and working together with them to implement sustainable solutions.” In 2012, the company formed the Naga Academy, which provides apprenticeship-based hospitality training covering 140 hospitality skills modules which are aligned with the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement for Tourism Professionals standards. It has also backed numerous sporting initiatives in the country, including the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) in regional and international games until 2018. So how much should a company spend? Caesars’ Jones says in the U.S., the average is for every $10 million in revenue earned, a company gives back $1.3 million in wages and social giving, though at Caesars the figure is $4.4 million. According to Ethical Corp., 35 percent of respondents to its survey would not disclose their spending levels on CSR, while only 9 percent had a budget of more than $1 million. It admits that the respondents were from a wide range of industries and size of business. However, the true value of the programs may be more intangible. Increasingly savvy consumers are likely to choose companies whose values they support, making CSR a highly valuable marketing spend.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017


Taking China out of the marketing loop

Sudhir KahlĂŠ

The last five years have seen a tumultuous business environment for casino operators in Australasia. Barely five years ago, CFOs of two of the largest concessionaires in Macau were predicting annual revenues in excess of US$100 billion by 2020. After all, they argued, less than five percent of the adults from China had been to Macau, and hence the “true� long-term potential was almost limitless.


ountries such as Singapore, the Philippines, and Australia also made similar bets. Billions of dollars have been spent on the building and upgrading of IR facilities for the well-

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

heeled Chinese high-roller. The prodigal Chinese tourist became a handy carrot for casino companies to dangle in front of federal or state governments in their pursuit of a casino license.


For sure, casinos the world over have benefited from the rising economic prowess of China over the last decade. However, the “true” revenue potential of Mainland China may turn out to be little more than the mechanical rabbit at a greyhound track. The Chinese government has become quite serious about the outflow of money across its borders, and is clamping down on overseas gambling activities on the part of its citizens. Crown Resorts in Australia learnt first-hand what can happen to an operator who contravenes gamblingrelated regulations in China. Besides coming down hard on Australian casino employees (and the South Koreans before them), the government has come up with a series of initiatives to stem the outflow of currency normally used for gambling overseas. Facial recognition features on ATMs in Macau, requiring collection of information about overseas transactions exceeding RMB 1,000 (US$147) that involve Mainland China issued bank cards, and the introduction of a currency declaration requirement for all travellers to

and from Macau are some of the regulations that have recently been put in place or will be taking effect very soon. The short- to medium-term economic outlook for China also looks relatively unpromising. A recent study by Harvard University’s Center for International Development has projected a dramatic fall in China’s economic growth to 4.41 percent in the coming years until 2025. Even Indonesia, Vietnam, Uganda, Kenya, and Mexico are expected to perform a lot better than the world’s second largest economy. Tighter regulations combined with a weaker economic performance forecast calls into question the attractiveness of Mainland China as a casino market. Given an impending slowdown in Chinese tourism and VIP business, what should be the course of action for casino operators in Macau, Singapore, and Australia? Australia’s Star Entertainment Group chairman John O’Neill advises, “We have got, at all costs, to avoid complacency with China,” and goes on to add, “There are other important markets in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia.” Perhaps, more important than the choice of market will be the choice of marketing strategy that casino operators in Australasia pursue. The new marketing strategy will be a departure from the “build it and they will come” paradigm to which Australasian casino operators have become so habituated. Macau, till 2014, was the beneficiary of huge pent-up demand from Mainland China and Hong Kong. Australia has, thus far, enjoyed a regional monopoly that will soon be ending, and Singapore operators are beneficiaries of a duopoly wherein the operators have profited from eager punters not just from China, but also from a healthy injection of revenue from the locals. To be successful over the next decade casino operators will, first and foremost, have to desist from their long-standing practice of taking their customers for granted. This shift in paradigm will then allow for serious efforts directed toward meaningful market segmentation, increasing employee engagement, devising loyalty programs that go beyond the “earn and burn” routine, and branding based on customer experience that creates a positive emotional connection with targeted customer segments. All of these activities will require a corporate culture that is truly committed to

