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Jurisdiction Updates March 2019 Edition


Politics crimp growth pg.20


King of gaming’s family feuds pg.6

In focus pg.30

Risks to reap rewards


Koreans circle Primorye pg.16


Online debate heats up pg.46



It’s more “digital” in the Philippines


arch is of special significance to Asia Gaming

the challenges involved in gaming in Asia, both land-based

Brief, as we are given the opportunity to host

and online, for there are many along the path to riches as

the industry at the ASEAN Gaming Summit

every operator and supplier will tell you. Lack of regulation;

in Manila. Between 19 to 21 March 2019 at

infrastructure or lack thereof; corruption; poor security;

the Conrad Manila, and under the banner of technological

over reliance on visitors from China can mean that an

innovations & disruption, gaming executives from across

investment that looked good on paper may end up being

both online and land-based operations converge to discuss

worth little more than the paper it was written on.

the regional outlook and the underlying trends learned

These and other concerns will be explored in depth by

over the past year.

regulators, operators, suppliers and service providers

We are honoured to welcome Jay Walker, chairman of

converging in Manila for ASEAN’ 19. We have a line up of

Walker Digital and one of the true pioneers of the digital

stellar speakers this year and are also delighted to host

age as our keynote speaker on Day One of the conference.

Pagcor President Alfredo Lim and Pagcor Chair Andrea

One of the world’s most prolific living inventors, he will

Domingo, who will be giving addresses at the show.

share some of his insights into gaming in the digital age. We

In this third edition, Asia Gaming Brief is rolling out

hope the engagement of a such a high-caliber persona will

a number of initiatives to further enhance industry

provide delegates with a different perspective of tech’s role

engagement, such as changes to the format. There has been

in their day-to-day operations.

a natural extension of the networking concept into an expo-

As we head into 2019, the outlook is turning less certain,

style showroom, where the biggest names in the industry

with the slowdown in the Chinese economy causing some

can share the most recent enhancements to their product

of the region’s high rollers to tighten their purse strings. As

lines. We make note of the event highlights throughout

economic conditions become more challenging, operators

these pages -- program and social gatherings -- along with

will need to use the tools at their disposal to maximise

a brief introduction to the sponsors that make it all happen.

revenue and streamline operations and here the adoption of

If you’re at ASEAN and would like to book a meeting with

new technologies will be a key management focus.

a fellow delegate or exhibitor to enhance your network,

And what a strong year of growth 2018 was for Asia’s

engage a prospect, or meet with the AGB Team, well...

gaming jurisdictions, with gross gambling revenue in Macau

there’s also an app for that! The Asia Gaming Brief Team will

gaining 14 percent and the Philippines powering ahead

be around throughout the event to help you make the most

some 23 percent. Smaller jurisdictions such as Vietnam and

of your experience.

Cambodia continued to attract significant interest, with

If you’re reading us from afar, we wish you were here

growth in the latter propelled by an influx of Chinese foreign

and encourage you to join us in Manila because everyone

investment, fuelling a whopping 53 percent gain in the

knows… “It’s more… in the Philippines!”

number of new licenses issued last year. Our Jurisdiction Updates bring you the relevant developments throughout the region, such as the factions vying for control at Macau’s incumbent operator SJM; how the Philippines’ license moratorium is clouding growth prospects; or the stellar results from Genting Singapore.

Rosalind Wade

Luis Pereira

On behalf of Asia Gaming Brief Rosalind Wade & Luis Pereira Publishers

Connect with us:

Where Asia has always been a land of opportunity, it also


brings associated risk. For our focus section in the ASEAN

Asia Gaming Brief

Asia Gaming Brief

edition of Asia Gaming Briefings, we take a look at some of

MARCH 2019 EDITION Series II • Issue XIX

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Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019









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Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019






























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Siblings squabble over SJM SJM Holdings was once the dominant force in gaming in Macau, holding the monopoly for almost four decades, though now its star is fading and it has become the subject of infighting for control as its former leader, Stanley Ho, ails.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019




2018 MOP302.85b


January February

-5% +4.4%

Bernstein 2019E Morgan Stanley 2019E


n its latest results, the company saw its market share slip to just 14.9 percent from 16.1 percent a year earlier, continuing the slide it has suffered since the market was opened to competition in 2002 and newer, world-class IRs began to open. Analysts are not optimistic about its nearterm prospects and don’t see any catalysts for a turnaround until it opens its HK$36 billion ($4.5 billion) Grand Lisboa Palace on Cotai, becoming the last of the six operators to come to the strip. That resort has been delayed and management now says it expects construction to be completed in the first half of this year, with operations to begin as soon as it receives government operating permits. For the fourth quarter of 2018, the company’s results missed analysts’ expectations. EBITDA came in at HK$846 million, below the market consensus for an 11.6 percent drop. “Given the ongoing peninsula vs. Cotai dynamic, with the peninsula accounting for virtually all of the softness in Macau, and with SJM still peninsula-centric through at least the end of 2019, our outlook on the company remains cautious,” Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen said in a note. “This is also reinforced by our view that Grand Lisboa Palace on Cotai will likely take longer to ramp than the Cotai peer group.” Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau was founded in 1962 by Stanley Ho, who was awarded the monopoly license that same year. The business became a license to print money, with Ho becoming known as the territory’s king of gambling. However, once the market was opened up, the entrance of Las Vegas Sand’s The Venetian and other resorts brought a level of offering that had not been seen in Macau before.

The company still has the largest number of casinos by a long stretch at 22, with Galaxy Entertainment Group being the second-largest in terms of numbers, with just six properties. Though most of SJM’s casinos are small and cater to the grind mass market, clustered on peninsula Macau or on Taipa island. As the company struggles to regain its mojo, it has found itself at the center of a battle for control between Ho’s family members. The 97-year old patriarch, who has had four wives and multiple children, was recently admitted to hospital amidst reports of failing health. His daughter from his second marriage, Pansy Ho, in January effectively carried out a shareholder coup. Shun Tak Holdings, which she heads, teamed up with the influential Fok Foundation and her sister Daisy Ho to form a voting block and propose board members to STDM. Prior to the alliance, Angela Leong, Stanley’s fourth wife, was the controlling shareholder. The Pansy Ho-led block now jointly controls 53 percent of STDM, according to the exchange filing. STDM, in turn, holds about 54 percent of SJM. Analysts say the move may lead to a long overdue shakeup of the board. Last April, the company shuffled management appointing Daisy Ho as chairperson and executive director and Timothy Fok and Angela Leong both as Co-Chairmen. Bernstein Research noted at the time the overhaul was a missed opportunity to bring in a “top notch” manager. Daisy Ho has commented that she believes the shareholder alliance will help the company with its concession renewal. Its license, along with sub-concessionaire MGM China, will be the first to expire in March next year.

+5% -2%

HKZM bridge to drive VIP/MICE traffic Gaming scholar Davis Fong Ka Chio expects the Hong Kong Zhuhai Macau Bridge to attract VIP players and MICE sector visitors as it ramps up, local media reports. The HZMB officially opened for traffic on October 24, 2018 and has been attributed to a higher visitor rate in the first few months of operation. Fong said while the first stages will boost same-day and mass market visitors, more VIP and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector visitors are expected to come across the bridge in later stages. “The first phase of the impact will basically be the lower mass market and one-day trippers. The second wave I strongly believe is the VIP. Why? Because many people told me it takes only one hour from Hong Kong Central to Macau Peninsula… More and more VIP will choose to drive from Hong Kong to Macau,” said Fong. Regarding the MICE sector, Fong said the improved connectivity between Macau and the Hong Kong International Airport is the most important element to improve MICE market visitation.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


MGM china MGM China (2282:HK) is operating two casinos, with its MGM Cotai IR opening in February 2018. The IR, with its jewellry box design, is already contributing to group results. The HK$27 billion IR features 1,400 hotel rooms and suites, meeting space, high end spa, retail offerings and food and beverage outlets as well as the first international Mansion at MGM for the ultimate luxury experience. The company, whose Macau license also expires next March, is pushing hard for an opportunity in Japan. James Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, told investors on a recent earnings call that his company is “focusing our energies” on its Osaka IR bid, and that he feels optimistic about MGM’s chances for success, in spite of the highly competitive environment. “We are focusing our energies there. We have been developing consortium partners, exciting programming, getting ready for RFP submission,” Murren explained.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

Melco resorts & entertainment Melco Resorts & Entertainment (6883.HK) has three casinos and the Mocha Clubs. The company operates the City of Dreams and Studio City in Macau and the City of Dreams Manila. Studio City ceased VIP gaming operations from January this year, though City of Dreams has added a further VIP promoter. Tak Chun Group opened a new VIP club on the second floor of the property, including six rooms and 14 gaming tables over Chinese New Year. The club will also feature “in-house tea masters” to prepare premium Chinese tea for its guests. Studio City is now ready to proceed with the second phase of its development, which will feature more non-gaming entertainment, including a giant water park. Melco CEO Lawrence Ho said the plans are ready and the company is just waiting for government approval to proceed. The water park will be one of the biggest in Asia, he said. Ho was speaking at the preview of two

new non-gaming attractions at Melco’s Macau resorts. Elekron, an electric car stunt show is making its debut at Studio City, while a Ferrari exhibition featuring GBP250 million-worth ($326 million) of luxury cars will be hosted at City of Dreams.

Wynn macau Wynn Macau (1128:HK) operates two resorts, with its $4 billion Wynn Palace opening in 2016. 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 resort has two further plots of land available for development and the company is considering adding more non-gaming attractions. Morningstar notes that the company faces short-term headwinds due to construction at its properties, but is well positioned for future growth. While there will be pressure on earnings on the near term, there is long-term growth


Amax sells stake in defunct Greek Mythology Hong Kong-listed Amax International Holdings has disposed of its 24.8 percent stake in the defunct Greek Mythology casino for nominal net proceeds of HK$30,000, which will be used as working capital. Amax said it expects to make a full impairment loss on the disposal, which is valued around HK$353.7 million (US$45 million) as per the unaudited interim financial statements as at 30 September 2018. The stake was bought by Fu Po International Limited. Greek Mythology casino, located inside the Beijing Imperial Palace Hotel, has been plagued with issues dating back to 2015, including an ongoing ownership dispute, labor law violations, and a non-renewal of the hotel license, leading to the hotel’s closure.

potential for the group – namely due to the new premium mass area in the peninsula launching at the end of this year, along with two hotel towers with over 1,200 rooms in Cotai, which begins construction in 2020, the research firm said in a note.

Sands China Sands China (1928:HK) has five properties in Macau. The $3 billion The Parisian opened in September 2016 and is now a key driver of group results. 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 also has the biggest room inventory in Macau, making it best positioned to benefit from expansion of the mass market. The group hit the headlines in February after the fatal stabbing of a 41-year-old man from mainland China in the Conrad Hotel, part of Sands China’s Sand’s Cotai IR. According to local media reports, the man was found dead in his bed. He was said

to be an active gambler. No further details were available, TDM said. Murder cases are rare in Macau and any violence is usually linked to triad-related infighting.

experiences to our guests across our properties in Macau. Additionally, we are committed to promoting our brand around the world through our expansion plans, such as Hengqin and Japan.”

Galaxy Entertainment Group SJM Holdings 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 the capacity of the resort. The group was named Casino Operator of the Year Australia/Asia at the International Gaming Awards in London in February, the fifth time that GEG has won. In addition, Galaxy Macau won the Integrated Resort of the Year award for the third year running. It also marks the eighth consecutive year that GEG has been honored by the IGA. “GEG is now a world-renowned brand in the resort industry,” Vice Chairman Francis Lui said. “We will continue to deliver quality product offerings and memorable customer

SJM Holdings (880:HK) has 22 casinos in Macau, though the former monopoly has been losing market share to new IRs on Cotai. The opening of its $4.6 billion Lisboa Palace resort is expected in the second half of this year and the company said it’s confident it can provide a differentiated offering from its competitors. “We will have new hotels and other services that can attract more tourists, also renowned restaurants. I believe it will give a good image to Macau. We can’t repeat what already exists in Cotai. We will be the last and we will try to bring new offerings,” executive director Angela Leong said. SJM’s concession to operate is one of the first to expire in March 2020. Recently, Chairman Ambrose So said he was looking forward to the continuation of the license.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019



Sales boom raises regulatory concern China’s lottery sector continues to boom, but uncertainty over how Beijing may react to the rapid growth continues to linger, with big questions over the future direction of online sales and sports betting.


n recently announced figures, China’s Ministry of Finance said total lottery sales in 2018 enjoyed a 19.9 percent year-on-year increase to CNY 511.47 billion ($75.85 billion). The growth was powered by the China Sports Lottery, which during a World Cup year saw sales grow 36.8 percent to CNY 286.9 billion ($42.55 billion). For the first time, Sports Lottery sales outstripped those of the China Welfare Lottery, which saw a modest 3.5 percent year-on-year increase to CNY 224.56 billion ($33.3 billion). “Generally speaking, the administrations of the [Sports and Welfare Lotteries] are happy to see the rapid increase of lottery revenues, which means funding for good causes increases accordingly,” Dr. Haiping Chen, a researcher at the Lottery Research Centre of China at Beijing Normal University told AGB. “However, some officials at the Ministry of Finance, which serves as the monitoring organization, are concerned about whether the growth is a good thing. Based on the past few years of data, the amount spent in some

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

western provinces on the lottery is a little bit too high versus the per capita disposable income of urban residents,” Chen added. Indeed, while Guangdong remains China’s largest single province for lottery sales, the western province of Guizhou was one of two provinces in the country – alongside Jiangxi – to report a yearly increase in sales of more than 30 percent. Still, lottery’s strong performance is very much a national phenomenon; of the 31 provinces and cities licensed to sell lottery products, all but Tibet recorded revenue increases in 2018. The Sports Lottery very much took centre stage. Sales throughout the month-long World Cup totalled a staggering CNY 46.34 billion ($6.87 billion) alone, at a margin of roughly 18 percent, meaning gross revenue topped CNY 8 billion for the tournament. Single day sales for the final between France and Croatia smashed previous records, clocking in at CNY 2.74 billion ($406 million). These impressive figures – almost four times those recorded during the 2014 World Cup –

were powered by an extended product portfolio which offers customers greater freedom to select the types of bets they want to place. According to Chen, while there is no timeline nor discussions, to legalize sports betting formally, it is likely that the scope of the Sports Lottery will continue to be expanded towards something approaching sportsbook. “The central government has developed an aggressive plan to promote the sports industry, and it has mentioned that it will explore new types of sports betting,” he said. Professor Su Guojing, lottery expert and founder of the China Lottery Industry Salon, concurs: “In order to develop and push the Chinese sports industry, the Sports Lottery will gradually expand and open, for example to incorporate Chinese football,” he told AGB. Despite the strong performance in 2018, the biggest question on the future of China’s lottery sector is whether online sales will once again be permitted. Online lottery sales were suspended in March 2015 on what was, at the time, described


China’s Regulated Lottery SaleS


From 1987 to 2018 (in RMB billion)

427 382

395 368

309 262 222

165 132 101 71



















40 38

1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 (Source: AGTech Holdings)

as a temporary measure designed to curb Su said that a return to online lottery corruption. Until then, two operators – 500. sales will be a “gradual process” that will com and China SMG – had been permitted to be accompanied by improvements to the sell tickets online as part of what the Chinese wider regulatory framework of the lotteries. government described as a pilot program. Chen said the suspension of online sales Almost four years later and central gov- was closely linked to the growth of a large ernment seems keen to reaffirm this ban, with number of unauthorized vendors, and that the Ministry of Finance in he expects to see a return September issuing updated once the government has lottery rules that include found a way to build, or In order to Welfare and Sports Lottery regulate a handful of tickets sold via the internet monopolistic channels. develop and push within its definition of an it may take some the Chinese sports timeWhile illegal lottery. for the question of industry, the Despite the ongoing online sales to be settled, ban, unauthorized online China’s lottery sector faces Sports Lottery will lottery sales remain comsome more immediate gradually expand monplace, although central concerns if it is to build government does appear on an impressive 2018 and open. to be cracking down. In performance. August, Apple removed For Su, the focus for as many as 25,000 lottery 2019 will be on social and gambling apps from its China-facing responsibility. For Chen, there are two key App Store following criticism in state media. challenges: maintaining growth during an Nonetheless, the lotteries themselves economic downturn, and restoring public appear more optimistic for a return of legal confidence in an industry that has been online sales. An official statement on the plagued by a number of corruption scandals. Chinese lottery website in September talked Regardless, if China’s central government of the need to “vigorously explore” options decides it wants to bet big on its lottery industry, surrounding the internet and lottery sales. 2019 should be another record-breaking year.

AGTECH appoints new CFO China lottery supplier AGTECH Holdings has announced the resignation of its executive director and chief financial officer Mr. Zhou Haijing, effective Jan. 30. AGTech said the resignation of Mr. Zhou was due to “position re-arrangement” and for him to devote more of his time to his new position in Alibaba Group. In his place, Ms. Hu Taoye has been appointed as executive director and CFO, she will also be taking up his position as a member of the risk management and internal control committee of the company.