employee well-being and customer-centrism. Several years ago, John Kotter, the resident organizational culture guru at Harvard, stated that organizations that invest in a culture of personal and professional development, among other factors, can outperform the competition by 500 percent or more. It is time that the casino industry realized the immense latent potential of harnessing the collective energy and efforts of its employees. As companies such as Zappos, Southwest Airlines, and the Container Store have repeatedly shown, investing in employees provides far greater returns than investing in a me-too customer loyalty program. I am not implying that employee engagement should occur at the expense of customers. Indeed, a company that is customer-centric and employee oriented will deliver a better customer experience. It is the experience that a customer has with a casino brand that ultimately determines a company’s net promoter score (NPS), customer loyalty, and spend. Ultimately, customer experience is the Holy Grail that alone can ensure enduring brand loyalty. As Peter Kriss from Medallia concludes, “It is time to stop the philosophical debate about whether investing in the experience of your customers is the right business decision. This isn’t a question of beliefs— it’s a question about the behaviour of your customers. Connect the right data, and not only is it possible to quantify the impact of the difference between delivering a great experience and delivering a poor one—but it will demonstrate to everyone in your organization just how big the impact can be.” To summarize, the next decade for the casino industry will involve significant weaning from the Mainland Chinese customers. Casino companies that perform well under the new paradigm will be those that create and execute a seamless marketing strategy with a dual focus on internal marketing and on delivering a truly outstanding customer experience. It will be interesting to observe which companies can rise amid the ebbtide of the Mainland Chinese customer. Sudhir Kalé, Ph.D., is the founder of GamePlan Consultants, a boutique consulting organization that creates value for gaming businesses through alignment in culture, values, branding, targeting, and customer experience. He has published more than one hundred articles on the marketing and management of casinos.You can reach Sudhir at

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017


Making sense of big data Casinos around the world have access to a goldmine of data, from retail transactions through to loyalty programs, and are increasingly mining that information to improve operational efficiency and marketing.


owever, until recently, operators lacked a solution to tap into the performance metrics of live table games in a cost-effective way. Casinos have been forced to rely on labor intensive old-fashioned manual counts during operational hours. That can mean money left on the table. Identifying the exact mix of tables at any one time to maximize revenue is a delicate balancing act. For example, two roulette tables with 4 players each may generate more revenue than one with 8 players, even though the casino has doubled its staff cost. Knowing elements such as spins or hands per hour and matching that against the dealer can provide information not only on staff performance, but whether the casino needs to immediately open more tables or not. A small Australian company now claims to have solved this problem through its technology, which it showcased at the recent G2E Asia in Macau. The technology allows casinos to boost table yields, improve efficiencies and monitor dealer performance in real

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

time, allowing for faster decision making. SenSen Networks has developed what it claims to be a world first in its SenGame solution. It’s a patentpending technology based on 3D Time of Flight (ToF) cameras that capture a multispectral, three-dimensional view of all gaming tables. “Casinos are running the table game operations some what blind - not knowing how many customers are actually playing, how much are they wagering, how long they are playing. The information that is captured by this system helps them serve their customers better, reward them better and deliver a more memorable experience to to their most loyal customers.� The colour, infrared and depth-sensing technology determines the number of players at each table, number and type of bets placed and the value of all wagers. The accuracy and stability of the solution has been established on live games of Blackjack, Baccarat and various kinds of Poker providing real-time tracking of player demand. The technology is able to monitor table occupancy; bet count; bet type; bet value; game start; game end; time


between games and hands per hour. It plans to add two further modules - determining the value of chips in the float tray in real time and cash counting for events where cash is exchanged on tables - before G2E in Las Vegas later this year. “The above is obtained for every game of every table completely automatically without any human inputs,” CEO and founder Subhash Challa told AGB. “This information is then used for yield optimization, heat maps, player grading & ratings and many other business intelligence and analytics applications.” “Traditional methods are all manual and are non-real time, error prone and fraud prone.” SenSen is a spinoff from the University of Technology Australia, where Challa was the professor of Computer Systems Engineering. “My research team came up with a few breakthroughs in video analytics that lead us to start the company in 2007. After a few years of investment into R&D and product development, we started offering commercial products for law enforcement agencies (speeding, tolling and parking), security applications, retail stores and shopping centres,” he said. “Our reputation of providing people counting lead us to casinos where I got a call out of the blue from Crown casino to provide occupancy around table games.”

SenSen was acquired in April this year by Australia-listed Orpheus Energy. In a May press release announcing the development of the technology, Crown Resorts’ group general manager of product, strategy and innovation, Tim Barnett spoke about how challenging it had been for casinos to gather accurate information from table games. The system is deployed on over 200 tables in Crown. “Casinos have traditionally relied upon manual processes to capture customer demand to forecast future demand but as with any manual process, this has been an inexact science,” he said. “It is my strong belief that by filling these information gaps through SenGAME, Crown will continue to be at the forefront of gaming innovation. We are committed to further deployment of this technology across our gaming floor.” Casino patrons around Asia have traditionally been wary of any form of capture of data technology. In a recent panel at G2E Asia Sudhir Kale, CEO and founder of Gameplan Consultants, pointed out for example that when he first became involved in gaming in Macau in 2003 the use of carded play was a “pathetic” 20 to 25 percent, mainly due to privacy concerns. However, Challa says the SenGame technology does not raise such issues. “While we capture data of every patron, we do not have any ability to tie it to a particular person other than when the property wants to award appropriate reward point for their loyalty customers who have already elected to voluntarily provide their information to obtain additional reward points in proportion to their spending.” Challa said the response from attendees at G2E Asia had been highly positive, with industry also providing feedback on potential shortcomings. “We are investing significantly into the R&D and are looking forward to working with properties in Asia, US and across the globe to role out our technology,” he said. There are other systems that can perform a similar task using RFID chips inside chips and receivers under tables, but these are extremely expensive. Other companies are looking at using multiple cameras, which again are costly and may require new CCTV equipment to be installed. Challa said as far as he is aware, SenGame is the only system already deployed on a largescale in a live casino situation, using only one camera. Others use multiple cameras and tend to be intrusive to the dealer, he says.

Although casinos are making increasing use of data to target marketing campaigns and improve efficiency, experts say there is still a lot that can be done, in particular if they are able to move from data analytics to data science. On a recent G2E panel on the subject, Jeba Kingsley, Scientific Games vice president, used the analogy of ice hockey to explain the difference. Analytics he said was like using data to see where the puck had been, while the science predicts where it will go. “You look at the data analytics and you come up with a solution or predict what data is going to do in the next six months, or whatever timeframe.” He said casinos now are fairly expert in collecting data from clients, but are falling short. “This is where data science comes in. We should be able to run many spending models to predict what the patron will do and what will make a patron make an unplanned trip, would it be F&B or ticket to an event?’ he said. “With data science we can take these parameters and we can really understand what the true worth of a patron is.” The experts said this kind of modelling used to be prohibitively expensive, but advances in technology and software solutions have made access to data science far more affordable. Challa, who was also on the panel, said there is still a lot of data available to casinos that is not being used. He pointed to the overhead security cameras mounted in all casinos. “If you take a sample of cameras they don’t catch people’s faces, but they provide very clear information in terms of a heat map of how people move around the property, if you look at the time of day, different events and how the traffic flow actually changes you have an amazing amount of information.” Using data science to analyze all of the available information should enable casinos to be able to develop much more individual marketing strategies than are currently the norm. Segment marketing strategies tend to have a 3 to 5 percent response rate at best, Kingsley said, adding that there can be considerable differences in spending power and hence value to the consumer between the individuals in any target group. Though data science will undoubtedly become an increasingly used tool, Kale stressed that at the end of the day the main problem is that people are not robots and their choices are emotional not rational. “Otherwise why would they choose to keep coming back to a casino time and time again when they lose money!!”

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017


AGE 2017

Sell out event sets records More than 7,000 attendees are expected to visit this year’s Australasian Gaming Expo, held at the beautiful and sunny Sydney Darling Harbor on August 15-17, 2017.


he exhibition, spanning 19,000 square meters, sold out this year, shattering records for most exhibition stands, largest exhibition stand space and highest number of visitor preregistrations in the event’s 28-year history. “The results are a big vote of confidence in the future of the industry” said Ross Ferrar, CEO of the Gaming Technologies Association. “As well as providing reliable, secure entertainment for millions of Australians, poker machine operations support more than 140,000 irreplaceable jobs and have provided over A$50 billion in government revenue over the last 10 years.” The show isn’t only about gaming technologies though. Thousands of visitors flock to Sydney each year to see the latest products in ATM equipment, cash handling & equipment, consultancy services, financial services, food and beverage, I.T., interior design &

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

fitout, marketing services, point of sale systems, retail, security, signage & displays and more. The expo will also host a number of complimentary seminars for its guests for the first time. Session themes include venues, research, casinos, technology, cash, investors, as well as a session with financial commentator Michael Pascoe and a panel of global gaming supplier CEOs. “This year’s Australasian Gaming Expo will be an entertainment spectacular. There’ll be seminars about key industry issues, and the exhibition itself will provide a range of fun and interesting features never seen before,” said Ferrar. Access to the expo this year is also greatly improved with a Sydney Light Rail stop at the door, two bus routes (389 and 501) stopping at nearby Harris Street and a 10 minute walk from the Central Railway Station. For motorists, there’s on-site parking for 826 cars including 20 electric car charge spaces, all of which have internal access to the expo from the car park. Visitors from overseas are also guaranteed to see the best of what Sydney has to offer, with the expo being only a gentle harbour side stroll from a host of restaurants, nightlife and accommodation. The unique wildlife and icons are not far either. World famous Taronga Zoo is a ferry ride across the harbour, past the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.