Government targets WeChat abuses Beijing is cracking down on the use of the popular WeChat social media site for gambling purposes. Those found guilty will now be subject to the same punishments as those who operate illegal casinos under Article 303 of the Criminal Law. Individuals convicted under this section of the law face stiff financial penalties and up to 10 years behind bars. In particular, authorities are targeting the use of WeChat’s popular red envelope money transfer service, which they say has been used to facilitate gambling.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019





Operators report mixed fortunes South Korean operators posted mixed fortunes for 2018, even though tourism arrivals picked up after a lacklustre performance the prior year.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


oth Grand Korea Leisure, which is owned by the Korean Tourism Organization, and Kangwon Land, the only resort where locals are allowed to gamble, produced weak results. Paradise Co. was the exception with strong gains in 2018. South Korean tourism arrivals rose 15 percent from the prior year, with a pick up of the same amount in arrivals from China, despite slumping visitor numbers in January and February. Mainland visitors were the biggest source market, making up about a third of the total. Japanese arrivals were also strong, gaining 27.6 percent in 2018. Paradise Co. runs casinos in Seoul, Busan and Jeju and operates the Paradise City IR in Incheon with Japan’s Sega Sammy. The resort was the country’s first IR and the first to open in what is destined to be an entertainment hub near Seoul’s international airport. For 2018, the group recorded a near 18 percent rise in revenue, with casino sales up 15.3 percent to KRW635.9 billion ($566.4 million). After a weak start to the year, the company reported that its VIP drop from mainland China had gained from KRW324 billion in the first quarter of the year, to KRW541 billion in the final quarter, regaining the top place position. VIP drop in Q4 alone gained 19.7 percent despite the slowdown in the mainland Chinese economy, which had been expected to have an impact on VIP revenues across Asia. Over the year, the company’s VIP business had been supported by Japanese gamers who up until Q4 were the biggest contributors to the sector. The Walker Hill casino recorded the highest level of casino sales in the fourth quarter at KRW807 billion, though Paradise City was closing in at KRW718 billion, its best quarterly performance of the year. Given South Koreans are not permitted to gamble, investors planning to build resorts in Incheon are counting on drawing locals from the greater Seoul area into their non-gaming attractions. Both Mohegan Sun and Caesars Entertainment have projects underway in South Korea. Paradise reported a 33 percent gain in its hotel sales for the year and has noted that locals had been enjoying “hocances,” a South Korean version of a staycation, at the resort. Grand Korea Leisure, which operates the Seven Luck brand casinos, saw a dismal performance in the final quarter, dragging down its results for the year. Fourth-quarter net income fell by 51.8


percent year-on-year to approximately year, while non-gaming revenue at the remote KRW6.85 billion and the firm stated net resort tumbled 22.7 percent. The decline came income for full calendar-year 2018 declined despite South Korea’s hosting of the 2018 by 3.5 percent to KRW77.74 billion. Winter Olympics nearby, which had been Aggregate revenue expected to provide a for the final three boost to the resort. months of 2018 stood As the only place at KRW111.84 billion, Mainland visitors where locals are allowed down 12.4 percent from to gamble, the Kangwon were the biggest the prior-year period. Land has come under The company has increased scrutiny source market, given no commentary as from the government, making up about a to why its three casinos partly as a result of have performed so poorly. a major corruption third of the total. Meanwhile Kangscandal involving illegal won Land, which genhiring practices. The erates more gaming government last year revenue than the other two operators also ordered Kangwon Land to reduce its combined, also reported falling sales. complement of mass market gaming tables It saw an 8.3 percent decline in gaming from 180 to 160 and to cut the opening hours revenue in 2018 to KRW1.27 trillion over the at its casino by two hours a day.

Jeju tightens surveillance of overseas Koreans Jeju authorities are stepping up their surveillance of Korean overseas residents attempting to enter the island’s casinos. Locals are banned from gambling in South Korea, though Koreans who are permanently resident abroad are permitted provided they have the correct documentation. Jeju monitored procedures at the casinos from Jan. 31 to Feb. 24. The island will also educate casino employees about the new entrance procedure for Korean migrants announced in July of last year. The new legislation for casinos requires an identification card and documentation that confirms migrant status, such as a permanent residence card, or overseas migration confirmation letter. Previously, presenting documentation on migrant status was enough for Korean migrants to enter the casinos.

PARADISE GGR Casino Sales by Site (KRW 00 mn) Walkerhill

Jeju Grand

Paradise City


1,647 1,562









(Source: Paradise Co.)

Government accused of “China-style” censorship The Korean government has come under criticism after blocking hundreds of gambling and porn websites using a method described as “China-style internet censorship,” The Korea Times reported. On February 11, the Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC), the country’s internet censorship body, announced it had blocked 895 foreign-owned websites with “harmful” content. KCSC said it used Server Name Indication (SNI) in order to block the websites – sparking controversy among many people over how much control the government should have on what is being accessed on the internet.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019



S. Korean firms eye Primorye zone Three firms from South Korea are eyeing projects in the Primorye gambling zone in Russia’s far east, with Summit Ascent, the region’s only existing operator, predicting benefits from a “cluster effect” by 2021.


he zone is considered the most viable of Russia’s gambling regions due to its close proximity to the North Asian markets, in particular Northern China. Tourism numbers have been increasing at about 33 percent a year for the past five years, helped by improved connectivity and an easing of visa restrictions for Chinese visitors. There were 50 percent more direct flights operating in the first half of last year than in the same period of 2017. Ramid Hotels & Resorts, which has a portfolio of large hotel complexes, such as the Ramada Seoul Hotel, in January reaffirmed its interest in building a golf course and a casino in the zone. The company’s president, Mun Ben-Uk, said at the time: “I have led a company that has been building golf clubs and hotels for 30 years. For five months we have been working on projects that we are going to implement in Primorye, we have already looked at the land plots, we have seen the project to create a residential complex in Closed City Fokino. We want to get to work as soon as possible.”

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

Other Koreans to show interest were Dongnam Industry, which said it is planning to invest about $30 million into the construction of a golf course in the Primorye gambling zone. The company has signed the respective agreements with the Primorye Development Corporation. “The Primorye integrated resort can attract a large number of tourists in the future due to transport accessibility and the growing interest in the Far East from residents of the AsiaPacific countries. Creating elite entertainment facilities will help attract relevant tourists to the gambling zone. For our project, the main target audience is foreign players from Korea and Japan, where golf is a very popular sport and entertainment,” the company’s chairman Kim Ying-Tae was quoted as saying. In partnership with a Russian company, his firm plans to build a 9-hole golf course and a clubhouse in the first year after it gets the right to rent the land lot. The second stage will involve the construction of a 4-star hotel for 100 rooms and the addition of 9 more holes to the golf

course. It is expected to spread over 80 hectares. K International is the third group, which last year said it wants to build a $263.6-million hotel and entertainment complex. The resort would include the hotel, a casino, a shopping center and a duty-free zone and would be built on a 49-acre parcel of land. After years of slow progress, development of the zone appears now to be picking up. Summit Ascent, which operates the Tigre de Cristal resort, said in its most recent earnings report that it has seen an acceleration in activity amongst other investors in Primorye. “Assuming that our own Phase II project and the other future operators’ development plans remain on track, we may see the benefits of a ‘cluster’ effect as early as 2021,” it said. Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp, which operates the NagaWorld complex in Cambodia, is aiming to complete the first stage of Naga Vladivostok this year, while Russian group Diamond Fortune is targeting a September 2020 completion for the first part of its $900 million Imperial Resort, for which it has partnered with Japanese investors.


GROSS GAMING REVENUE Rolling chip turnover 1H2018




Mass table drop 1H2018 1H2017*

348 259

Slot handle 1H2018

Meanwhile, Russa’s southern region of Buryatia has taken steps to become the country’s next authorized gambling zone, local media reports. During a meeting of the local legislative assembly, local deputies in Buryatia proposed to create the gambling zone in Baikal Haven, which lies on the eastern shore of Lake Baikal, near the northern border of Mongolia. They intend to then submit the initiative to local authorities and, if approved, send it to federal officials for their final say. It has so far gained mostly positive reviews, with increased police presence and limits on casino chip purchases being suggested as ways to prevent possible gambling harm among local residents. Head of Baikal Haven, Alexei Togoshiev said out of the 3,622 hectares occupied by the special economic zone, only 20 hectares can be allocated for the gambling zone. Such a zone, if implemented, will help provide gambling opportunities and fill the regional coffers with gambling taxes and help overcome the so-called winter factor – an outflow of tourists during winter as a result of the harsh temperatures. According to preliminary estimates, such a zone would be able to bring in some RUB 300 million (US$4.5 million dollars) a year. Previous attempts of other regions to build a gambling zone outside the designated six areas of Russia have so far failed to materialize.




* restated

(Source: Summit Ascent)

World Cup boosts bookmaker revenue Russian bookmakers recorded approximately RUB1.2 trillion (US$18 billion) in bets in 2018, 70 percent more than the prior year, according to local media. The figure is understood to apply to not only licensed but also unlicensed bookmakers. Representatives of the leading bookmakers – Liga Stavok, Parimatch, and Bwin – agreed with the assessment that last year was record-breaking for the Russian betting market. During the World Cup alone Russians placed RUB 250 billion with licensed bookmakers. The size of an average bet was RUB1,500 rubles, and 4.7 million people made a bet on sports in Russia at least once last year.

Boomerang targets young clientele The second casino in the Krasnaya Polyana gambling zone opened its doors in January, just days after the closure of rival gaming zone AzovCity. The Boomerang casino is run by the zone’s official operator, a Russian company by the name of Domain. It is understood that the resort opened only the first floor, which includes a casino and restaurant. There are plans to open a sports bar and a night club on the second floor. Boomerang is described by its owners as a democratic casino, aimed at punters aged between 26 and 45. It has 204 slot machines, 20 tables for American roulette and card games. Director in charge of Krasnaya Polyana’s development Dmitry Afinogenov said at the opening that the intention is “to adequately compete with Las Vegas and Macau casinos, so we are actively engaged in attracting foreign visitors.”

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019



NEC looks to improve security and efficiency with facial recognition All eyes are on Japan as the next big gaming market, though the opening of an IR in a country with top-notch technological advancements means that whole industry may gain from the process.


apanese companies are already becoming involved in the gaming industry, with NEC Corp. a key example. One can tell that a company is deeply rooted in a country’s economic history when it is named Nippon Electric Company, which basically means “Japan Electric Company”. Now known to the world as NEC, the company founded in 1898 now has over 100,000 employees internationally and is listed in the Fortune 500. While the IT and electronics giant is synonymous with monitors and PC products, an added emphasis on facial recognition technology and smart-hospitality in recent years has created business opportunities in the security, hospitality, and even casino sectors. NEC’s Takashi Tsukahara, manager of the Value Creation Division explains that, “facial recognition technology is a natural evolution of authentication methods we developed in the past. Fingerprint, voice and retinal authentication are just some examples. Facial recognition is much more convenient for the user and the individuals being monitored. There is no need to go through a complicated registration of data or deal with physical touch.” Fingerprint, voice, and retinal authentication requires the registering individual to be

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

available in person. However, facial recognition technology can register an individual by photo or video feed. This point is essential for security efficiency and problem gambling prevention in the form of self-exclusion or family requested exclusion. There is also less risk of fake IDs and the technology can also pinpoint certain facial expressions or action patterns that prelude a possible crime. An increased awareness of the technology will help to prevent crimes from happening in the first place. The Tokyo-based company’s recent facial recognition security installation at the Merit Lefkosa Casino in Northern Cyprus has seen very positive results. The property has had clear improvements in security productivity, meaning less manpower required for security checks and monitoring suspicious activity. The solution also has shown signs of improved the customer experience with less registering and waiting times. Not satisfied with just providing the technology, NEC has been working to bring an all-encompassing solution to the forefront. Tsukahara states that the company’s existing market share in the Japanese hospitality industry will be a key factor in a more integrated facial

recognition data system, where airport security, hotel procedures, stadium and amusement park passes, and other aspects of tourism are all tied into one. He describes that “similar to how QR codes work, a person’s face will become their own personal QR code. One can then check in at their hotel, enter stadiums and shows, and pay for products without even needing to take out their smartphone, and with higher security.” Japan is most likely to be opening their first IR around 2025, which means that the security framework must be ready in the immediate future in order to be implemented in time for the opening, and possibly earlier when considering that the structure design directly affects security measures. On that point, Tsukahara lists this year’s Rugby World Cup and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 as two major opportunities for not only NEC, but other new technologies to gain exposure on an international stage. “We are sponsoring the event, but also taking part with our technology as a means to show a new world in which facial recognition is a norm” he explains. The company is providing the facial recognition solution for security checks in places like the athlete’s village and event venues, making sure only authorized personnel can enter any restricted area. While acknowledging that a full-fledge system tying together immigration data with private business data will need a regulation framework in both the public and private sectors, Tsukahara feels that this type of long-term solution will enhance the user experience for every party involved. Also touching upon the fact that the plan requires cooperation across various industries and even with rival companies, Tsukahara adds, “In regards to working across platforms with different manufacturers, we would like to promote technological advancements and take a leading a role in working with all parties.” From a gaming industry standpoint, security and problem gambling prevention are two issues that facial recognition directly addresses.



Rusutsu seeks first mover advantage Kamori Kanko President Hisatake Kamori has stepped up his public campaign to gain an IR license at Rusutsu village, claiming that it could become the “first mover” in the industry as it is prepared to quickly open its doors. “An IR in Rusutsu can open with a cutting-edge environmentally sustainable design in a fraction of the time required to develop IRs in Japan’s more densely populated areas. This makes Rusutsu the first mover,” he stated. Kamori explained that the existing resort already offers nearly 850 accommodations which can support approximately 3,500 guests nightly, and that village already has a total of fourteen meeting and conference facilities that, collectively, can provide a capacity of nearly 2,500 attendees.

Wakayama seminar draws in the business community The Wakayama IR Business Connect Seminar was held on in February and was successful in drawing interest from a large cross-section of the local business community, as well as domestic and international media. More than 300 participants gathered at a hotel near Wakayama Castle for seminars and panel discussions about the impact of an IR on the local economy, and other matters of concern. The event was organized by AGB and Hogo Digital, in formal partnership with the Wakayama Chamber of Commerce and Wakayama Prefectural Government, and sponsored by Solaire Resort & Casino, Groupe Lucien Barriere, Galaxy Entertainment Group, and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment. Niall Sean Murray, chairman of Murray International Group, impressed the audience with an account of the volume of supplies IRs need in order to function, many of them sourced from local businesses. An IR’s demand for 25,000 eggs on a daily basis will not be soon forgotten.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019




License moratorium clouds growth prospects Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. Chair Andrea Domingo’s efforts to further expand the country’s booming gaming industry look set to be thwarted by the continuing hardline stance of President Rodrigo Duterte, who is refusing to budge on his casino ban.



uterte, who came to power in 2016, has repeatedly expressed his dislike of gambling, both online and land-based and put a moratorium on new casino licenses in January 2018. However, that ban is threatening foreign investment into the Philippines’ tourism sector and restricting a lucrative revenue stream for the government. It also comes at a time when other Asian jurisdictions, such as Cambodia and Vietnam are expanding rapidly, creating an increasingly competitive environment for IRs in the Philippines. Domingo recently told Bloomberg News that she hoped to be able to persuade the president to impose a selective ban, rather than the blanket ban that is currently in place. “Gaming seems to be the sunrise industry now in Asia,” she said. “There are still areas in the Philippines that can still absorb and benefit from these investments, which won’t go here with the current ban.” Domingo said she would recommend that the ban would remain in force in areas not accessible to foreign travelers, thereby alleviating the issue of problem gambling amongst Filipinos. However, as of the time of going to press, Duterte has made no pronouncements on the issue and officials say that means that the moratorium remains in place. At present, there is no sign that the lack of new projects is slowing growth in the Philippines, which saw gross gaming revenue from its casinos gain almost 23 percent in 2018 to P187.5 billion (US$3.6 billion). The majority of this revenue was generated by the casinos in Entertainment City, which include City of Dreams Manila, Okada Manila, Solaire Resort and Casino, and Resorts World Manila, which chalked up gains of 29 percent to P141.4 billion over the year. Those in the former Clark naval base recorded gains of 22.4 percent to P8.6 billion, while Thunderbird dipped slightly to P1.58 billion from P1.7 billion the year before. PAGCOR’s own casinos only saw marginal growth in 2018, up 4.4 percent to P35.9 billion.

Equally strong gains were observed across the VIP, mass and EGM segments. For 2019, PAGCOR expects gross gambling revenue in the country to gain 8.5 percent to PHP217 billion ($4.1 billion) putting it in contention to take over Singapore’s title as Asia’s second-biggest gaming jurisdiction. The Philippines saw a surge in visitor numbers in 2018, recording 7.1 million tourist arrivals, up 7.7 percent from 2017, according to a statement from the Department of Tourism. The growth came despite the closure of Boracay Island between April and October 2018 for an environmental cleanup. Tourism Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat said the record number was due to the appreciation for other destinations in the country. “The challenging act of closing down Boracay- a flagship destination, the country’s top sun-and-beach destination has evidently become a blessing in disguise for secondary tourism spots to have a share of the limelight

and attention they truly deserve,” she said. “It shows that turning off the faucet when the water is unclear can bring a fresher flow in just an unexpected period of time,” she added. South Korea remained the top tourist market for the Philippines, making up for 1.6 million arrivals. China came in second at 1.3 million arrivals – up 29.6 percent from the prior year period. USA came in third with 1 million arrivals. The closure of Boracay and subsequent statements by Duterte that he won’t allow casinos on Boracay has put plans by Macau’s Galaxy Entertainment Group to build an IR on the island into doubt. The company is still expressing confidence it will ultimately get the go ahead, though publicly at least, the president is standing firm. Another project from Hong Kong-listed Landing International Development is also up in the air after the government cancelled the land lease contract for the Manila resort.