Peak performance. Put higher profitability within your reach with CPI. It’s no wonder that more than 2 million SC note acceptors have sold globally, especially with SC Advance now leading the way. By maximizing acceptance and security, while minimizing note jams and maintenance requirements, its performance is unmatched – helping operators around the world achieve new heights of profitability. When it comes to raising your profitability, SC Advance has the power to get you to the top. Please stop by our AGE booth #275 or visit to learn more.

Technology that counts. Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017





A winning edge insworth Game Technology will display a comprehensive portfolio of gaming solutions designed to provide “A Winning Edge” this year. The company will reveal the A600 EVO, a dual 23.8” HD screen cabinet with a black trim surface, pinstripe-edge and dynamic game-driven lighting, LED button panel with mechanical bash and a 21.5” digital topper. The cabinet is ready to run new premium titles such as Firepower, Lucky 8 Treasures and Big Hit Bonanza as well as a back catalogue of A600 games. Also highlighted is the innovative content for the A640 cabinet, including the new licensed product PAC-MAN WILD EDITION and Stacked Up. The company’s new PAC-MAN WILD EDITION game will make its Australasian debut at AGE 2017, which will arrive on Australian gaming floors later this year on the new A640 cabinet. “I’m extremely proud of our latest product lineup and our continued commitment to delivering industry-leading games that will be showcased at AGE. It’s exciting times for Ainsworth and I’m confident that our industry partners will not be disappointed,” said Ainsworth’s CTO Kieran Power. Ainsworth’s team will present their latest star attractions at stand 900 during the show.

Curve your thinking ristocrat invites you to “curve your thinking” around the possibilities of games, cabinets, technology, and the future of the gaming industry at this year’s AGE. With exponential growth in the hold ‘n’ spin category, operators can expect to see a strong presence from top performers Lightning Link and Dragon Link. Aristocrat will feature its latest additions to the Dragon Link family - Spring Festival and Peacock Princess at the show. A suite of never-before seen products will be on display including the eye catching Pure Cash, nostalgic Retro Neon and two exciting Mighty Coins games. The gaming machine manufacturer will also unveil its brand-new Helix XT cabinet at the show this year. The Helix XT boasts a seamless portrait gaming experience with a curved, 4K HD screen resolution and exciting game driven LCD topper capability. Player’s Choice Opal Edition will also make its debut on the stand with 7 different pack configurations available across Helix, Helix+, Arc & the new Helix XT. The company is also set to introduce a robust new range of venue management solutions. “We look forward to strengthening our relationships with our customers even further and gaining your valuable feedback on our portfolio.” Aristocrat can be found at stand 100 at AGE 2017.


Spring BME


etConstruct will display an extensive range of its market-leading products including Sportsbook, Casino Suite, Live Dealer Casino and Poker Software at the AGE this year. This year, Betconstruct brings Spring BME to AGE 2017. Spring BME includes a rich set of products, services, tools and technologies that together provide a complete management infrastructure. The dashboard gives business owners an ability to enable betting and gaming products with a single click as well as order marketing, legal, accounting, risk management and bookmaking services. At the expo the company will also showcase its renowned Sportsbook, the most complete in the industry. The BetConstruct RNG Casino Suite counts more than 3,000 exciting games. The gaming

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

catalogue is always freshened up with exciting games in high-res graphics with attractive design, both proprietary and from other providers. BetConstruct Poker Software combines all standard poker features in the configurable user-friendly interface. Live Casino provides 24/7 HD quality

streaming and real casino atmosphere with multilingual and multicurrency options. Moreover, BetConstruct provides a custom solution for those who want to set up an analogue of their land-based casino with live dealers. Betconstruct can be found at stand 436 at the show.


and to interact appropriately because of its rich cultural backgrounds. BBIN is not only an HTML5 performing pioneer in Asia, but also applies elements with local holidays and events in products. Some new features of them are also launched simultaneously with big international sporting activities. It must be reliable While most iGaming companies see the value of creating awesome service, the importance of selecting a reliable system provider is crucial. BBIN affiliate support includes White Label Solution for customized website building, and Game API for existing platform content enriching. The whole process from the very beginning to the online operation is supported by its powerful technical team.

BETTING ON SUCCESS IN ASIA The Asian iGaming market is full of opportunity for online gambling enthusiasts and affiliates. Since the developments for land-based casinos are gradually being supported by local governments, the iGaming business has gotten more prominence.