(units in million PhP)

Clark 34,378 35,895

Thunder Bird









Entertainment City 2017




Patagonia enters online bingo market Patagonia Entertainment has entered the Philippines online gaming market, after a number of its popular Video Bingos were certified for the market. The company said it has expanded into the market through two significant operator partnerships. Patagonia Entertainment’s Global Business Development Manager Victor Arias said: “The Philippines is an exciting opportunity for Patagonia as it represents a huge growth area for the business. Video Bingos are very popular in the region and the games will be a major asset for any iGaming companies expanding into this territory.”

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Bloomberry Resorts Bloomberry Resorts’ Solaire was the first IR to open in Entertainment City and is now planning a second IR to the north of Manila to cater for the local mass market in Quezon City. However, the company has been asked to address concerns raised by local church and parent groups with regards to its Quezon City casino plans. Newspaper advertisements from “concerned citizens of Quezon City” have pointed out that the planned resort is in close proximity to schools such as the Philippine Science High School and the Quezon City Science High School. This prompted a response from the Philippines gaming regulator chief, Andrea Domingo, who has now asked the casino operator to address the concerns before they can be given the notice to proceed (NTP). Bloomberry maintains that its QC casino does not violate any local or national laws and regulations. It is now completing the requirements for the casino after securing financing for the project earlier this month via a P40 billion (US$767 million) loan from local lenders. Solaire is a 16-hectare integrated resort. The Bay Tower of Solaire consists of a casino with an aggregate gaming floor area of approximately 18,500 square meters (including 6,000 square meters of exclusive VIP gaming areas), with about 1,400 slot machines, 295 gaming tables and 88 electronic table games. The Sky tower consists of a 312 all-suite hotel, additional ten VIP gaming salons with 66 gaming tables and 223 slot machines.

remains at 1,226. The property is currently in the third phase of its expansion. The new Grand Wing will have three international luxury hotels – Hilton Manila, Sheraton Manila Hotel, and Hotel Okura Manila, adding approximately 940 rooms. It will also include new gaming and retail spaces, as well as six basement parking decks. Further down the road, it will open the fourth and final IR planned for Entertainment City, which is scheduled for 2020.

Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Okada Manila, owned by Japan’s Universal Entertainment, is the largest resort in Entertainment City and the last to enter the market, with a soft opening in 2016. The property spans 44 hectares and at the completion of Phase One, Okada will have 994 hotel rooms and operate 500 tables and about 3,000 slots. Its centrepiece is the world’s largest coloured fountain, as well as a giant inner city beach

complex, known as “Cove Manila.” Parent company Universal Entertainment recently announced it will be working with Chinese a state-owned travel agency to develop package tours to Okada Manila. It has executed a “Letter of Intent” with CTS Shanghai Zhongqiao International Travel Service Co. Ltd, one of the three largest stateoperated travel agencies in China.

City of Dreams The $1.3 billion City of Dreams Manila is owned by Belle Corp and Melco Crown 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 meters family entertainment center in collaboration with Dreamworks Animation, a live performance stage, two international nightclubs and a multi-level car park.

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)

Tax authorities target POGO licensees The Philippines Tax agency has set its sights on Philippines-based offshore gaming operators, or POGOs, requiring the companies to register with the Bureau of Internal Revenue before their licenses can be renewed. It is understood that more than 50 companies, many of which target Chinese gamblers, will be affected by the new rules. According to a statement from the Department of Finance, the tax bureau will also be monitoring the number of Chinese nationals working in the gaming industry. Between 2015 to 2017, there were 51,000 permits issued to Chinese nationals allowing them to work in the country, according to a Labor Ministry official in November. However, more than 3 million Chinese have entered the Philippines since 2016, with many applying for work permits.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


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Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019



Genting settles with Wynn, though legal issues drag Genting Malaysia looks set to go it alone with its outdoor theme park, while its legal dispute with former partners Fox Entertainment and The Walt Disney Co. drags on.


he company opened the park as part of a Chinese New Year celebration, allowing visitors to stroll around the zone and buy food and drinks from food trucks. However, no rides were operating. The Fox-themed entertainment park was scheduled to be the centerpiece of the revamped Resorts World Genting IR, the only legal casino operation in Malaysia. However, Fox pulled out in November last year, amidst speculation that new owner, Disney, had not wanted its brand associated with gambling. Genting launched a lawsuit in the U.S. seeking $1 billion in damages from Fox, prompting a response in January under which the U.S. company claimed breach of contract and claimed $46.4 million from Genting. However, Fox didn’t seek to stop the opening of the park. “What piqued our interest is that neither Fox nor Disney sought an injunction to preclude GENM from opening the OTP as we had earlier feared,” Maybank analyst

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

Samuel Yin Shao Yang said in a note. “This implies that GENM may be able to proceed to either operate the OTP by itself or partner with other studios.” Maybank said it expects the park to open in the first quarter of next year and will help drive visitation by two million arrivals, or 9 percent a year. Genting Malaysia, combined with its parent company and sister, Genting Singapore, forms one of the world’s largest gaming groups with operations spanning from the Philippines to New York, the Bahamas, the U.K. and a planned IR in Las Vegas. However, the group has been mired in legal action over the past year. Aside from the issues with its Malaysian theme park, Genting came under fire late last year from Wynn Resorts, which accused it of seeking to mislead clients by copying the design of Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, which are just across the street from the proposed

$4 billion Resorts World Las Vegas. Genting has since directed its design team to make several changes and as a result Wynn has dropped its lawsuit. The revised rendering is simpler with no giant Chinese lantern hanging from the side of hotel towers. It also colours the hotel towers in scarlet red and not the maroon red that Wynn had taken issue with. “Genting’s Resorts World Las Vegas project will be the launching point for the next generation of integrated resorts, and the aesthetics of the project will play an important role in its future success,” said Michael Levoff, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs & Development, Genting. “While the company believes the design to have had differences with Wynn and Encore’s once fully realized, after further consideration and conversations with the Wynn team, we have directed our design team to make several changes that will clearly differentiate the two properties. This mutually beneficial settlement will allow


GENTING Share price performaNCE 2019 5.4 5.2 5.0 4.8 4.6 4.4 4.2 4.0 3.8 3.6 3.4 3.2 3.0 2.8 2.6











(Source: Bursa Malaysia)

Genting to continue to develop Resorts World Las Vegas with minimal impact to cost and the overall project timeline.” Michael Weaver, Wynn’s chief communications officer said. “Their future success will benefit all of Las Vegas.” At home, the group is also involved in legal action, this time asking for a judicial review of the Ministry of Finance’s decision to change the treatment of tax incentives that were granted as part of the Genting Integrated Tourism Plan. Genting said its application for the tax incentives were granted in Dec. 2014. The group was entitled to claim income tax exemption equivalent to 100 percent of qualifying capex incurred for 10 years. In Dec 2017, the MOF amended its decision to one which does not remove the tax incentives but effectively prolongs the utilisation period of the tax incentives significantly, Maybank said. The change led to an unpleasant surprise in the group’s Q3 results, with its core tax rate effectively jumping to 25 percent from 15 percent, helping contribute to an 11 percent decline in net profit. The Kuala Lumpur High Court granted leave for review in January, with the proceedings expected to start at end May. Many analysts have written down their earnings forecasts for Genting, given the changes in tax treatment to its capital investments, as well as surprise hikes in gaming taxes in the most recent budget.

Pensioners caught in drug-fuelled gambling bust Police in a district of Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur busted an illegal gambling ring, made up mostly of senior citizens, who were high and playing mahjong in a shop, local media reports. A total of 20 people including nine women were arrested when police raided the shop-lot that was turned into a gambling spot on January 26. Those arrested were aged between 50 and 79. “Upon checking one of the rooms inside the shop-lot, the raiding police team found various types of drugs including heroin, ecstasy, and Erimin 5 pills. “The seized drugs alone were worth RM31,100. Police also seized RM4,000 in cash and mahjong chips,” a police statement said.

Police under fire for overseas freebie A Malaysian police delegation has come under fire for accepting a “lavish overseas trip” to Turkey, which was allegedly paid for by a private gaming firm. It was reported that the delegation went to Turkey to learn how to better combat illegal online gambling. The trip was alleged by whistleblower site Sarawak Report to have cost over RM300,000 (US$73,500), with an 18-strong delegation, raising concerns about the motive of the sponsorship. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said that while the trip was approved by the Totalisator Board, an agency under the Finance Ministry, the money did not come from the government. “The source of funding is not the Finance Ministry. “The source of funding is Da Ma Cai, a number forecasting company,” Lim told local reporters.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019



Genting outshines Marina Bay Sands in Q4 It was a tale of two resorts in Singapore over the last reporting quarter, with Genting Singapore, the former market laggard, outperforming its rival Marina Bay Sands on almost all metrics.


arina Bay Sands, owned by Las “Higher VIP volumes (+10 percent y/y) are Vegas Sands, said its adjusted likely being driven by more credit extension. property EBITDA fell almost 21 We are concerned about the increase in bad percent in the quarter, while its debt provision, and don’t buy management’s overall revenue fell 17 percent. Gaming revenue downplay - saying it’s only a “blip” from quarter eked out a 4.4 percent gain. to quarter and the company is maintaining same The company said performance at the iconic credit extension level,” they said. resort had been affected by weak VIP revenue. Resorts World Sentosa hosts the Universal Rolling chip volume was down almost 14 percent Studios theme park, as well as a large aquarium. on a win rate of 2.79 percent compared with The company said it had seen average daily 3.95 percent in the same period the prior year. visitation of more than 21,000 to its attractions Its non-rolling chip drop fell 6.2 percent. and an increase in visitor spending. Genting Singapore on the other hand Commenting on the prospects for 2019, reported that its focus Genting said it was on marketing to the “cautious about the premium mass segment ambiguous economic had paid off. The operator environment and ongoing Singapore’s of Resorts World Sentosa geopolitical friction that two IRs, although has now rebounded after is clouding the growth getting bad debts that of the Asian gaming and highly profitable, crippled profits two tourism market.” have struggled years ago under control. Singapore’s two It posted a 12 percent IRs, although highly to boost topline gain in Q4 net profit, profitable, have struggled growth in a highly saying that over the year it to boost topline growth in regulated market. had seen an encouraging a highly regulated market, performance in both with few opportunities gaming and non-gaming for further expansion. business. Maybank Research For Q4, net profit came in at S$150 million says ideally MBS would like to invest more in ($111 million). Revenue gained 15 percent to Singapore, with both its mall and hotel operations $664.7 million. Revenue from gaming during still reporting healthy growth of just over 8 percent. the quarter jumped 20 percent to $444 million. “MBS would like more hotel rooms to house For the full year Genting, which operates the more premium mass market gamblers and more Resorts World Sentosa property in Singapore, slots and electronic table games for grind mass said profit gained 28 percent after stripping out market gamblers,” it said in a note, adding that a one-off gain from the prior year from the sale its Q4 results were not all bad. of its stake in an IR in South Korea. Singapore saw strong growth in visitation in That said, analysts at Bernstein Research 2018, suggesting there would be healthy demand were unimpressed, saying the result was below for more hotel accommodation. Marina Bay Sand’s its expectations. hotel occupancy rates during the quarter were at

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

95.5 percent, with an average daily rate of $423. Visitor arrivals to Singapore hit a record 18.5 million in 2018, clocking a 6.2 percent increase from the previous year, according to data released by the Singapore Tourism Board. This was driven by double-digit growth in visitor arrivals from India, USA, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom. The visitor increase translated into only a modest increase in tourism spending, with receipts up one percent year-on-year to S$27.1 billion, according to preliminary estimates. There was an increase in the sightseeing, entertainment, and gaming spending, up 6 percent year-on-year, however, there was a drop in spending on shopping (down 14 percent), accommodation (down 5 percent) and F&B (down 4 percent) in the year. India, Indonesia and, China registered the highest growth when it came to spending. For 2019, STB forecasts tourism receipts to be in the range of S$27.3 to S$27.9 billion (+1 to +3 percent) and international visitor arrivals to be in the range of 18.7 to 19.2 million (+1 to +4 percent).


visitor spending breakdown Sightseeing, Entertainment & Gaming S$4,472m +6%

Shopping S$4,055m -14% Food & Beverage S$1,946m -4%

Other TR Components S$5,758m +22%

Accommodation S$4,347m

CRA renews Resorts World Sentosa’s license The Casino Regulatory Authority of Singapore has renewed the casino license of Resorts World Sentosa for a period of three years. The regulator in its announcement said the renewal was given the go-ahead after assessing that Resorts World Sentosa had fulfilled the requirements set out in the law covering casinos. Malaysian brokerage RHB Research announced it is maintaining its “buy” call on Genting Singapore, due to its potential Japan expansion and its upcoming reinvestment into RWS.

-5% (Source: Singapore Tourism Board)

Singapore couple fined $826,000 for illegal gambling A Singapore couple were ordered to pay S$$1.3 million (US$826,000) in restitution for leading a non-licensed betting service that involved the 4-D lottery, local media reports. The authorities found that 60-year-old Heng Ee Howe had been involved in the illegal activity for as long as 15 years along with his wife, 55-year-old Tin Suh Chyong. Heng had been collecting illegal 4-D bets on behalf of other individuals. He would then consolidate the bets and send them to gambling runners in Malaysia. He received commissions based on a percentage of the total amount of bets that were collected, as well the winnings of the gamblers.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019





Naga2 helps group’s stock to shine NagaCorp was the best-performing gaming stock in 2018 and there is no sign of its star fading yet, as its well-received Naga2 property continues to pull in the crowds and the group plans for further expansion.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


he operator of Cambodia’s NagaWorld, posted a 53 percent increase in net profit for 2018 as all business segments reported strong growth, led by VIP gaming. Gross gaming revenue was up by 55 percent to $1.4 billion, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization surged 60 percent to $511.8 million. Net profit was $390.6 million. VIP rollings were particularly strong, up 69 percent to $35.7 billion, after the opening of Naga2 in late 2017. The new property significantly increased the quality and range of VIP, mass gaming and non-gaming offerings, providing the group with a product comparable in quality to integrated resorts in more established gaming destinations. Macau’s major junkets have taken note. Suncity opened in Naga2 in March 2018 and will be moving to a “larger and more desirable” location in the first quarter of this year. The company says it expects all four of Macau’s biggest junkets to be operating out of the property this year. “Despite the significant increase in VIP business volume, VIP customer composition remains well diversified between South East Asia and North Asia,” it said. Mass Market table buy-ins increased by 57 percent to $1.2 billion and mass market electronic gaming machines bills-in increased by 22 percent to $2.2 billion. Naga said the volume growth was mainly due to increased visitation from China, which saw a gain of 69 percent in the first


eleven months of last year and holds strong potential for further expansion. Union Gaming said it was increasing its price target for the company on the back of the results “NagaCorp, which has consistently been one of our top picks, continues to beat expectations as demand remains very robust across all gaming segments and across both properties,” analyst Grant Govertsen wrote in a note. “Naga, which was the best performing gaming stock globally in 2018, remains a top pick of ours, and we expect Naga2 to continue to ramp closer to its full potential over the course of 2019.” Union Gaming raised its PT to HK$12 (from $10) and reiterated a Buy rating. NagaCorp said its plans for an IR in Vladivostok are progressing and it expects the project to be broadly on track for completion this year. It also reiterated it is in the advanced planning stages for Naga3 in Cambodia to take advantage of growth opportunities there. Cambodia’s casino industry continued to enjoy stellar growth in 2018, with a 53 percent increase in licenses granted during 2018. There are now 150 licenses, up from 98 the prior year. The majority of the activity was centered on the coastal town of Sihanoukville, which now has 88 licenses granted, fuelled by inbound Chinese investment. Operators in Cambodia are waiting for the government to publish long-awaited legislation, which is expected to improve the regulatory framework and further drive foreign investment.



VIP rollings $35.7b


Mass market $1.2b


EGMs bills-in $2.2b


Bomb found in Poipet casino A bomb was reportedly found at a casino in Poipet in February, leading to a swift response from local police and the Cambodian bomb squad. According to a report from Cambodia News English, a man found the suspect device in a styrofoam box in the washroom at the Golden Crown Casino in Poipet City and alerted the casino’s security. Arriving at the scene was local police and the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), an organization dedicated to removing mines across the nation. An official from the CMAC who was at the scene has confirmed that the bomb was real.