Get the right portal Asia is the largest gambling market at the moment, but that is not really an unexpected fact, since its inhabitants make up more than 60 percent of the world’s population. Many companies enter the Asian iGaming market with a few challenges like lack of understanding in the local culture and business etiquette. It is much easier, and cost efficient, to utilize the influence from existing portal companies, rather than to start over. But how to choose the right local portal brand to collaborate with? It must be experienced Asia is an area where the differences and distinctiveness are hidden, so experience is essential. With 20 years experience of supporting over 500 clients through services in Eastern Asia, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia, BBIN is proficient in Asian iGaming culture and how to promote business well. BBIN has the leading game variants and the most valuable product know-how in the whole Asia-Pacific region. It supplies 12 styles of Live Casino, 30 types of BB Luck, over 100 kinds of Casino Game and 40,000 games of Sport. Clients can see many unique elements that fit local preference and culture in its product series. It is also crucial for foreign companies to understand the behavior of the Asian market

Getting world recognized is always better. Following the nomination for three awards by the 2017 International Gaming Awards (IGA), BBIN was also nominated for the Asia Gaming Awards (AGA) and EGR B2B Awards this year. And it is honored to be the winner of Best Online Sportsbetting Solution in 2017 Asia Gaming Awards. The achievement shows that BBIN is trustworthy and recognized globally.

It must be sustainable The benefit that players derive from the use of platforms often is an increased choice of gaming products. The compatibility of products is from standing optimization. With more than 1,000 professionals all over the world, BBIN constantly researches and develops new iGaming products in house. It keeps renovating functions and services refer to the latest trends. Moreover, when thinking about sustainable development, sources integration is the other way to make platforms and service fit different market needs. BBIN has launched an extended gaming product offering with Microgaming, Playtech, Asia Gaming, Allbet, Gold Deluxe, ORIENTAL GAME, and will not only continue to collaborate with multiple software suppliers but constantly innovate in content or system development for enriching product variety. After the core values of BBIN were introduced at ICE and G2E Asia with the idea "Best Bet Of Asia" in 2017, BBIN will keep providing best services and products through non-stop innovating and endless improvement. It will always continue to affirm its position as Asia’s dominant iGaming and software supplier.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017


Exclusive tools and services


aming Laboratories International will be discussing its exclusive tools and services at AGE 2017. The company is known for its independent verification and validation certification, automated testing and static code analysis. In order to save time and money, Asia-Pacific suppliers have taken advantage of the company’s award-winning, patented tools, including Point.Click.Transfer.SM, Point.Click.Submit. SM and GLI Link, allowing suppliers to test their products remotely. Serving the global gaming market with 20 laboratories located on six continents,


A new direction


t AGE 2017, IGT will present a robust portfolio of solutions that reflect its fresh, forward-thinking commitment to games and systems. The trade show will also give IGT a platform to highlight new members of the company’s local management team, and to emphasize its significant investments in the ANZ market. Igniting the new direction in game design is IGT’s new Prize Disk game family which includes games such as Elephant King and Wolf Ridge. One of IGT’s most anticipated games will be its Hyper Hits theme with three games: Longship Legend, The Golden Bow and Lotus Princess. Hyper Hits takes flexibility to a new level with operator-configurable features such as the choice of a link or standalone progressive. IGT is also expanding its hot Multistar Champion Series family with the highly flexible Champion Series Extreme that features six high-performing IGT games. IGT’s revamped Multistar offering extends beyond the Championship Series, with Multistar Dazzling Diamonds and the new Multistar All-Stars. It’s not just games igniting a new direction for IGT; IGT’s Advantage Club system is delivering remarkable leaps in performance for its customers. IGT will also premiere its Ignite Innovation Lab where the company will demonstrate how its customers can enhance their patrons’ experiences, while driving revenues, increasing efficiencies and building world-class patron relationships.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

four of which are located in the Asia-Pacific region – three in Australia (Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne) and one in (Macau) – GLI specializes in helping small startups, large enterprises and jurisdictions reach new markets or expand into existing ones. Furthermore, Ian Hughes, CEO of GLI Australia will be participating on the AGE technology panel on Tuesday, Aug 15, discussing key technology issues and trends and how they will continue to impact the gaming industry. The company’s experts will be located on stand 570 at the show.

The Venetian Macao 14 - 16 November 2017


Innovation & Interactive Smart City

Join the most influential companies in the global gaming, technology and hospitality industry at this year’s MGS Entertainment Show. Drawing over 14,000 visitors from 60 different countries, 180 pioneer businesses made their presence in the Asian market at last year’s MGS. For further information, visit:


Skype : skype.mgs

Tel : +853 63630080/+853 28787250/+852 63296008 Website :


Led By Economic Affairs Department of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Macao S.A.R.