Star Vegas property EBITDA improves Australia-listed Donaco International said property EBITDA at its Star Vegas resort improved in Q4, helped by a higher win rate. Star Vegas Resort and Club recorded VIP turnover of THB 17.1 billion (US$543.7 million), and net revenue of THB 421.3 million, compared with VIP turnover of THB 26 billion, and net revenue of THB 470.3 million in the prior quarter. The win rate was 3.27 percent up from 2.47 percent, with EBITDA rising to THB181 billion, from THB169.4 million reported in the four months to October 2018. Donaco said it has become aware of increasing competition in the Poipet area, with a new casino rumored to be opening soon.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Risky business Gambling is all about taking risks and nowhere more so than in some of Asia’s rapidly emerging markets.


lack of regulation; lack of infrastructure; corruption; poor security and over reliance on visitors from China can mean that an investment that looked good on paper ends up being worth little more than the paper it was written on. For our focus section in the ASEAN edition of Asia Gaming Briefings, we take a look at some of the risks involved in gaming in Asia, both land-based and online. For our first article, we examine some of the likely risks to be faced by operators in Southeast Asian markets in 2019. After a year of nasty regulatory surprises in Malaysia in 2018, this year is expected to be relatively calm, as is also the case for Singapore. Though topline growth in these markets may be hard to find as the slowdown in China’s economy causes its high rollers to tighten their purse strings. In the Philippines, however, it’s a different story. The country’s mercurial president is likely to keep both land-based and online operators on their toes. Much of the future expansion in what has been one of the region’s best-performing markets will depend heavily on whether he has a change of heart towards the gaming industry.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

Our second article takes a similar approach, comparing and contrasting the risks and rewards of investment in Indochina. Both Vietnam and Cambodia are seen as having enormous potential. However, Vietnam’s regulated and measured approach to the industry is in stark contrast to the explosive growth in Cambodia, where long-delayed regulation has yet to see the light of day and hot money from China is driving expansion. In the world of eSports, operators are still struggling to work out how to tap the potential. We look at some of the more common pitfalls facing those trying to enter the sector and find a basic lack of understanding has lead to some reputation-shattering errors, such as taking bets on tournaments that don’t exist. Lastly, in our focus section we look at the risks for online gaming. As other jurisdictions around the world put in place regulation, most notably the U.S., Asia will face more competition for investment. That said, its potential is still too big to ignore and companies will need to learn how to mitigate the risks of operating in unregulated markets with often hostile governments.


Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


China influence to define outlook in SE Asia Regulatory risk, political uncertainty and exposure to a Chinese economic downturn will factor into the performance of casino sectors in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines - albeit to varying degrees.


rom a regulatory perspective, changes in Malaysia and Singapore are unlikely. Malaysia’s gaming sector endured something of an annus horribilis in 2018, headlined by a casino duty rates hike of 10 percentage points to 35 percent of gross gaming revenues. The new rate came into effect on January 1. The change will cut Genting Malaysia’s earnings by 30 percent, according to estimates from Samuel Yin Shao Yang, associate director at Maybank Investment Bank Berhad. The silver lining is that it should be some time until any further changes. “I don’t think there will be much more regulatory risk in Malaysia this year after a horrible year last year,” said Yin. In Singapore, we are also unlikely to see changes to duty rates, which have been fixed at five percent for VIP and 15 percent for mass market until 2022. However, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa are exposed to a degree of regulatory risk around the Singapore government’s Greater Southern Waterfront redevelopment project. It is understood both integrated resorts have been asked to contribute to the project, but there remains uncertainty around whether additional hotel rooms, slot machines and electronic table games will be offered as a sweetener.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

In contrast to the regulatory stability of Malaysia and Singapore stands the Philippines. “The Philippines, as usual, carries the highest political risk of any jurisdiction in Asia,” Ben Lee, managing partner at IGamiX Management & Consulting, told AGB. “Apart from an apparent disconnect between PAGCOR and their country’s president, the ever moving goalposts that is the Philippines makes it difficult for any sizeable foreign investor to seriously consider the country,” Lee added. According to Steve Vickers, CEO of specialist political and corporate risk consultancy Steve Vickers and Associations (SVA), weak regulation and arbitrary enforcement will create significant uncertainty for the market. “The Philippines’ regulatory framework is far weaker than that in other countries around the region, given the widespread nature of graft and the frailty of the rule of law. Indeed, the application of regulations can in some cases appear to be arbitrary, or at least prove ineffective,” Vickers told AGB. Growth potential Despite this uncertainty, the Philippines will likely enjoy the strongest growth of the three markets in the near time. “The Philippines gaming market will continue to


surge in the short to medium term, driven by proxy and online activities,” said Lee. But Malaysia and Singapore will have a tougher time of things. “Malaysia and Singapore will remain flat, the former mainly a domestic play and the latter without any junket to help drive it,” Lee added. Yin said Resorts World Genting may struggle this year, as the higher casino duties start to bite. “Even if its gaming volumes do grow - we forecast 10 percent growth - the significantly higher casino duty rates will inevitably erode its earnings. We expect Genting Malaysia’s 2019 earnings to fall 25 percent almost entirely due to the higher casino duty rates,” Yin said. For Singapore, there is concern that the weak outlook in Macau for VIP GGR will spread to the jurisdiction, although Yin said he can foresee high VIP volume generation leading to growth. The China factor But aside from domestic regulatory and growth factors, it is the influence of China that will likely define the outlook for the region. “One of the key concerns will be Chinese government attitudes to capital movement, given the predominance of Chinese VIP gamers in casino revenues,” said Vickers. Vickers noted the weakness of the Chinese economy, rising debt and pressure from the US as reasons why capital control policy will likely gain more weight in strategic considerations as the year progresses. “Sudden crackdowns on movement of funds out of China would inevitably affect casinos across Asia,” he added. Lee said trade tensions between the US and China, which have seen manufacturing relocating to the likes of Vietnam and Cambodia, has in turn seen VIP gaming divert from Macau to these jurisdictions; their continued growth could put pressure on Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines as competition for China’s VIPs heats up. Ultimately, all three jurisdictions will not be able to disentangle the outlooks for their respective casino sectors from China. “The growth of Asia’s casino businesses is a symbol, to some extent, of the success of China’s economic development. However, it also represents a vulnerability, in terms of outflows of capital into other jurisdictions,” said Vickers. “Beijing may become more cognizant of these concerns in the months ahead, particularly if states such as Malaysia continue to roll back Chinese influence. As such, those businesses that are perceived as being too close to the US could face challenges.”

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Indochina opportunities clouded by political, economic risks Despite regulatory uncertainty and a relatively high risk profile, land-based operators will be closely watching developments across the Indochina region over the coming months.


ambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar offer varying degrees of opportunity for operators keen to invest in the region. “Southeast Asia is a hot market at the moment with lots of new development, especially in Vietnam and Cambodia,” Stephen J. Karoul, president and CEO of boutique casino consulting company EuroAsia Consulting, LLC, told AGB. But these markets are not without significant political and operational risk. Perhaps the most appealing of the four is Vietnam. “I think Vietnam has the greatest likelihood of moving towards a contemporary model of casino regulation, and it is certainly likely to elevate the standard of compliance above that of the other emerging jurisdictions around

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

it,” David Green, former gaming practice director with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Macau and founder of gaming consultancy Newpage Consulting, told AGB. The early signs in 2019 are promising. In January, the Corona Resort and Casino opened its doors for the first time, and significantly it permitted eligible local citizens to gamble as part of a government-run three-year test program. It is early days for both the Corona and the pilot scheme, which enforces strict terms on those locals it allows to gamble, including proving a minimum monthly income of more than $400. But it is an encouraging first step for a jurisdiction which had previously taken an extremely tough stance on gaming, and there may be more to come. “Vietnam


may further loosen restrictions on locals participating in casino gaming,” noted Green. The industry will also be closely watching progress in Hoiana, where a multi-billion dollar resort complex, partly backed by Suncity Group Holdings, is expected to open its first phase by the end of the year. The broader political and economic landscape is also favourable. GDP growth in 2018 was in excess of seven percent, and the government is among the most stable in the region. The only significant question mark is around exposure to China, where a US trade war and territorial disputes in the South China Sea could cause issues. “Vietnam has the greatest upside potential, as it has some impressive new resort developments coming on stream, and the Hoiana project is hugely ambitious. If more local gaming is permitted, it will be a very attractive market for gaming operators,” said Green. Beyond Vietnam Elsewhere in the region, Cambodia is expected to finally adopt new gaming legislation

this year, though as Green notes, it is unlikely to herald a real change in regulatory approach. “Enforcement will likely be selective, and it is hard to see any licence in Cambodia, apart from that held by Naga, having material intrinsic value. Without value to protect, there is no real incentive to comply with applicable regulations,” he said. There is certainly growth to be had in Cambodia’s casino market in 2019, but it remains incredibly fragmented. The market added some 52 licences in 2018 alone, and the country’s Ministry of Economy and Finance said there were 150 active licensees at the end of the year. One upside could be the inflow of investment from China, with Cambodia arguably China’s primary ASEAN ally when it comes to claims over the South China Sea. Over the border in Laos, it looks likely that casino licences will continue to be restricted to three. Despite Macau Legend’s pledged $300 million investment in Laos, progress will be slow. “I don’t expect to see much uplift in the Lao PDR market, notwithstanding Macau Legend’s investment in it,” said Green. “It lacks critical mass and infrastructure, and is open to

predation by Cambodian border casinos, which I believe will likely survive any new legislation for gaming regulation in Cambodia.” Myanmar is even more of an unknown quantity. In September, the country’s lower house passed a bill that would permit the establishment of foreigner-only casinos. However, the Rohingya crisis, high inflation and a lack of political reform do not provide a particularly appealing backdrop, even if GDP growth should top six percent in 2019. Green notes that the market is not likely to “generate significant excitement among prospective operators, especially those accustomed to investing big in casino developments.” Risk profile The risk profile of all four of these markets remains tightly tied to the fortunes of China, and to a lesser extent, Thailand. “Chinese and Thai gamblers are really a focus of all four jurisdictions,” said Green. “China is not currently performing, as an economy, as well as it has since 2009, and there may be renewed pressure on expatriation of capital, as there was from mid-2014. “I don’t see any indication that Thailand is about to move to legalise casinos, which should ensure that the border casinos in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia retain traffic from Thai gamblers.” But it will still be tough for multiple emerging jurisdictions to enjoy strong growth when all are competing for the same player base. “One concern for these countries will be market saturation and eventually dilution of the viable players,” said Karoul. “When that happens, ‘cut throat’ competition will kick in and that is when we will see numerous deals that just do not make economic sense for the casino operators, and unfortunately many of them will eventually go out of business.” Similarly, operators will need to closely look at how they go about acquiring players, particularly in newly-emerging markets that will suffer greater volatility than would be expected in Macau. “One cannot just continue to buy business via bad offers, high commissions or discounts that are not sustainable, so the strong will survive short-term but the weak will go under and out of business. Being under-capitalized will definitely hurt some operators in these volatile markets,” said Karoul. Ultimately, while there are certainly highgrowth opportunities in the region in 2019, only those with an appetite for risk need apply.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Integrity and ignorance key risks for esports The stellar projections for esports revenue have whet the appetite of online wagering operators, though the absence of regulation, questions over sports integrity and lack of expertise mean widespread adoption in the gambling industry may be far away.


y 2020, the number of esports viewers and enthusiasts are expected to reach a whopping 286 million, drawing in more than $12 billion in wagering turnover. Attracted by the potential and the younger demographic many operators, both land-based and online, have been dipping a toe in the market. Seattle-based Unikrn, a ground-up esports betting provider established in 2014, currently offers their esports betting services to over 20 countries across Europe and Asia and is estimated to generate revenue of $10 million annually. Pinnacle Sports, which runs a successful esports book, is said to have taken more than 8 million esports bets since 2010. Asia’s integrated resort & casino operators have also been making moves in this space, with many seeing esports tournaments as a way to attract a market segment outside of the traditional gambler. In July last year, Melco Resorts and Entertainment opened an esports stadium at its Studio City IR in Macau, emerging as a pioneer for this kind of customer development strategy in Asia.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

Later in the year, Melco CFO Geoff Davis told the Nikkei Asian Review that an esports stadium would “very likely” be a “key component” of its proposed Japan IR, while in January, Sands China hosted a PUBG invitational tournament at the Venetian Cotai Arena, attracting 16 qualified teams and a prize pool of US$500,000. That being said, the move into esports poses multiple challenges. “The reality is we are years away from really getting to grips with the best way to offer esports wagering entertainment,” said Sportradar’s managing director for Asia, Michael Maerz. According to him, an industry-wide lack of understanding, trust, and acceptance of esports have held a lot of operators back. “Some just don’t take it seriously, others see it as just a fad because they have never been gamers or don’t understand anything about the particular community.” A few years ago, wagering operators that had adopted esports early had to scale back their esports product, or remove it completely, after it failed to reach expectations.


“Such bookmakers expected huge turnover from esports without preparing any different marketing, nor investing in the right expertise,” he explained. One of the most common mistakes operators make is treating esports like any other niche sport, simply adding it as another offering to their existing product line up. “A bookmaker’s existing customers are unlikely to be esports fans, largely, which means you have to go and find them,” said Maerz. “The demographic that bets on esports is very prudent and will switch easily, so this needs to be kept in mind,” he added. “When entering the esports market, as a business, you need to understand that esports doesn’t have a static set of games, tournaments, or even rules – it’s a constantly changing environment,” said Stephen Hanna, chairman of the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC). “Bookmakers need to not only know the preliminary rules of an esports title but they also need to be kept abreast to any changes in the game that could affect its rules or winning parameters. Esports is a spectrum, and operators need to truly understand the intricacies of this spectrum in order to be successful,” he added. “We’ve seen operators offering odds on matches that had already concluded, or setting scoring parameters based on a whole other esports title completely,” said

Hanna, adding that it’s more common than one might think. Then comes the issue of integrity in esports – which carries a higher risk of match-fixing compared to traditional sports. Sports integrity body ESSA said this week it was seeing an increasing number of alerts about suspicious bets on esports. “We’ve found that countries newer to the esports scene are particularly susceptible to match-fixing or cheating, as dissuading factors such as high player salaries or stringent integrity mechanisms are generally not present. However, we’ve also found cases of match-fixing occurring in larger, more well-known tournaments as well,” said Hanna. “There are new cases of integrity breaches every year. It would be unfortunate not to learn from the mistakes of traditional sport and ignore the issue until it becomes a more widespread problem. Things are happening in the esports integrity space, but it has been slow going,” added Maerz. To this effect, Hanna stressed that any operator in the space must have a wellinformed integrity network and to invest in the right expertise. “We’ve seen operators starting to factor in esports learning as part of their R&D budgets in order to keep up with the latest developments in the space. This budget is generally used to hire consultants or engage with professional integrity bodies like ESIC.”

In many cases, establishing a line of communication with the tournament operators could be particularly important. “Operators could be unknowingly offering odds on a game or tournament that is seen to attract an underage audience. This could cause irreversible damage to reputation, and in some cases, even their license. We have also observed a few occasions where an operator was offering odds on a tournament that does not even exist.” “Operators that do not have the capacity to make these inquiries should reach out to informed integrity bodies in order to assure their product offerings are not detrimental to their brand and audience.” With all these risks, it’s no wonder regulators are stepping very cautiously. “Some of the biggest problems are not the operators but some of the regulators whose rules and processes are based on legislation that can hinder esports betting,” said Maerz. “There are some regulation systems, for example, that require individual tournaments to be approved, others ban games with any kind of violence, while there are some places, for example, South Australia, that ban esports all together.” “It has, and will continue to be a slow but necessary process. ESIC will continue to work with regulators in the space to further develop integrity measures within the industry,” concludes Hanna.

Photo by Redbull

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Asia finds its place in iGaming’s new world order The global igaming industry has enjoyed significant regulatory breakthroughs around the world over the past year, but the emergence of a genuinely international sector is causing the world’s largest operators and suppliers to re-evaluate the role Asia plays in their revenue mix.


nline gaming has, for much of the last decade, revolved around a white marketgrey market axis dominated by Europe and Asia. Many of the most successful operators and suppliers

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

have followed a simple formula, investing grey market revenues from Asia to grow in the regulated markets of Europe. This approach has powered the growth of many of the most recognisable names in iGaming, perhaps most notably bet365 and Playtech.


But a number of factors - including an increasing risk profile, the emergence of newly-regulating iGaming jurisdictions and greater local and international competition are now combining in a way that is completely redefining the global landscape. New jurisdictions are building regulatory frameworks for iGaming far more robust than anything on offer within Asia. The most notable of these are in the US, where the repeal of PASPA has opened the door to legal online sports betting for the first time, with a number of states already live. But this is very much a global phenomenon, where an economic downturn has led governments across the world to a conclusion yet to be reached in most of Asia: that it is better to regulate and tax online gaming

than make futile efforts to outlaw it. In Latin America, Colombia is live with a thriving online sports betting sector, while Brazil, Argentina and Peru are making steps in a similar direction; in Africa, the likes of Kenya and Tanzania are growing quickly; in eastern Europe and Eurasia, markets such as Georgia are being increasingly targeted. The result is that many iGaming firms are shifting resources towards these new opportunities. Take the example of platform provider SBTech, for a long time a strong performer in Asia, which in January appointed former Scientific Games CEO Gavin Isaacs as non-executive chairman in a clear pivot towards the US. “Isaacs will use his extensive 20 years’ gaming experience across a series of senior management positions to further grow the company’s rapidly expanding US presence,” the firm said in a statement at the time. Asian risk on the rise? Attitudes to nature of risk in Asia have changed. When the new wave of European regulation was introduced in the early 2010s, many of Europe’s largest, publicly listed operators withdrew from Asia entirely. Ladbrokes pulled out of China as early as 2010, with William Hill following in 2013. At the time, investors had little appetite for revenues from markets that were considered unsustainable. But in the years since, we have seen a very different approach. Many have observed the impressive growth of GVC, a company which performed extremely well in grey markets, using that growth to land major M&A targets and Ladbrokes Coral. Today, GVC is one of the world’s largest gaming operators in regulated markets. Similarly, others have observed that white markets are not devoid of risk themselves; the reduction in stake for FOBTs in the UK is perhaps the most notable example of political and public pressure conspiring to deliver a hammer blow to operators within a regulated market. “Diversification is the best way to mitigate risk,” one iGaming consultant based in Asia told AGB. “If you have a footprint in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, China and Malaysia, having your website blocked in the Philippines is not necessarily a decisive blow.” Looking at the region currently, of the major markets Malaysia and the Philippines

remain the most politically uncertain. The biggest prize, China, has enjoyed a period of relative stability, even if operators are constantly playing a game of cat and mouse with authorities. This is not to say the unexpected cannot have a major negative impact. Last July, Playtech saw its share price collapse by 25 percent in a single day on the back of a profit warning which predicted Asian revenues for 2018 would be €70 million below expectations. The warning singled out the Malaysian market, where Playtech has found itself under greater scrutiny as part of a government crackdown on online gaming. However, digging a little deeper and it appeared that it was actually increased competition in China that was at the root of Playtech’s woes. It would also suggest that even against a backdrop of the globalization of iGaming, the Asian opportunity remains too big to be ignored. Take NetEnt, another iGaming giant that has been among the first-movers in the US. Despite this push, the slots developer has also undertaken a major expansion in key Asian markets over recent months. “Europe still has top priority, followed by North America and Asia,” the company says in its corporate strategy. “Focus on regulated markets but continue with dot. com as long as this is commercially viable.” NetEnt CEO Therese Hillman has also recently pledged to “step up our efforts in the Asian market”. AGB understands that over the past 12 months, many of the most successful European slot providers have made Asia a number one priority. These companies have enjoyed extremely strong growth by disrupting larger incumbents in regulated markets, and have now begun to implement the same strategy in Asia. Despite the risks in Asia, its relatively low barriers to entry are particularly appealing. While the US is rightly generating a great deal of excitement, complex regulatory requirements fragmented across multiple states will likely rule out all but the largest companies. For mid-sized firms looking for growth outside of Europe - particularly those with enough scale to mitigate some risk - Asia is a far more attainable goal. “Yes, there are risks for iGaming companies in Asia,” the consultant based in the region told AGB. “But ultimately the opportunities are too big to ignore.”

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019





Australia takes on sporting cheats, but global action needed Australia is stepping up its game in seeking to stamp out match fixing, though the illegal gambling that underpins the problem is estimated to generate profits of at least $4.2 billion in just six jurisdictions and is growing much faster than legal wagering.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


inister for Sport, Senator Bridget McKenzie introduced new measures in February that also intend to address illegal gambling and doping, after a series of scandals rocked the reputation of teams in the sports mad nation. The changes will see the creation of a new agency called Sport Integrity Australia, which will bring together the Australian Sports AntiDoping Authority (ASADA), the National Integrity of Sport Unit and the national sports integrity functions of Sport Australia. A new National Sports Tribunal will hear anti-doping rule violations and other sports disputes, and resolve them consistently. Chris Eaton, who has worked on sport integrity at FIFA, INTERPOL and the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), said Australia, Italy and the U.K. have been been the leaders in acting to stop match fixing, but the problem is still growing fast. According to a white paper released last September by the Asian Racing Federation, growth in the illegal market is more than 30 percent that of the legal betting industry. Not only that, problem gamblers are the ones most likely to be involved in illegal gambling, which lacks many of the safeguards provided by legal operators. The ARF report found that in Australia, the incidence of non-problem gamblers turning to illegal offshore websites was 21.5 percent, whilst amongst problem gamblers, 78.5 percent were gambling illegally offshore. Betting in Australia is regulated at the federal and state level. The government introduced changes to the Interactive Gambling Act in 2017 to put an end to offshore gambling operators targeting Australians. The amended act also banned in-play betting services. However, there needs to be more international cooperation to clamp down on what is now a global business. “The centralising of national resources will go along way to ensure the effective mutual exchange of information and intelligence into one operational and policy platform,” said Fred Lord, Director Anti-Corruption & Transparency Operations at ICSS. “There is still far more to be done, as threats to Australian sport are planned, prepared and executed by offshore international criminal enterprises, that are well resourced, experienced, and who share intelligence, financial and networking routes to commit large scale betting fraud. It is important for Governments and sport to understand that electronic sport betting monitoring is not the gatekeeper to protect sport. In fact it


can become a fig leaf, if governments do not collectively work together internationally to legalise, regulate and enforce sport betting which still continues to grow at a rapid rate.” The ARF report studied six jurisdictions -- Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa and South Korea. In all, it found that illegal gambling was outpacing legal business, with an estimated economic loss to governments across the nations of $10 billion. About 80 percent of all sports bets were thought to be illegal, with the total amount wagered in 2017 estimated at between $340 billion to $1.7 trillion, with some forecasts even suggesting volume of up to $3 trillion. “These large illegal profits lead to matchfixing and money laundering,” the report found. “Illegal betting related sports corruption was identified in every jurisdiction, while transnational organised crime launders $140 billion via illegal betting channels every year.” In South Korea, the illegal betting margin reached as much as 67 percent of the legal

market, with that figure at 37 percent in Singapore and 36 percent in Hong Kong. Australia has the smallest portion at 6 percent. Eaton says the only effective way to tackle the problem is through regulation. “First and foremost all nations should recognise the reality that sport betting exists in their countries, whether banned or not, and that it will only further expand,” he said. “Just as self-regulation in sport has failed, so is prohibition of sport betting failing. And worse, in effect prohibition is directly and indirectly driving sport betting into the influence and/or hands of criminals.” “So, Australia, the UK, Italy and any other national that really wants to fix match fixing in sport, must engage the international community to create global mechanisms to recognise sport betting, regulate its international transactions and respond to unregulated rogue sport betting with aggressive multinational policing and prosecution. Without a global plan, national efforts, even exceptional ones, will fail before the global onslaught of sport betting.”


Paddy Power calls for betting shop competition

2016/2017 Gambling expenditure AS$23.69b


Casino table games $4.79b


Sports betting $1.06b


Racing $3.3b


(Source: Queensland government)

The government of Victoria is being urged to consider a revamp of its wagering industry to allow more than one company to operate retail betting shops, local media reports. Global wagering giant Paddy Power Betfair, which owns Sportsbet in Australia, told the state government that increasing competition in the online betting space has led to greater consumer choice, product innovation and a “better overall experience for wagering customers”. “It is logical that the same benefits could be enjoyed by retail wagering customers if there was liberalization in the retail license structure,” said Sportsbet. At the moment, only ASX-listed Tabcorp is permitted to run physical betting shops in the state, as it holds the Victorian government’s 12-year wagering license.

Merger drives Tabcorp results Tabcorp’s combination with Tatts Group has continued to provide strong financial results for the group, with profit, revenue, and EBITDA from continuing operations recording significant increases in FY19H1. Statutory net profit after tax (NPAT) increased more than six-fold to A$182.5 ($130 million) in the first half of the 2019 financial year, while revenue increased by 108.3 percent year-on-year to A$2.8 billion. Compared to pro-forma results from 18H1, revenue increased 6.1 percent year-on-year in 19H1, while EBITDA was up 9 percent. Tabcorp Managing Director and CEO, David Attenborough said that the company’s integration with Tatts Group has been progressing well, leading to an upgrade of their synergy targets. “We delivered $24 million of EBITDA from synergies and business improvements in 1H19 and are set to deliver $55 million in FY19, up from our previous target of $50 million.”

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019



SKYCITY goes green SKYCITY Entertainment has launched a green fund with the intent for its New Zealand properties to become carbon neutral this year and those in Australia from 2020.


t’s one of the first major New Zealand companies to go carbon neutral and its initiatives will put it at the forefront of operators in Asia when it comes to environmental initiatives. SKYCITY said it’s fund will be paid for via an internal carbon levy on all emissions amounting to $25 per ton of carbon produced. Funds from SKYCITY’s green fund will be used to offset its carbon footprint to net zero by investing in emission reduction projects such as wind and solar farms. The green fund will also accrue and invest in projects identified and developed by SKYCITY employees to reduce SKYCITY’s carbon emissions in accordance with its Science Based Targets, set in 2019. “Climate change is recognised as one of the biggest risks facing the planet, and we have a responsibility to our investors and communities to take action and play our part,” CEO Graeme Stephens said. “The fund enables us to proactively allocate capital to projects that will meaningfully reduce our emissions over time, whether that be new technology, LED lighting or upgrading particular facilities.” The New Zealand-listed operator is also encouraging its staff to participate, with the company planning to match their offset dollar-for-dollar. Already members of SKYCITY’s board and executive team, including Chairman Rob Campbell, CSR board committee chair Sue Suckling and Stephens, have gone carbon neutral. SKYCITY’s Environment Manager Courtney Simpson says the climate change strategy is ambitious, but achievable, and follows international best practice. “Over the past year we have been working incredibly hard to measure our carbon footprint, understand our impact, set science-based targets, and develop the plan as to how, as a company, we can ensure we are taking action to limit global warming to below 2 degrees. “Already as a business we’ve managed to cut our emissions by 8 percent but this is

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

just the start. By putting a price on carbon, we are adding a hard cost to the bottom line, giving a clear incentive to every SKYCITY team member to reduce emissions across the business,” she said. SKYCITY, whose flagship property is in Auckland, reported strong results for the first half of the fiscal 2019 year, though warned that it has seen a slowdown going into the second half. Normalized net profit after tax was up 11.4 percent, driven by a solid performance in its Auckland operations and significantly improved turnover in its International Business. NPAT was NZ$97 million (US$64.3 million) and normalized Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation, and Amortisation (EBITDA) was up 10.5 percent to NZ$189.1million, with 73 percent of this being earned from the company’s Auckland operations. The company reported a lower win rate (0.98 percent compared to the theoretical win rate of 1.35 percent) in its International Business which with certain other adjustments meant reported NPAT was down 11.4 percent and reported EBITDA was down 8.2 percent For the full year, ending June 30, the company expects growth in normalized EBITDA of 5 percent, with both the domestic and international business facing more challenges. The slowdown in China’s economy is expected to hurt VIP business. The company noted that revenue from electronic gaming machines had been particularly positive in the first half, contributing to record local gaming revenue in Auckland of $219.6 million. EGM revenue was up 7.2 percent with table revenue up 4.8 percent. EGM performance was also strong in Hamilton, where the company has introduced new products and changed the floor layout. As a result, it has applied to the Gambling Commission to change the product mix losing three tables in exchange for 60 EGMs. SKYCITY also has a resort in Queenstown and in Adelaide Australia. It recently announced the sale of its Darwin casino to Delaware North.



(in million $)

Auckland 1H18




Hamilton 1H18 1H19




Adelaide (A$)












Normalised IB Revenue 1H18 1H19




Total Normalised Revenue (continuing operations) 1H18





(Source: SKYCITY Entertainment Group Limited.)

NZ TAB teams with SG Digital on sportsbook solution The New Zealand TAB has launched a new sportsbook on mobile and digital platforms, powered by SG Digital’s OpenBet sports betting technology. Integrating with NZRB’s retail and pools operations and enabling enhanced features such as Cashout, improved In-Play and fewer suspensions, TAB punters will have access to a modern and fully featured sportsbook, SG said. John Allen, CEO of New Zealand Racing Board, said, “This is the most ambitious and technically complex project our organization has ever undertaken, and together with SG Digital, we’ve delivered a sophisticated, world-class betting experience for our customers. Our new OpenBet platform has the proven capability to deliver real benefits to our customers and, importantly, enable us to deliver increased returns to the racing and sport industry in New Zealand.”

Activists step up pressure for racing ban New Zealand’s horse racing industry, which is already facing major challenges in the form of a government overhaul, has now come under threat from activists who are calling for a ban on both wagering and racing itself. “It’s time for horse racing to be put out to pasture,” says Marianne Macdonald from SAFE for Animals New Zealand. The organisation believes racing is cruel and leads to deaths and injury. MacDonald wants gambling on horses outlawed, as she believes this will lead to the demise of the industry. In New Zealand, the issues are the use of the whip, which is permitted but restricted until 100 metres from the winning post, and “bleeding”, where a thoroughbred develops a haemorrhage in the lungs after a race.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019



Visa crisis looms over IPI construction Imperial Pacific International is facing further disruption at its unfinished Saipan property after new visa regulations further dried up the labor pool available to complete the long-delayed project.


he U.S. Department of State recently removed the Philippines from the list of qualifying countries for the U.S. H-2B worker visa program, along with the Dominican Republic and Ethiopia, due to concerns about overstaying. The Northern Mariana islands are a U.S. commonwealth in the Pacific Ocean, with a permanent population of about 55,000. As a result, the islands are heavily dependent on imported labor, especially in the trades, such as masons, plumbers and carpenters. There were a total of 844 H-2B visa holders working at the IPI construction site

but that figure would be slashed by almost half with the departure of the workers from the Philippines, which has been a great source of skilled labour for both the CNMI and Guam due to their geographic proximity. The State Department ban took effect on Jan. 19 and extends through to Jan. 18 next year. The decision, won’t affect workers who still have valid H-2B visas but they will no longer be eligible for an extension. There were already reports that petitions for Filipino nationals who were supposed to arrive to replace the workers that had expiring H-2B visas have been denied.

Visitor arrivals Year to date 96989

Islands to get reconstruction aid after super typhoon 37703




(Source: Marianas Visitors Authority)

Saipan and Tinian may receive about $100 million in aid to help recovery from the category-five Typhoon Yutu, which hit the islands last October. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it had given more than $21 million to homeowners, and more than $70 million in low-interest loans to small business owners. Water supplies have been fully restored, while 82 percent of Saipan has electricity again. The storm caused the widespread cancellation of flights, dealing a heavy blow to the tourism industry.

IPI halted casinos ops due to technical glitch Imperial Pacific was forced to briefly halt casino operations in late January due to a problem with its surveillance systems. The shutdown lasted for about half a day, with the company saying concern for “safety” was the overriding factor behind the temporary closure. “Due to safety concerns, and because the casino had very little to no patrons in the early morning hours, the decision was made to close the casino until the surveillance system was operational,” it said. It was the second time the casino had been forced to close in three months, with operations suspended in November in the wake of Typhoon Yutu.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

In February, the Department of Labour granted Imperial Pacific’s request for exemption from a requirement that 30 percent of its construction workers come from the U.S. However, that won’t make up for the lack of Filipino labour. Granting the extension, CNMI Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente noted the difficulty in finding U.S. construction workers. Only about 1 percent of construction workers currently registered with the CNMI Department of Commerce are U.S. citizens. Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific won the license to operate Saipan’s only casino in 2014, with the ambitious project launched amidst much


optimism the island’s pristine beaches would pull in VIPs from China and Northern Asia. Early figures detailing monthly rolling volume at a temporary casino appeared to confirm the promise, though the company has since stopped monthly reporting after transferring to its new premises in 2017. Gross casino revenue in the first half of 2018, the most recent figures available, had dropped to HK$3.6 billion, compared with $7.3 billion in the comparable period a year earlier. The resort has already faced numerous delays, blamed mostly on the disruption caused by Typhoon Soudelor in 2015 and labour issues, including an illegal hiring scandal involving one of its main contractors. Scheduled to open in August 2017, the property has now been given an extension until February 2021. Imperial Pacific Interim Chairman Mark Brown said IPI is trying to hire construction workers in South Korea and Taiwan, which are on the DHS list of H-2B eligible nations. “We are going to be on target to get the project done on Feb. 28, 2021. We are working right now to finish the beachfront resort, the

15 villas and the pool area. We will finish those portions first for the VIPs. Then we will go back and finish the tower and the whole front,” he told local media.

Scheduled to open in August 2017, the property has now been given an extension until February 2021.

Brown returned to the company in October last year after stepping down as CEO in December. Since then, the company has seen a revolving door of executives, including Henry Cheang, who had been serving as both CEO and chairman of IPI since former chairman Marco Teng stepped down in August after

only eight months in the position. The State Department’s decision will not only further slowdown the construction of the flamboyantly-designed Imperial Pacific Resort, but also other tourism-related projects that are being developed. CNMI officials say the worker shortage could affect the development of the islands, which were beginning to see economic gains after years of inactivity. The CNMI economy grew 28.2 percent in 2016 from 3.4 percent in 2015, while posting stable 25.1 percent growth in 2017. The rebound was driven mostly by increased tourism and casino revenues. Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said it is now the time for Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan, the CNMI’s non-voting delegate to the U.S. Congress, to use his influence and connections with the Democratic Party-led House of Representatives in looking for a possible solution to the worker crisis. “All our construction workers are H-2Bs. Now that the Philippines is out, where do you expect our businesses to get the workers they need? I’m not sure how many workers are affected, but it is pushing us to even worse than where we are at.”

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019





Private member’s bill sparks online gambling debate A private member’s bill recently introduced in parliament is expected to give fresh impetus to the debate on legalizing online gaming and sports betting in India, potentially unlocking one of the world’s largest sports betting markets.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019




he bill was introduced by politician Shashi Tharoor, who belongs to the main Indian National Congress opposition party. According to experts, including legal practitioners who have studied it closely, the bill is well timed and could be an important step towards legalising or regulating betting and gambling activities in India. Based on the recommendations of the Justice Chauhan Commission report last year, the bill proposes the establishment of an overarching body to regulate online gaming and sports betting in India. It criminalises sports fraud, including match-fixing and aims to put a check on the flourishing online gaming market in India, which is operating mostly in a legal grey zone as the central government has not made any laws for its regulation. The Supreme Court is yet to give a decisive verdict on the subject, although state-based High Courts have handed down decisions that have legalised some online activities. In Kolkata, for example, poker is legal and poker websites such as Adda52 have established offices there, while Sikkim, a mountainous state in the north-east of India, has a separate law for online gambling and sports betting. “While a private member’s bill has a slim chance of being accepted as law by the parliament

as it is not backed by the party to which the said member of parliament belongs, it often leads to debates in the house, as well as in the media and other public forums. The bill has lapsed as the parliament is not going to have more sessions. But it can be reintroduced when it convenes again,” said Tanisha Khanna, a lawyer with Nishith Desai associates, a Mumbai-based law firm that looks closely into gambling-related issues.

will be good if “the Itdebate continues in parliament. ” The Indian Parliament is expected to reconvene after general elections in May this year. Roland Landers, who heads the All India Gaming Federation, which is working on creating awareness about gambling in India, welcomed the bill. He said the organisation would take it up with Mr Tharoor to ensure the bill gets re-introduced. “It will be good if the debate continues in parliament. This will help MPs get an understanding of the issue.”