Wechat Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017


Spintec multi games


he worldwide success of Spintec multi games (MTGM) will be displayed at the Australian Gaming Expo for the first time this year. Bluestar poker machines series II games has kept the success of this EGM with leading technology at the forefront. FlexiLink computer Jackpot systems will also be on display at the show, including MK4 games, group Jackpots, multi-screens, and 88 Dragons. Exclusively distributed by Independent Gaming, visit the latest selection of products at stand 750.


New segment


nterblock will introduce a new segment of the gaming floor and will exhibit its industry-leading collection of Diamond and MiniStar products this year. The Roulette Diamond Station allows operators to offer the Roulette game in a fast-paced, standalone format. It has the same footprint as a traditional slot machine, fitting perfectly into physically smaller venues. The company’s new eTable, which appeared for the first time at G2E Asia, is offered with Baccarat in a five-seat configuration and allows operators to simply press a button to change the game to play as a standard video game or with a live dealer. The Multi-Game Video product, a Diamond product, will be launched at the AGE show as well. It delivers an entertaining video experience for Roulette, Baccarat and Blackjack and has the ability to connect to any Interblock Diamond automated generator. Finally, the MiniStar, Interblock’s number one roulette product, will also be on Interblock’s stand. MiniStar Roulette is available with six, eight or ten seats in a single or double zero roulette wheel, and offers settable minimum and maximum limits and settable time limits for player decisions. Interblock will be on stand 450 at the show.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017


Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017


New currency, new firmware


CM Global is coming out with firmware for its UBA bill validator series in anticipation of the new Australian banknote series. “Our UBA is ready now and is here to stay,” said JCM Asia-Pacific general manager Ian Payne. The new banknote series adds extra layers of security against counterfeiters and other types of cheats and contains new advanced security features. In addition to its UBA series, JCM will help operators communicate with their customers in dynamic fashion with JCM’s lineup of awe-inspiring video displays and content creation by JCMedia. JCM’s PixelPro Display Technology delivers LED video in a wide range of configurations that are as unique as each operator’s individual brand. PixelPro FLEX displays flex convex or concave by 30 degrees. PixelPro Cube is a modular cubic display system that allows operators to create any 3-dimensional shape. PixelPro Max panels are ideal for flat-screen situations and have an extra wide viewing angle of 160 degrees, providing exceptional picture quality. Additionally, JCM will show the iVIZION bill validator, GEN5 thermal printer, and transformative FUZION technology. Also on display is the ICB Intelligent Cash Box system, field-proven to save operators 100s of 1000s of dollars annually. For more information, go to stand 372 at the show.


Cash Hurricane


onami Australia’s latest range of core slot products and latest technologies will be on display at AGE 2017 this year. Released to the market four months ago, Cash Hurricane has swept the market by storm with its high frequency bonus and jackpot triggers. The unique Cash Hurricane bonus feature is packed with entertainment and continues to grow in popularity and magnetize players with frequent bonus prizes, extra spins and mystery multipliers.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

Konami looks forward to debuting Lucky Stakes Royale and Lucky Stakes Carnivale. These two vibrant casino-themed games are sure to attract and engage your players. Packed with two progressive jackpots and a “Lucky Stakes Super Spin” bonus, Lucky Stakes features a creative new twist on traditional free spins by using the top and bottom screen to interact with the player and award them with credit prizes and jackpots. Also exhibiting for the first time will be

Konami’s exciting new title, Cash Galaxy. Launched with two new spell-binding concepts, Lucky Spell and Dragon Flame, these games encompass a style of slot play that combines frequent bonus prizes, respins and multipliers for added excitement. Both game titles contain progressive jackpots and are denomination selectable, sending players on a fantasy adventure as they win prizes and progress through the bonus stages. Teamed with Konami’s state-of-the-art gaming systems solutions and on-stand entertainment, Konami will bring an eye opening experience to all visitors with their latest innovations - Fortune Cup, Beat Square and Frogger: Get Hoppin’, to name a few. Be sure to visit Konami at stand 390 at AGE 2017.


GO 2 EXPLORE Oct. 3–5, 2017 / Sands Expo Center, Las Vegas




Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017



Lucky Ball

The future is here


UZOHAPP will showcase its Loyalty Kiosk, and the DisplayPro digital sign, featuring a 42� FHD commercial rated screen at AGE this year. The InteractivePro Table, which offers a unique 10-point multi-touch experience suitable for a wide range of applications will also be available. Its wall mounted version, the BoothTV, will also be on display. There will be a strong array of cash handling technology at the stand. The Cash Redemption Terminal (CRT) enables players to cash out their gaming tickets without having to line up at a service counter. Visitors looking for a solution to store banknotes effectively and securely in a high volume retail environment

will be impressed with the CashComplete SDS-30 and the SDS-35. Also on display is the MFL note reader that ensures a very high acceptance rate, is TITO ready and capable of reading the new Australian banknotes. A special focus will be put on the SUZOHAPP range of VisionPro LCD slot machine screens which are available for most EGM models and in a range of sizes. SUZOHAPP is the exclusive global partner for TransAct and will also be exhibiting a wide array of printer solutions, including the latest Edge printer and the Epicentral system. Be sure to visit the team at stand 470 at the show.


altronics will be showcasing a range of products from Gaming Entertainment Systems (GES) including the Lucky Ball Roulette side bet, Lucky Tie, and the GES Jackpot Poker Room system at AGE this year. Lucky Ball has proven a great success since its inauguration in Asia in Manila and on Sydney based cruise ships. It is now on trial at Crown Melbourne. Lucky Tie is an innovative Progressive Jackpot Game for Baccarat which has just completed an extensive and successful trial and is now operating on over 20 tables at Crown Melbourne. The GES Jackpot Poker System is currently being operated throughout Australia on over 80 tables, and is now featuring an integrated Waitlist and Tournament Manager. Paltronics will be located at stand 235 at the show.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017


Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017


All-in-one gaming systems


OPROOT Technology has been developing unique and intelligent Gaming Peripheral Controllers (GPC) and related assistant controllers for over ten years. Based on TOPROOT’s own-developed controllers, TOPROOT is committed to develop all-in-one, cost effective and total solution gaming platforms for gaming applications, including slot machines, multi-player machines, COMMA 6A/6A+, VLT, arcade machines, and others. Every product comes with complete API/driver support and immediate customer service. At the Australasian Gaming Expo, three products will be on display. The GLB7081 is a scalable Intel Core-i Gaming system, using a high-performance AMD graphics card. The GLB8300, which is also on display, uses a scalable AMD R-Series Gaming system. Finally the GLB6082 features scalable computing power from 2 to 4 cores, and an Intel HD8000 series graphics card. TOPROOT can be found at stand 454 at the show.


Making a strong impression


or the second year in a row, Quixant is proud to present its winning selection of gaming computers and monitors at AGE 2017. Having supplied its gaming boards and monitors to manufacturers in the Australian market for almost 10 years, Quixant’s standard and design-for-purpose gaming monitors have made an impact in improving the quality of game content with exceptional color reproduction that brings games to life. A wide range of Quixant’s solutions will be on display at AGE, including the QXi-307, a highly cost-effective, fan-less control board for two-screen EGMs. For applications demanding high resolution graphics, the 4K UHD-ready QXi-6000, which is capable of driving three displays, provides the necessary added power. Quixant will also be demonstrating the newly released QXi-400 which offers strong performance for two-screen EGMs. Lastly the QX-50 and QMax-1, complete with discrete graphics cards, satisfy the most demanding applications. Amit Sharma, VP sales and general manager of Quixant USA, stated: “We had a successful show in 2016 and are excited to return to Sydney this year and showcase our product portfolio. We will have our full lineup of gaming computers and a versatile offering of gaming monitors at our booth.” Stop by the Quixant booth at stand 377 to experience the exciting product line.


Epic Edge


ransAct will demonstrate a comprehensive suite of innovative gaming technology and print solutions at the AGE this year. The company’s display b o oth, in conjunction with its distribution partner SUZOHAPP, will include a full lineup of Epic casino, gaming and lottery ticket printers, led by the new Epic Edge, as well as the latest versions of the Epicentral promotion and bonusing system. The next-generation Epic Edge builds on the proven performance of TransAct’s industry-leading Epic 950 to deliver a host of

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

technological advances. Epic Edge produces razor-sharp barcodes that improve bill validator acceptance and reduce attendant calls while allowing for more attractive coupon designs that enhance Epicentral implementations. Epicentral is the industry’s only enterpriselevel promotion and bonusing software suite, providing for the real-time delivery of targeted promotions to customers directly at the slot machine and electronic table game. It works with all existing slot management systems and games and allows casino slot and

marketing teams to create an unparalleled floor-wide bonusing environment that has been proven to drive increased time on device and, ultimately, increased revenue for the casino operator. TransAct will also demonstrate at AGE 2017 an array of its award-winning Epic printing systems for gaming devices, selfservice kiosks and lottery installations, including Epic 950, Epic Table Top Enclosure, Epic 883, Epic 430 and Epic 3000. See what TransAct has to offer on stand 470 at the show.







Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017





Australasian Gaming Expo (AGE) 15-17 August 2017 ICC, Darling Harbour, Australia

Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 3-5 October 2017 Sands Expo Center, Las Vegas, USA

World Gaming Expo 6-8 December 2017 Grimaldi Forum, Monaco

Gaming, Racing & Wagering Australia 8-10 August 2017 Sydney, Australia, Venue TBC.