“The debate on the bill will help MPs know that a lot of revenue is lost due to the gambling being illegal in the country. Some of this money is also laundered and ends up financing terror activities. This can be checked with legalisation,” he said. Speaking to AGB, Ranjana Adhikari, a lawyer also with Nishith Desai, said that such a debate would be beneficial for the sector and that it has already started with the report of the Law Commission headed by retired Justice Chauhan. As a fast-growing and relatively new sector in India, Adhikari argues that the central government should be the one to draw up regulations. At present, under the Indian Constitution, individual states are responsible for legislation on land-based gambling. “The central government has been focusing on the digital India campaign so they can consider it too.” On the issue of sports betting overall, Adhikari said that it was a game of skill on which bets are made, similar to poker or rummy that are very popular in India. “Horse racing is legal in India and it involves placing bets on what is considered a game of skill. Likewise, cricket for example is also a game of skill and so it should be legal to place bets on the outcomes of cricket matches.” According to Adhikari and Khanna, the issue remains a moral one.

Competitive landscape in Goa

Ownership Started operations in

Gaming Positions Gaming Area

Casino Pride

Casino Pride2

Deltin Caravela

Deltin JAQK

Deltin Royale

Maharajah Casino

Pride Group

Pride Group

Delta Corp Group

Delta Corp Group

Delta Corp Group

MDLR Group



2000, then decommissioned in May 2013; recommissioned in 2016

2008; rebranded in 2013


Restarted operations in 2018; license had earlier lapsed in 2012







40,000 sq.ft.*


3,000 sq.ft

13,000 sq.ft.

40,000 sq.ft.

NA (Source: Delta Corp)

Meghalaya mulls casinos

Betfair stops Indian business

State officials from Meghalaya, a state located in the North East of India, are cautiously exploring the idea of opening a casino in the region, The Shillong Times reports. Sources in the Secretariat said that political leaders are keen to see a casino open up, likely at the Byrnihat in Ri Bhoi district. However, the officials added they wanted to move slowly on the matter because of the morality factor. It is understood that although the idea is only in the planning stage, related departments have already begun working on it. The government would be looking for a casino model along the lines of Nepal and Sikkim, where locals would be forbidden to enter.

Betfair stopped accepting players from India effective 28th January, 2019, G.Laws reported. In an email sent to its Indian users, the online company further asked users to manage any open positions and withdraw any funds in advance of 28th January. Betfair in its communique to users did not specify the reasons as to why it was suddenly ceasing all India operations. The website when accessed from India does not allow bets to be placed and gives the following message on its homepage: “Our Software detects that you may be accessing the Betfair website from a country that Betfair does not accept bets from. If you believe that this detection has occurred in error, please Contact us for further assistance.”

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019



From Art to Science: The Evolution of the Smart Table Table games occupy prime locations on the casino floor and endure as iconic cultural symbols of high-stakes excitement and fabulous lifestyles.


ut despite dramatic changes across the gaming industry in recent years, driven by technology, live betting on traditional table games is still the preferred experience for many. These live games played with cards, dice, and chips, while driving the majority of casino revenue, do present operational challenges. Reliance on manual procedures and human observation has meant that table games

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

operators have not been able to adopt the analytic and data-driven capabilities used by other segments of the modern integrated resort. That has all changed. Table games are getting smarter. When Walker Digital Table Systems (WDTS) introduced Perfect Pay Baccarat, it was the gaming industry’s first fully-realized smart table product. Its goal was to use emerging wireless technology to bring


automation, data accuracy, efficiencies and game protection to traditional casino games. Gaming chips were embedded with radiofrequency (RFID) internal hardware, and digital monitoring systems were installed within the table itself allowing a processor to read, count, and track chips and bets instantly. The effect of Perfect Pay, the first true smart table system, was immediate and dramatic. Thousands of chips and multiple bets could now be counted in a fraction of a second. Errors were detected immediately, and security became nearly flawless. Operators who transitioned to the new smart table technology reaped the benefits of a quantum leap in table game efficiency. As new systems were proven on casino floors around the world, the industry embraced smart tables, and Perfect Pay, once the lone entrant in the category, has been joined by a growing number of fledgling smart table options. Making the transition from manual to automated table games is challenging and involves many different operating areas as procedures and process that have been in place for decades are retooled and reimagined. As a committed business partner, WDTS is highly engaged in helping customers manage these changes, with a dedicated team with years of operational and technical casino industry experience. As smart tables were redrawing the operational baselines for table game efficiency, accuracy, security, and data collection, the question remained: what else was possible? What happens when the operation of an analog game evolves to become digital? WDTS not only designed a better table game but a revolutionary digital gaming platform with vast potential. In the same way network technology revolutionized slot operations and marketing decades ago, the possibilities are likewise endless when table games become a digital platform. Neil Crossan, Chief Commercial Officer, talked about the potential of smart tables when they were still in their infancy. “While Perfect Pay’s security and accuracy benefits were being proven in casinos, WDTS was developing an RFID engine that could do far more. It was designed as an entirely new digital platform for launching innovative applications.” Emily Io, SVP of Sales for WDTS, explained that once the industry became confident smart tables were the new operational standard, casinos began to embrace them as a vehicle to drive new customer experiences. “Now that the technology is here and trusted, casinos are starting to explore the potential of smart tables as a platform. We’re creating completely

new tools to engage players and maximize the player experience that were never thought possible on a table game.” One groundbreaking new way that smart tables are becoming an interactive engagement platform is with WDTS’ Elite Baccarat mid-hand bets. This kind of instant real-time gameplay option is only possible on a digital table platform. Perfect Pay’s continuous and unobtrusive monitoring capabilities allow operators to track and test features for data-proven performance and margin enhancements.

Another breakthrough is Chip Based Player Tracking. Associating chips to players has long been a table games “holy grail.” This feature has immediate applications for player tournaments, marketing applications, for player bonusing, and in chip rolling programs. WDTS is at the forefront of the digital table revolution, pushing the capabilities of this new gaming technology platform further into places that were never thought possible a few years ago. What does the future hold for table games? Well, you might say that nothing is off the table.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


ASEAN Gaming Summit 2019

Asia’s must-attend gaming conference The ASEAN Gaming Summit returns for its third edition this year, held at the Conrad Manila on 19-21 March 2019.


ver the years, the conference has become known as one of Asia’s leading gaming conferences, uniquely designed to attract both land-based and online gaming professionals and to promote the cross-pollination of ideas and experiences from both sides. This year, the conference is expected to exceed attendance records, with more than 400 gaming professionals confirmed to attend, increasing 20 percent from 2018. There are already more than 70 speakers confirmed for the conference this year, including famed entrepreneur and investor Jay Walker, Founder of Walker Digital, as well as Earle Hall of AXESNetwork, a TED-Talks professional speaker who specializes in blockchain technology. The conference will also hear from Alfredo Lim, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation, one of the most important figures in the Philippine gaming industry.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

The conference is also supported by a roster of key industry suppliers, including EBET, Aristocrat, Asia Live Tech, Betradar, Scientific Games, Walker Digital and many more. “The team is really excited to bring our 2019 edition of the ASEAN Gaming Summit to fruition. Everyone in the team has worked hard to bring industry heavy-weights onto the stage and to cover issues and topics that are at the forefront of our industry,” said Felix Ng, Conference Director at Asia Gaming Brief. “We’ve also made sure that we provide a fun, and relaxed environment for delegates to network and form new business partnerships. In addition to our new ‘Chillax Lounge’ area, we’ll also be bringing back our line up of unforgettable networking parties, cocktail nights and poker tournaments throughout the three-day event,” he added. Those that have not yet signed up for ASEAN Gaming Summit 2019 are encouraged to do so as soon as possible. Registrations are open until 18th March 2019.


With thanks to all the sponsors of the

Platinum Sponsor

Headline Sponsors

Chillax Lounge Sponsor

Focus Day Sponsors

Networking Bar Sponsor


Lunch Sponsor

Documentation Sponsor

Cocktail Sponsors

Lanyard sponsor

Refreshment Sponsor

VIP After Party Sponsor

Charging Station Sponsor



Party Table Sponsor

Venue Conrad Manila, Seaside Boulevard, Coral Way, Pasay, 1300 Metro Manila, Philippines Registration or Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Rapid expansion seen for 2019


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? A strategically executed 2018 plan has seen eBET’s player base double, enabling rapid expansion in 2019. The biggest development in the first quarter of 2019 has been the addition of 23 Live Dealer tables through the launch of eBET’s second Asian Live Dealer casino. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? Our core Chinese speaking markets continue to remain strong. However, in terms of player growth, Thailand and Vietnam are expanding at exponential rates. In late 2018 these markets have transitioned from developing markets to self-sustainable growth markets. What are your plans for 2019? eBET continues to strengthen our position in the gaming industry. In 2019 we will invest in the categories that we believe

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

we can gain the most market share: mobile, innovative game content and partner growth. eBET’s award-winning mobile first mentality will continue to evolve with updates to our apps. Mobile is the fastestgrowing platform contributing 80 percent of overall bets last year. eBET is well-positioned to help drive innovation in digital gaming and contribute to an improved customer experience for operators. Product development such as interactive hosts, customized product look-and-feel and ease of integration with gaming partners will drive the digital transformation of the gaming sector and encourage player adoption. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? Empowering the next generation of mobile gamers is incredibly important to the future of the industry. With a redesigned product offering that encourages young people to engage with our games, eBET believes we

have tapped into the largest growth market available today. Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? Our second studio expansion will add over 250 headcount in the first half of this year to support our expansion in SEA.

SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT 53 Betradar - Michael Maerz, managing director Asia

Asian cup kicks off


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? The launch of the Asian Cup within our market-leading Virtual Football offering has been very well received. It features all 24 teams that qualified for the 2019 competition . Like all our Virtual Sports, it is built using the most realistic graphics and betting markets, and allows our customers to generate incremental revenues well ahead of, during and even after the actual tournament. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? In terms of geographical regions, the demand continues to come from operators with Philippine-based licenses. In relation to our range of products and services, 2018 saw a big spike in our Managed Trading Services (MTS), our risk and liability management solution that also utilises user profiling on behalf of an operator. Our newly enhanced Numbers Betting offer is also continuing to prove popular. This comprehensive solution provides results of more than 150 lottery draws worldwide, offering fixed odds betting on a variety of markets and visualisation of the actual draws. Again, there continues to be demand across our

Virtual Sports products, in particular around Virtual Basketball and Virtual Football, two sports which are quite popular in the region. What are your plans for 2019? Like 2018, I expect there will be more and more operators interested in our Managed Trading Services (MTS) and our Virtual Inplay products, including the recently released Virtual Tennis in-play. This is why one of our key focuses for 2019 is MTS. We are also set to add to our already rich suite of Virtual Sports betting products with new Baseball and Cricket In-play in 2019. In addition, we will continue to tailor our Pre-Match Odds Service and Live Odds Service more towards the Asian market, both in terms of content and bespoke mechanics and methodologies. Our recently introduced ad:s offering presents some great opportunities for Asianfacing sponsorships and marketing solutions too, and we are seeking to enter into more audio- visual streaming co-operations with a strong focus on Asia. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? Due to its population and passion for

sports such as cricket and hockey, there are many who expect India will without a doubt be the most promising market in the next few years. In South East and North Asia, Cambodia is looking to introduce a regulatory framework and we might see some movements in Japan and Vietnam as well as possibly China. Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? At a management level, in the second quarter of last year we introduced a Managing Director of Asia for Betting and Gaming and earlier this year we brought in a Head of Business Development for Media in the region too. Both are in the process of restructuring their respective teams, which includes hiring additional staff and opening offices in new and exciting locations in the region. This is both because of the future market opportunities the region offers, and because we want to remain ahead of the game through a commitment to supplying our knowledge and services in both new and existing markets for bookmakers across the world.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019



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EXPO HALL FORBES 1 Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019






Charging station

Chillax Lounge 2
















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CONFERENCE FORBES 3 Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Nurturing linked progressives


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? We have been fortunate to have had an exciting year in Asia. Perhaps one of the biggest developments is that we have made a concerted effort to nurture the linked progressive segment, as evidenced with the approval and first installs of Gold Stacks 88. Our customers have told us their players enjoy progressive links, so that has inspired us to provide linked products that will help our customers provide the gaming experience their players want. In addition, we have seen exciting new releases in standalone products, such as the approval of Dragon of the Eastern Ocean, Lucky Festival, 9 Princes of the Dragon King – Tiger and Koi. Our global design and development teams work hard to create a deep and broad portfolio of products for our customers, and the linked progressive and standalone products are symbols of our commitment. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? We are continuing to see demand across Asia-Pacific, including in the Philippines and Vietnam, where the ongoing expansion of gaming has allowed us to deliver new product to our customers. In addition, in Macau, we are seeing demand for slots with growth in the mass market. What are your plans for 2019? Our goal is to be the best possible partner to our customers, and to do that, we must fulfil initiatives in two areas: people and product. First, we will continue to develop our people, investing in our culture and in our people to ensure Aristocrat remains an employer of choice. When we have the best people working for us, that helps us to build the best possible product for our customers. When we create great products, that allows us to offer a portfolio that enables our customers to meet the needs of the various segments of Asian consumers. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? We see opportunities across a number of markets in the region, but how we serve our customers will continue to be what

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

differentiates Aristocrat from other suppliers and ultimately determine our success. We are intent and focused on honouring our commitment to our existing install base and to offering new and differentiated experiences for our customers and their players. Helping our customers succeed is our passion, and as long as we continue to do this, we believe we will be well positioned across the region.

Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? We have a great team in place, and we are committed to continuing to improve both individually and collectively – that’s a part of our culture. As the market evolves, we will evolve our business and match the best people to the optimal locations in order to deliver the great service our customers expect from us.


Building momentum in Asia


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? We are constantly creating and developing innovative products to empower our potential and existing partners and help them take their business to the next level. Among the major achievements of this year was the introduction of our groundbreaking data feed solution AJNA. It is an augmented live video streaming powered by AI/ML which recognizes gameflow of the sporting events. AJNA tracks all the actions that take place on field and based on the collected data creates statistics, odds and scouting data without any human interaction. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? We have established a solid presence

in Asia right now, offering market-leading products and solutions. We believe that business opportunities are flexible and unlimited, considering all the potential in this region, especially in South East Asia. What are your plans for 2019? We have been working on establishing and fortifying our presence in the Asian region, and this year we plan to build momentum to expand our coverage further in this unique and interesting market. Furthermore, we also intend to work with local providers and operators to continue enriching our already immense portfolio of products and services. In addition, we plan to take the popular Asian local game concepts and develop in-house games, to enhance gaming offerings for our partners.

Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? Currently, there are many markets that are slowly taking steps towards legalization of the local gaming business, which in turn will bring along a lot of changes and open new opportunities for igaming industry. Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? When undertaking efforts to strengthen presence in Asia in 2018, we have been very flexible and focused on localization by building strong partnerships with local businesses. In 2019, we will keep on working harder and expand further on both team and products levels.

Asia Pioneer Entertainment - CEO Herman Ng

Fortune Cup launches in Macau


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? So far, we have been working on expanding the distribution of Konami’s Fortune Cup Horse Racing ETG product. The products have been released at two of the most prominent casinos in Asia since March. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? Electronic Table Games (ETG) are gaining traction in modern casinos in both Macau and South East Asia as they are user-friendly and can be easily upgraded. Macau-leading ETG vendors such as Jumbo and Spintec provide reconfigurable and customizable stadium / standalone table games terminals.

What are your plans for 2019? Following the pace of Asia-Pacific market expansion, APE is looking to regional distribution in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Cambodia. We are also increasing our sales, expanding the number of our people and our relationships in these cities. In the next couple of years, those regions are going to provide significant growth for us. In addition, we intend to further develop our maintenance and servicing operation in our home market of Macau.

Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? Roulette seemed to be the most popular table game over the past years. However, due to increasing numbers of players visiting from China in recent years, products such as Sic-Bo & Baccarat are on going to be a trend in the coming years. Undoubtedly, Japan is another huge market for both ETG & EGM, and APE has a solution on both standalone & stadium.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019





Market Trends. Quality Products. Networking. 市場趨勢、優質產品、建立聯繫 G2E Asia: Informs smart business decisions. 亞洲國際娛樂展:助您作出明智的商業决策

2019年5月21-23日 THE VENETIAN MACAO | 澳門威尼斯人 A G2 EEVENT

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019




SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT 59 Continent8, Craig Lusher, business development manager

Superior WAF service demand growing


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? Continent 8 continues to invest in its European and North American cloud services offering with a new node added to Taiwan to serve the Asian market. DDoS mitigation offerings continue to grow in capability with the addition of SSL and WAF services. USA continues to see major expansion with facilities now launched in Newark, Philadelphia, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Continent 8 will continue to serve all US states as they are regulated. Network capacity continues to increase globally with new optimised routes to meet the demand of low latency and redundancy throughout Asia.SD WAN services will be launched in the very near future. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? DDoS mitigation services – C8 employ a technique that can offer auto-mitigating DDoS protection- with this, attacks can be

mitigated near instantaneously with minimal degradation to service. High demand exists for a superior WAF service that can properly mitigate application vulnerabilities. C8 are working with technology partners to bring a new bespoke offering into the marketplace with formal launch imminent. New licencing models are seeing many Asian companies look West to Europe and likewise European companies to the East. C8’s global network is built for the gambling and casino industry, C8 is the only provider to offer its services in all global gaming jurisdictions - This makes Continent 8 unique in that it is the only effective global partner to serve the gaming industry. What are your plans for 2019? Imminent product launch for SDWAN to enable a more fluid approach for connectivity options – connect Asia to RoW and an imminent product launch for WAF to bolster C8’s ‘Secure’ product suite. A Service Operation Centre will open this

calendar year and is planned for Australia. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? Business in Taiwan continues to grow rapidly. As with the US and Europe, Continent 8 will continue to expand its service offerings to serve all regulated and active gaming jurisdictions, including Asia, in line with our strategy to serve all global gaming jurisdictions and single partner of choice Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? Peter Williams was appointed as Managing Director for Asia and relocated to Manila. Peter will lead the rapid expansion of services and resource across Asia having worked with Continent 8 for over 10 years. He will grow the local Asian team with plans for sales, solutions architects and will leverage a highly effective centralised marketing and operations function.


Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT 61 Scientific Games - Ken Jolly, vice president & managing director - Asia

Jin Ji Bao Xi tops expectations


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? The launch of Jin Ji Bao Xi (JJBX) and the success of the first game, Echo Fortunes, in February, 2018 saw SG Asia install this brand new multi-denomination, symbol driven linked progressive jackpot product into Macau, Cambodia, Philippines, Malaysia, with installs soon to happen in Singapore, Vietnam, and Korea. JJBX has surpassed all of our expectations as the top SG link product throughout Asia. We launched with Echo Fortunes and shortly after followed by game two Endless Treasure. March 2019 will see us launch of game three Prancing Pigs. JJBX has a huge selection of multi-denomination sets and jackpot parameters within the software to appeal to all venues and players, along with our most recent standalone progressive versions named VIP JJBX (2019 launch). From the Casino Management System

(CMS) side, we aligned our system architecture to an open system base software version dedicated to Asia with a special focus on VIP and Table innovations for the Asian region. Furthermore, the first installation of the Shuffle Star card shuffler has taken place in Macau. SG’s latest continuous shuffler provides significant enhancements over the earliest version of the One2Six of which there are still many in the global market. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? Macau and the Philippines are currently at the forefront of Asian market growth. The Philippines has proven to be the strongest market for table products, while Cambodia, Vietnam, and Korea are also showing amazing growth. Our electronic table systems Fusion is performing very well in Singapore & Korea and is regarded as the Gold Standard in these markets.

What are your plans for 2019? We are planning for a stronger and exciting roadmap of games, for slots we are launching the Dualos X cabinet in May. We also made some new developments in electronic table systems such as the Quartz cabinet. Then there’s new progressive jackpot equipment for table games, to fully enhance our dominant position in the market and create larger table jackpots than in the past across all table games, which we believe will further excite table game players. Additionally, the new applications in CMS such as Bet by Bet and the SHUFFLINK integration for Table optimization/dealer performance should be interesting, along with SG Vision for automatic chip recognition and facial recognition on slots and tables. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? No doubt the Philippines, however, Cambodia is showing overall market potential. Korea and Singapore are also strong ETG markets with a lot of promise. Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? I’m very proud of our strong Asian team (customer facing and non-customer facing folks) who work together to deliver a positive customer experience when dealing with SG as seen by our 2018 business performance, we will continue on our current strategies of bringing innovative products to the market which customers see as an advantage to their business by entertaining their players and enhancing operational efficiencies.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Slots ready to roll


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? This year we will be introducing our newly developed Standalone cabinet “GENESIS STAR” and a variety of slot games that can be played on it, including games themed on SEGA’s IP. Over the years SEGA SAMMY has successfully expanded the installation of multi station ETGs in Macau, but this year we are finally ready to release our slot machines into the market. Some of the games we plan to release are themed on SEGA’s video games that are enormously popular and played around the world! Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? Standalone type baccarat, which started operation in Macau last year is performing outstandingly, and we are hearing positive feedback from operators. Standalone type Baccarat has a unique function to see the

result of the game without placing bets, which enables players to proceed the game history until their favorite trend appears. This feature solves the problem of the game being avoided for play because of unfavored trends. What are your plans for 2019? This year we will be expanding our business to Southeast Asia with our new slot machines and downsized ETGs. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? Market focused on entertainment. We believe that winning or losing is not the only fact that attracts players to casinos, rather the elements of entertainment and the process of play is equally important for players that seek true excitement. Therefore, markets that value entertainment and provide players an unique experience is a market we believe will show strong growth in the future.

Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? As a preparation to expand our business to Southeast Asia, we have concluded distributor agreement with Jade Entertainment and Gaming Technologies, Inc.(Jade) in Philippine market.

Exterity, Jamie Hind, regional director Asia Pacific

Eyeing emerging market growth


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? Exterity has already seen a number of new product launches and incremental updates to our hardware and software platforms (These updates are all included in our AvediaCare support and warranty program) this year. However Asia in particular has seen a huge amount of interest and take up and this is not surprising in such an innovative, forward thinking and developing region where people really do want to ensure they get the very best solution and use technology to create an immersive and exciting visitor or guest experience. We have recently released jackpot integration meaning that we can deliver any content, to any screen or device, anywhere triggered by jackpot feeds based on values, thresholds or other indicators.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? Asia has seen huge growth for us as a region over the last 12-18 months across the traditional markets, for example Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau, but what is really exciting is seeing the huge demand being created in emerging markets such as Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia who are very quickly establishing themselves as fabulous destinations leveraging the very best that technology can offer. What are your plans for 2019? 2019 is an exciting year for Exterity in Asia as we continue to cement our position as a market leader in IP Video and Digital Signage solutions and expand our ever growing portfolio of collaborative technology partners and end users. We aim to provide IP and AV over IP

Technology Overviews and Training Sessions across Asia so we can help people understand what is possible (And just as importantly what is not!) with a centralised platform and how Exterity, along with our partners, can deliver a complete solution for any Casino, Venue, Arena or Hotel. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand will certainly be a focus for us and at Exterity we are excited by the opportunity to be part of the journey with the people. Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? As a key region for Exterity globally Asia is somewhere we are continuing to invest in people to support our growth. Whilst our technology, hardware and software are the basis of our continued growth and successes service and support are essential to our culture and to the experience we give our partners and end users – our goals are always long term commitment and this can only be achieved with the right people.

SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT 63 Sony Professional Solutions

Quality AV drives player engagement


utting-edge and personalized audiovisual (AV) ecosystems in the gaming industry requires features that delivers the total experience. The right workflow can play an active part in keeping audience excited and engaged. The applications of AV equipment in gaming facilities, such as casino, are endless. In the fast-paced, 24/7 fully operational environment, operators require a hasslefree workflow that achieves engagement by commanding visitors’ attention through dynamic and immersive content. This is easily realized with Sony BRAVIA

Professional Displays, with its all-rounded digital solutions. Bringing together bright and beautiful 4K HDR image quality with easy operation, extensive integration options and low ownership costs, the Professional Display is packed with features that harness the power of visuals to inform, entice and entertain visitors. Gaming facilities offer more than just gambling as attractions. Visitors are also drawn to these vibrant hotspots for live entertainment. With Sony’s laser projectors, attaining one-of-a-kind immersive and interactive audience experience is an

effortless feat through projection mapping. Seamlessly integrating live content and tracking technology, video mapping allows for much greater creativity, producing immense impact that introduce endless opportunities for engagement. Further, with the inclusion of Sony’s professional camcorders and pan-tilt-zoom network cameras, gaming facilities are definitely well-equipped to deliver outstanding broadcast equivalent image quality. This allows them to realize their commercial vision - staying ahead with better looking images, expanded creative options and lower real-world costs. At this year’s ASEAN Gaming Summit 2019, Sony will showcase its comprehensive offering that pushes boundaries to achieve immersive experience and stay connected. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or join us at the booth to gain insights of our top-notch expertise that reiterate our commitment to customers’ timeless success.

IPC - Nino Valmonte, director - marketing & digital innovation

Fintec to boom


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? IPC saw double digit growth in revenues in 2018. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? IPC is focused on the Philippine market and was the very first major player in ICT services for the gaming sector.

What are your plans for 2019? IPC plans to further expand its products and services portfolio for the gaming sector, providing relevant cloud and data center services with the best security solutions available. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? IPC foresees a boom in fintech and is

ready to serve this market with the relevant solutions in cloud infrastructure, cybersecurity and connectivity. Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? IPC plans to continue expanding its presence into the region via its cloud services and global partnerships.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Vietnam, the Philippines power growth


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? We have the most innovative stadium developed with up to 18 games offering players the experience of multi-games and concurrent games, functionality combining gaming and entertainment. Additionally we have recently released a new gaming option called UC range of products designed with a high game rate per hour and allowing electromechanical ETG games to be played on an individual play terminal independently. Games available on the UC platform are Roulette 0 & 00, Craps/Sicbo, Baccarat Single Deck & Double Deck and Blackjack.

Limelight Networks - Jaheer Abbas, regional director, Southeast Asia and India

Sub-second streaming


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? In the past year, we’ve launched a new proprietary solution, Limelight Realtime Streaming, the industry’s first globally scalable, sub-second live video streaming solution. Leveraging the industry-standard Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) video format and our global edge network, the solution enables businesses to stream live video content, to and from anywhere in the world, in less than a second, providing online viewers with the same experience enjoyed by broadcast viewers, thus creating interactive live online experiences.

proxy servers closer to geo-locations of individual viewers. Given the pervasiveness of cyber-attacks in recent years, our security solutions are also highly in demand.

Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? We’re experiencing a great deal of demand from the gambling sector, which has a requirement of highly scalable and top-notch quality live content delivery. In particular, customers in these sectors are looking for a an integrated tool that will enable them to deliver high-performing content, as well as integrate ads, gather analytics, and ensure content security. This is where our Content Delivery Network (CDN) comes into play, as CDNs can address the issue of content latency, or the delay in loading of content, through web acceleration via

Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? We are looking to continue investing in the Asian region due to the vast opportunities it presents. A key component of this strategy includes enhancing our footprint in the region through marketing our new products, establishing mutually-beneficial collaborations with strategic partners in the industry, as well as expanding our regional team to meet the growing demand. Aside from this, we are also investing in research and development of our solutions and capabilities.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? Emerging markets such as the Philippines and Thailand continue to be promising markets for Limelight Networks. As these markets have kicked their digitalisation efforts into high gear, at both the government and corporate level, they present a great deal of untapped potential.

Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? We are rapidly growing in Vietnam and Philippines, both are the fastest gaming markets in Asia in recent years. What are your plans for 2019? We continue to strive for better products coupled with superior services and support 24/7 to all our valued customers. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? We believe the Philippines and Vietnam continue to outperform other regions with huge development opportunities Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? We are constantly assessing and expanding our team throughout the region in order to serve our customers better and making sure of 100 percent satisfaction in products and services are achieved.


Growth from new launches


hat has been the biggest development for your company this year? Our biggest development this year is our launch of MUSO & X-Station cabinets.

What are your plans for 2019? To expand the MUSO cabinet game library with more interesting titles, which we can anticipate in this coming G2E Asia 2019

Where are you experiencing most demand at the moment? For the MUSO Fu Lai Cai Lai link and X-Station Lucky Roulette.

Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? Macau will continue to lead the gaming market. However, we believe the most

promising -- Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia -- will come close within the next three years. Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? Yes, we are expanding our team steadily to meet the growth in demand across Asia.

Lotus Gaming

India gains ground


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? We have been more than fortunate as one of the earliest licensees in the Philippines. This made us put our best foot forward in establishing relationships with the very best in the field. Every year we have been continuously improving wide variety of options to offer our existing and future partners. This year we have launched new table game, our VIP Live LOTUS GAMING Hold’em and to top it off we have added valuable partners on our list. In line with this, we have established stronger presence in the market. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? Demands are always changing so we deal with these changes as fast as we can. Partners and gamers are currently coming from India, which has showed improved gaming market size since 2016. As much as possible, we are targeting mobile online players where smartphone users are more prominent with the projection of $1.1 Billion by 2020. Indian players have developed and are now seeking more thrilling gaming experience.

What are your plans for 2019? The regulatory sector in the Philippines is evolving same as us. To be competitive we have to be eligible to compete. This will make the market tighter more than ever. It can be challenging for stagnant companies which doesn’t evolve with time. Not us, we keep on changing and evolving as to keep up with the world’s demand for better gaming experience. We established offices in other countries and have plans to expand on other territories. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? Developing countries definitely. We have done some research, onsite inspection and have our sights set on Myanmar, Taiwan,

Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia. We also like to introduce our product in Indonesia where online casinos are extremely popular. Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? This year we are very proud to say that we are expanding our client based support. We are adding Thai and Viet teams to our existing Korean, English and Chinese based support. Our management and marketing team consists of dynamic and very talented individuals with more than 20 years’ experience in the world of gaming. We are adding more talent to this array of people that will ensure the stability of our company’s growth.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT 66 Novomatic – Lawrence Levy, VP global sales

New faces to lead growth


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? The recent decree in Vietnam that have permitted casino operations and introduced a pilot scheme allowing locals to gamble has resulted in major developments this past year. NOVOMATIC was selected as the premium technology partner of the new Corona Casino in Phu Quoc and installed around 200 NOVOMATIC and Ainsworth slot machines, as well as 125 electronic table games, our Absolute Vision media technology solution throughout the casino, and the Octavian myACP system to manage it all. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? In addition to the integrated resort projects in Vietnam, there is also demand for our solutions at smaller slot clubs throughout the country. Other countries, particularly the Philippines, Cambodia and Laos, are also moving toward contemporary regulatory models and showing a lot of potential. What are your plans for 2019? We have a strong pipeline of products this year, with a key focus on targeted games and

links. New Asian themes were introduced to the market at ICE and will be previewed for the region at the upcoming G2E Asia, such as Prized Panda, Dragon Hits and Asian Dragon hot. We look forward to bringing these games and our Asian developed portfolio to players throughout regulated Asian markets in 2019 and continuing our targeted approach toward the region. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? The distributor Indo Pacific Gaming recently came on board as a partner of NOVOMATIC to advance our position in Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Goa, Nepal and Vietnam – so we are looking at growth in these countries. We also have our long-standing distributor Jade Entertainment and Gaming Technology focusing on the Philippines, Malaysia, as well as Vietnam. Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? While we already have several ETG and systems installations in the region, Asia is still a relatively new market for us in terms

of slots. With our current Asian targeted portfolio, however, we feel more confident than ever before that we are ready to meet this growing demand head on. To lead this growth, Robert Dijkstra was appointed as VP of Business Development and Sales for Asia Pacific at the start of last year. He has recently brought on Sales Manager Michael Barsin for South East Asia.

of evil zombie samurai who rose from their graves as a result of a deadly virus. Appealing anime-style graphics tell the story. As for gameplay, Samurai Girl is fastpaced and action-packed, brimming with entertainment focused elements and features characteristic of Ganapati games. The game is highly volatile, with 25 paylines and Zombie Soul symbols which fill the Katana gauge a

little more every time they appear on the reels. When the Katana gauge is full and 3-5 Scatter symbols land on the reels, players are taken to the disturbing Boss Battle round where they are confronted with the evil Shogun himself and are tasked with defeating him. The Pandemic feature is another fun, interactive round where players have to touch the green virus in order to kill it.