European iGaming Expo (EiG) 30 October - 1 November 2017 Arena Berlin, Germany

SBC AWARDS 5 December 2017 London Artillery Gardens, London



Asian Gaming Networking Social 8 September 2017 Salon de Ning, the Peninsula, Manila

ASIA GAMING SUMMIT 8-10 November 2017 W, Taipei

Betting on Sports 12-15 September 2017 Olympia, London

Macau Gaming Show 14-16 November 2017 Venetian, Macau

Central & Eastern European Gaming Conference & Awards 19-20 September 2017 Budapest City, Hungary, Venue TBC

Become a member Exclusive access to AGB Intelligence BE the first to receive our daily briefs priority registration for our events REGISTER NOW AT AGBRIEF.COM

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017




Gaming, Racing & Wagering Australia (GRWA) is the region’s premier gaming conference taking place in August. The conference and exhibition will bring together Australia’s leading sports betting, gaming, wagering, lottery and racing executives to learn about the latest developments in the industry, incoming regulations and disruptions, and strategies to stay ahead of the curve. It is a must attend industry event for all operators in Australia and from around the world.

10% Discount for all AGB friends and members to attend. Quote promo code BA778AGB

To register: Call +61 3 9008 5946 | Email: | Online: Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017







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Seeking diversity Sharon Singleton

Managing Editor, AGB

In June China handed down its verdict in the case of 17 Crown Resorts employees and two former employees accused of illegally promoting gambling. As expected the court in Shanghai sentenced most, including Jason O’Connor, an Australian and vice president of VIP international operations, to nine months in jail.


The change in the climate has cast doubt on t was a clear signal to casino companies not to target Chinese citizens and appears to mark a turning whether some of the huge projects that had been point in Australia’s headlong rush to capture a envisaged will actually now proceed. Star itself is progressing with its new IR at the share of the lucrative China market. Star Entertainment Group Chairman John O’Neill, Queen’s Wharf in Brisbane, which it is building along while acknowledging the vast potential that China with Hong Kong’s Chow Tai Fook and the Far East Consortium, though plans can offer Australia, recently for an $8 billion plus resort warned not to rely too heavily by Tony Fung’s Aquis Group on the Chinese tourist. The Chinese appear to be on hold. He told a local newspaper ASF Consortium’s plans that companies need to pay market is incredibly for a casino in Queensland close attention to shifts in important but we are now in doubt after policy coming from Beijing. the government nixed its “We have got, at all costs, should not be choice of location at the to avoid complacency with putting all our eggs Southport Spit. China,” O’Neill was cited as It still has the right to bid saying. “The Chinese market in one basket. There for a license, but its plans are is incredibly important but are other important back to the drawing board. we should not be putting Still, as O’Neill points all our eggs in one basket. markets in southeast out, China is not the only There are other important Asia including fish in the sea. Although the markets in southeast Asia Thailand, Singapore sheer scale of its economy, including Thailand, Singapore mammoth population and and Indonesia.” and Indonesia. increasing spending power do Crown itself earlier this eclipse most other countries, year severed its ties with Asia, many other Asian nations pulling out of its successful venture with Melco Resorts & Entertainment to focus have a rapidly rising middle class, with an increasing amount of disposable income and a thirst for travel. on the domestic market. According to the World Bank, Thailand, which has a It’s a far cry from three years ago, when plans for multi-billion dollar resorts were being discussed for population of nearly 68 million, became an upper middle Queensland and Sydney, all including Asian investors income economy in 2011, with economic growth this and targeting the China VIP. At that point, the Australian year forecast at 3.2 percent. Casinos around Asia, such operators were also benefiting from the downturn in as Donaco’s Star Vegas property are already seeking to Macau, reporting spikes in VIP revenue as China’s high woo Thai consumers. NagaCorp has also spoken of potential future expansion rollers chose destinations considered off Beijing’s radar. Now, the landscape has changed. Crown’s VIP including more diversified entertainment options to play turnover in the fiscal first half plunged just capture a share of the growing Southeast Asian market. Australian and other regional casinos would over 45 percent, while Star Entertainment reported normalized VIP international rebate revenue up an perhaps do well to get on the ground early to woo anemic 1.7 percent. On an actual basis, revenue in these potential clients instead of being blinded by the bright lights of China. this category fell almost 33 percent.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2017

Agbriefings August 2017  

Taking China out of the marketing loop AGB brings you extensive coverage across all types of gaming, across 22 Asia jurisdictions.

Agbriefings August 2017  

Taking China out of the marketing loop AGB brings you extensive coverage across all types of gaming, across 22 Asia jurisdictions.