Content expansion


upplier of Japanese content, Ganapati, is expanding its slots portfolio significantly this year by releasing three new titles in the first three months of the year. The brand-new games were shown off by the company at this year’s ICE, before going live shortly after. One of these new games, Samurai Girl, really embodies the new direction Ganapati is taking with its games this year. In a similar but less obvious way than flagship game Neo Tokyo, there is a cyberpunk undertone running through Samurai Girl which is quite compelling for players. Set in a grungy Shibuya – the iconic Tokyo district popular with fashionable youths, the reels fall against the bleak scenery of a deserted mall and an unrecognisably empty Shibuya crossing. In keeping with the game’s look and feel, the story follows a beautiful female warrior’s mission to rid Japan of an army

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT 67 IGT - Michael Cheers, director of sales, Asia

Asia product management staff doubles


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? The past year was marked with meaningful progress for IGT throughout Asia and across several of our product segments. For example, this year we successfully launched the CrystalCurve cabinet in Macau with the Fury Link and in the Philippines with Fortune Coin, as well as the Fury Link. Similarly, our IGT Dynasty Electronic Table Games (ETG) product was submitted to multiple regulating entities across the region and we are confident that we have unique hardware and content that will appeal to regional player preferences. We also have

more market-approved products than ever before, and provide our customers with greater product roadmap visibility than we have in the past. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? An area of strength across much of the company is our standalone games portfolio. This success can be attributed in part to our disciplined game development process, and our continued localisation efforts. In Asia, games such as Scarab, Dragons Sphere and Golden Egypt are some of the examples of this momentum. We are also experiencing strong

demand for our CrystalCurve cabinet with progressive linked games such as Fortune Fury, as well as standalone games such as Fortune Coin, Fortune Rooster, Cash Cove Monster Catch and Golden Egypt Grand. What are your plans for 2019? In 2019 we will continue our focus on delivering Asia-attuned content that can help our customers diversify and differentiate their slot floors. At G2E Asia we plan to debut a number of new links for Asia, and have several player-selectable multidenomination games in the pipeline for later this year. We also believe that we can add value to our customers by providing counsel on slot banking strategies that can help them maximise the performance of IGT content on their floors. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? For IGT, there is significant opportunity for growth in markets throughout Asia. We are striving to improve our floor share in Macau and widen our leading casino systems presence with innovative bonuses and content management solutions such as our M5 solution. Additionally, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia are very promising markets. We have established a commanding systems presence in all three of these markets, and we believe that we have a content strategy and solutions portfolio that can help our customers achieve growth in these markets. We’ve seen early signs of this momentum with games such as Scarab and Golden Egypt. Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? As an extension of our content localisation strategy, we are also focused on our people and services. For example, we’ve doubled the number of employees on our Asiafocused product management team, and closely aligned that team with our game design studios around the world to ensure that our content is localised for our Asiabased customers and their Players. We are also delivering a more consistent cycle of regulatory approvals for our products, and if you’ll remember back to G2E Asia, most of the product was market-approved.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Law firm of reference


ounded in 2007, DSL has grown consistently to become one of the top Macau reference law firms, acknowledged for professional excellence and problem solving in a practical and efficient manner. As a full service law firm, its clientele spreads through all industries, chiefly real estate, construction and infrastructure, aviation, banking, finance, insurance, high end retail, pharmaceuticals, IT & telecommunications and gaming, originating mostly from Hong

Kong, Macau, USA, Portugal, UK, China, Australia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Brazil. DSL is the exclusive member of World Services Group (WSG) and of the Portuguese speaking countries partnership led by PLMJ, a leading Portuguese law firm, reflecting DSL’s wide exposure to tier one international firms. Practice areas include Banking, Finance, Intellectual Property, Construction, Infrastructure, Gaming, Hospitality, Corporate, M&A, Real

Estate, Litigation, Arbitration, Employment, Tax, Telecommunications, IT, Media and China Investment Desk. DSL’s lawyers are ranked as leading practitioners by Chambers and Partners, IFLR and WTR, among other indices.

Alderney eGambling - CEO Susan O’Leary

India regulatory appetite growing


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this Year? We’ve continued to build our presence in the Asian market and I’ve personally spent a lot of time speaking at the key conferences and meeting with operators, advisers, and government officials. As a result, we continue to receive inquiries from incredibly innovative and ambitious businesses in the

region who are investigating how licensing with Alderney can elevate their position and assist them to grow globally. In 2018 we launched a Category 1 Associate Certificate, a B2C license which permits the licensee to be based anywhere in the world – we’re the only jurisdiction that can offer this kind of license and it is proving to be of particular interest to our Asian operators.

Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? We are speaking to businesses from across the region. The volatility in some Asian countries has led to some operators investigating options outside of their local territories. The Indian market is particularly interesting for us and I recently spoke at SPiCE in Goa where there was definitely the appetite for a more regulated gaming space. What are your plans for 2019? 2019 is another busy year for us and we’re already experiencing great enthusiasm and interest in what we do. Our globally facing business means that we are asked to speak and attend events and conferences around the world. 2019 kicked off with a bang for us at ICE London and we’re signed up for events across Asia, North America. Latin America, Europe, and Africa for the remainder of the year. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? The pre-regulated markets are really exciting space for us as countries embrace the true value of online gambling regulation. Asia, Africa, Latin America and even North America are offering up huge potential for those already established in the industry with markets that are both huge and dynamic. Our work is twofold: advising our existing licensees on entry strategies to work within these burgeoning markets, and working with lawmakers and governments to help ensure that the regulatory frameworks that are developed locally are well structured, appropriate and future-proofed.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Fishing for success


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? Jumbo successfully launched the world’s first GLI-certified and SAS compatible fishing game series, King of Fishing. We hope to innovate the gaming industry and bring in new players for land-based operators by introducing a communal, multiplayer fishing game concept that is already popular in arcade venues and online platforms around the world. Our fishing games, which are already running at casino floors in the Philippines and Cambodia, are gaining popularity and interest from more potential partners and casinos. And we’ve already been hearing positive feedback that our fishing games are successful in attracting new players and high-rollers.

Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? Jumbo is experiencing the most demand in South East Asia due to years of effort establishing strong relationships and providing top performing slots and ETG products in the region. Expansion plans of casino operators in Cambodia and growing demand of our fishing games in South East Asia are main drivers of growth for Jumbo in the region. What are your plans for 2019? For 2019, Jumbo will unveil many new products ranging from new jackpot links, slots games, fishing games, to our new 27-inch slot cabinet. Our new jackpot link Bao Ni Fa with games such as Power Mask and Power Dragon, will be launched during

this year’s G2E Macau on our latest Dual-27 slot cabinets. We are also aiming to launch another new jackpot link and a few more slot games by the end of the year. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? South East Asia is still the most promising market for us in the next few years because this region’s economy and infrastructure is still developing very rapidly. In addition, Vietnam just opened a casino that allows local players; and countries like Thailand and Myanmar may soon legalize gambling in the near future. With the opening of integrated casino resorts by 2025, Japan will be another big and important market in the gaming industry. Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? Jumbo is actively expanding our team and hiring new talent to develop more innovative and top performing products. In addition, our product and R&D managers will be traveling more frequently in Asia to receive the latest insights and trends from casino operators and players. We want our R&D team to be out of the office, so they can understand directly on what our customers are looking for and the changes needed to improve our products. outh America.

Jade Entertainment & Gaming

Historic casino opening


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? The biggest development for Jade in the past year was being selected as a service provider by Corona Casino in Phu Quoc. This was a historic opening as it is the first casino in Vietnam to allow nationals to enter. Jade Supplied the System from Novomatic as well as 35 percent of the machines and the Absolute Vision system also from Novomatic. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? Philippines remains our largest market, we are seeing existing properties refresh their floor and new projects in Cebu and Clark.

What are your plans for 2019? In 2019, Jade will expand its operations in Australia and California. In the Philippines, Jade will go live with retail sportsbetting under the Jade Sportsbet Brand. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? For the immediate future we see growth in Vietnam. Longer term, Japan will be the key market for Electronic Gaming. Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? Over the past year, Jade has expanded

into Malaysia and Vietnam. We would like to expand into Indochina, however the regulator conditions must improve first. Sirio Eureste has joined Jade as sales manager and David Campbell as sportsbook manager. We are currently recruiting in the areas of Digital Marketing and Digital Analysis. We see the future is in AI Sensors and 5G.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Adding innovative features


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? We are Asia-focused as a business, and so the continued and rapid growth in the region is tremendous for us. Additionally, the gaming industry as a whole has recognized that today, smart table games are an essential component of any pre-opening strategy and so we are benefiting from expansion in new as well as established markets. Now that smart table technology has been proven with large installations in multiple regional markets, we are seeing a huge uptick in the adoption of our flagship smart table products, Perfect Pay and Perfect Table, with many operators reaching out to us as an established and trusted supplier of RFID-enabled table games products. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? We are experiencing demand from operators across the region. There are new phases of growth in emerging markets as well as continuing strength in the Philippines. Macau continues to be a primary focus

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

for us. With the coming together of the growth of gaming across the region and table games automation as a critical part of casino operations planning, we are actively engaged in every Asian gaming market. What are your plans for 2019? Having played a leading role in the establishment of the smart table as a critical consideration on any gaming floor, in 2019, we are all about extending and expanding the footprint and capabilities of the platform and continuing to add innovative features that excite players and drive incremental revenues. We are offering our products over more game types and launching new player-specific content and game features. We will continue to be a value-added supplier in partnership with our casino customers. We are also honing in on mid-hand wagers, our Elite Bet offerings. The success of our first mid-hand wager in Malaysia, Baccarat Insurance, has exceeded our expectations with rapid player adoption and with the excitement it adds to the game. It has proven to be extremely popular with players across all casino segments.

Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? The adoption of our product platform and general growth across the region continues to create opportunities for us. We are entering a significant growth phase. We also establish strategic, long-term partnerships with our customers and so are equally focused on our existing customer base as we on new customers. Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? Our presence in Macau, where our main base of operations is located, is expanding. We are growing sales and support capabilities and have also recently added further executive bandwidth in Macau. The team continuously grows with our customer base. We already have sales and support coverage across the region, and it is increasing both through significant growth in our Macau entity as well as network partners in the area. Recently, we established a business entity in Australia where we have also expanded our manufacturing capability.

SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT 71 RGB - Datuk Chuah, Managing Director, RGB

Technical support booms


hat has been your biggest development for your company in Asia this year? Our biggest development this year would be in our Technical Support Management (TSM) division. Currently the TSM division holds concession rights in 32 casinos and gaming clubs across Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Timor Leste and Nepal, managing approximately 5,500 machines. We expect the TSM concession to increase to approximately 38, with an additional of approximately 1,900 new gaming machines in both existing and new concession outlets to be managed by us this year.

concession machines through the existing and new concessions in TSM division.

Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? At present, it will be the Philippines where we continue to see a rapid growth in the gambling industry.

Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your teams, or management, to take advantage of the market opportunities? Yes, we are expanding our teams and sales and services offices in the region of Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia in order to cater for the rapid growth of the casinos and gaming clubs’ in these regions. We have recently established a new sales and services office in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, our third office in Cambodia, and are looking to establish new sales and services offices in Cebu and Clark in Philippines, and Hanoi in Vietnam.

What are your plans in 2019? As a regional player, our plan in 2019 is to continue working together with our renowned partners (i.e. Scientific Games, Aristocrat and etc.) to continue capitalizing on the strong performance of new and existing products in the region that we have operated, and to increase the number of

Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? In the near future, we foresee countries with monopoly right and those that permit locals to participate, like the Philippines and Vietnam, as having the most opportunity to grow at a faster rate. On top of that, with the recent influx of Chinese investment in Cambodia, as well as the increase in tourism, we expect that Cambodia will also be one of the promising markets in the coming years.

Transact Technologies

Openings boost demand


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? We are delighted to say that 2018 was an extremely eventful year for TransAct in Asia with several major developments that added to our already significant footprint in the region. The opening of Corona Resort & Casino in Phu Quoc Vietnam was noteworthy as they chose to go exclusively with our market leading Epic 950 printers as their ticket-in/ ticket-out (TITO) printer solution in all their slots and ETGs. Additionally, they chose Epic 950 printers with enclosures throughout their cage areas and the Epic 880 for receipt printing in all their kiosks. We experienced a strong uptake in Epic 950 sales overall in Asia driven by continued competitive market share wins, increase in electronic bingo game placements using Epic 950, and on-going customer game replacements and floor refreshes. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? We are continuing to grow our presence in Asia, most recently with Macau driving a strong demand as the majority of the operators in the region continue to update their floors with the newest games, including their choice of the Epic 950 TITO printer. The Philippines remains a rising market for TransAct as we break into new accounts and grow our market share in the country in both casino and non-casino markets. What are your plans for 2019? 2019 offers the opportunity to maintain our strong current business relationships with casinos, manufacturers, and systems companies. We will work both directly and through our distributors in the regions, working closely with our partners on new opportunities for Epicentral and the rollout of Epic Edge. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? Vietnam and the Philippines are exciting regions where our ongoing market presence, service and support continue to drive more customers to TransAct. TransAct is participating in new ticket-in, ticket-out opportunities in Australia including Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Finally, Macau remains a compelling market for both hardware and system sales.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Zitro - Nadège Teyssedre, sales director, EMEA

Video slots gain traction


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this year? It is now a little over two years ago when Zitro started a transformation process with the goal to take the company from being the world leader in Video Bingo, to a leading global supplier for the gaming industry, by including in its product portfolio the video slots brand Bryke. Today, we can proudly state that Bryke is now part of the must-have slot brands in the global casino landscape. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? In Asia, our biggest demand has come until now from the Video Bingo operators in the Philippines, but this year, thanks to Bryke, we are expanding our presence in the casinos of the region. What are your plans for 2019? We have two main goals. The first is to increase our market share in the Filipino Video Bingo market with the launch of the sensational Energy Link game. This game provides a complete new form of playing traditional Video Bingo, providing the player with a cleaner and userfriendly display and a lot more chances to win thanks to its enhanced game mechanics, as well

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

as a super exciting Bonus that will increase the winning possibilities even further. The second is to place Bryke units in Asian casinos, starting with Link King. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? We will keep placing important efforts in growing our presence in the Philippines even further, and we will and we will also start to explore other Asian countries with our Bryke Video Slots product line. Are you making any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? At the beginning of last year, we decided to start targeting the market directly and created our own commercial and technical infrastructure in Manila. With that in place we can now start expanding also into other markets in the region. Recently Rodney Hall has joined our team as leader for the commercial efforts in the region. Reporting directly to me, Rodney has very extensive experience in the gaming industry and is the perfect addition to our Asian team which will help take Zitro to the next level.

Expanding teams and budgets


hat has been the biggest development for your company in Asia this

year? Getting to know business partners, as well as insights to what we need to change with our product. Where are you experiencing the most demand at present? For a foreign brand and company Trust is the one main thing I would say. What are your plans for 2019? Look into other markets and expand the Asia efforts as a company. Which do you see being the most promising markets in the next few years? People talk about South East Asia and India and I agree that those markets are very interesting. Are you mak ing any changes in Asia, either expanding your team, or management, to take advantage of market opportunities? We are expanding our team here in Asia as well as resources and budgets.




iGaming Asia Congress 12-14 March 2019 Macau ASEAN Gaming Summit 19-21 March 2019 Conrad Hotel, Manila Affiliate Grand Slam Manila 21-22 March 2019 Betting on Football 19-22 March 2019 Stamford Bridge, London

Betting on Sports America 23-25 April 2019 New York

MAY Japan Gaming Congress 16-17 May 2019 Conrad Hotel, Tokyo G2E Asia 21-23 May 2019 The Venetian, Macau

JULY World Gaming Executive Summit 2-4 July 2019 W Hotel, Barcelona Affiliate Conference & Expo (ACE) Manila 8-9 July 2019 Solaire Resort & Casino, Manila

AUGUST Australian Gaming Expo 13-15 August 2019 International Convention Center, Sydney

JUNE Russian Gaming Week 6-7 June 2019 Moscow

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Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019


Going green Sharon Singleton

Managing Editor, AGB

While President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to close down Boracay to tourism for an environmental cleanup may have seemed draconian, it’s perhaps something that integrated resort operators around Asia should take note of.


here’s no getting away from the fact that build, and opening of the 160-acre 20 MW Wynn large-scale tourism projects, even the best Solar Facility in the U.S. While MGM Resorts has its Green Advantage managed, can have a detrimental impact on the environment, putting pressure on plan, which has helped to reduce carbon emissions water resources and generating large amounts of by more than 60,000 metric tons of CO2e since 2010. This is the equivalent of taking more than 12,000 waste, much of it plastic. The rampant expansion of casino resorts in cars off the road for a year. In New Zealand and Australia, IR operators have Sihanoukville in Cambodia is already generating headlines for all the wrong reasons, with reports the also been proactive, with SkyCity Entertainment newly opened Jin Ding Hotel & Casino on a nearby announcing a green fund in February and plans to island is flushing raw sewage directly into the sea, become carbon neutral in its home country this year and Australia the next. polluting one of the area’s most scenic beaches. As operators vye for a coveted If operators don’t get serious casino license in Japan, a focus about stepping up their efforts on environmental protection to protect the environments and sustainability has also they are operating in there is Many of the featured as a key selling point a real danger that governments larger global for many of the bidders. will wade in with their own, players are already Melco Resorts & Enterpotentially costly, measures tainment, which is building to force companies to clean ahead of the curve, the biggest solar power array up the mess. recognising that in Macau, has said solar and Many of the larger global wind energ y will feature players are already ahead of green initiatives prominently if it’s successful the curve, recognising that can also be good in its bid for an IR in Osaka. green initiatives can also be According to the plans, the good for business. for business. walls of the IR will be glass-like Sands China in February solar energy panels upon which announced it was banning video images can be displayed. shark fin in all its restaurants in Macau as part of its parent company’s Sands Wind power facilities will also be included in the City of the Future design. ECO360 strategy. Caesars Entertainment also highlights its The plan is designed to promote responsible business operations in the areas of green buildings, environmental track record in its vision for Japan. environmentally responsible operations, green It is one of only 30 companies to achieve Triple-A meetings and events, and stakeholder engagement scores in three rankings by the international Carbon Disclosure Project. and outreach. Let’s hope that some of these major initiatives Wynn Resorts last year appointed Erik Hansen as its first chief sustainability officer. Hansen will be taken by global players begin to have a trickle down responsible for the development of the company’s global effect to some of the region’s other fast-developing sustainability strategy and energy procurement goals. markets. If not, we could see other governments take He has already been involved in helping Wynn with Duterte-style measures to ensure the sustainability several large-scale projects, such as the negotiation, of their tourism industries.

Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2019

Profile for Asia Gaming Brief

Agbriefings March-ASEAN 2019  

AGB brings you extensive coverage across all types of gaming, across 22 Asia jurisdictions. The ASEAN Edition will be released alongside the...

Agbriefings March-ASEAN 2019  

AGB brings you extensive coverage across all types of gaming, across 22 Asia jurisdictions. The ASEAN Edition will be released alongside the...

Profile for agbrief