JURISDICTION UPDATES March 2016 Edition
An “omni-channel” revolution is coming pg.32
Putting on the Ritz for Asia’s gamblers pg.30
Junkets look to charm amid image scandals pg.09
In-play debate rages on as industry awaits review pg.29
Beijing’s proposal for the development of the Asian gaming industry
ONE BELT, ONE ROAD TO JOIN THEM ALL pg.06
iGA SPECIAL SUPPLIER REPORT pg.44
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s Asian industry stakeholders strive to adapt
begin to pay dividends and shares show promise.
to the new realities of the market, where the
In south east Asia, Genting redoubles its investment in
Chinese VIP is the most elusive of patrons -
Malaysia but faces headwinds and loses market share in
either through stronger tourism incentives
or non gaming offerings - AGB looks at the other side
Moving north, investor interest wanes in South Korea
of the coin for its cover story. While Beijing’s anti-
while in Russia a tax hike proposal sparks industry
corruption drive has often been blamed as a primary
factor behind the slump in Macau’s gaming revenue,
Coming to Indochina, we look at jurisdictions such as
the same regime is also responsible for proposing and
Cambodia which is drafting new framework aimed at
supporting another initiative that may have widespread
attracting foreign investment and boosting tourism
implications for the development of the Asian gaming
amid an increasingly crowded Asian casino market.
industry - the “One Belt and One Road” project. We
Meanwhile, despite not having yet regulated in the
present you with an overview of the project and the
space, Macau is gearing up to once again play host
diverse opportunities it presents.
to the interactive global online gaming community.
Another special feature we provide in this issue is an
From March 19 to 21 the iGaming Asia Congress brings
exclusive interview with Roger Marris, chief executive
together operators, regulators and suppliers to discuss
officer of the Ritz Club. In a candid conversation with
what the future will hold for the industry.
AGB’s managing directors, Marris elaborates on the
We dedicate the focus of this Spring edition of
radical change he brought about to the casino of the
AGBriefings to interactive gaming where we lift the veil
legendary Ritz Hotel and how the operational focus in
of the omni channel revolution coming to Asia and look
now on attracting the most distinguished of customers
into how technology is shaping trends in the wagering
As customary, we bring you the relevant updates
If you would like to book a meeting with AGB at the
across the Asian jurisdictions in this Spring edition of
event, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by our
booth at the exhibition hall. We look forward to seeing
In Macau, we look at how junkets, faced with a fight
for survival from a permanently impaired mainland VIP market are taking action to polish their image.
Asia Gaming Brief
Across the waters, the HKJC feels the fallout from the economic slowdown in China that has rattled stock markets around the globe. Amid the doom and gloom across the markets we report on how Bloomberry is a shining star as its investments
Asia Gaming Brief On behalf of Asia Gaming Brief Rosalind Wade & Luis Pereira PUBLISHERS
www.agbrief.com MARCH 2016 EDITION SERIES II • ISSUE XII
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Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
SOUTH EAST ASIA
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT
“One-belt one-road” to help drive casino growth While Beijing’s anti-corruption drive has often been blamed as a primary factor behind the slump in Macau’s gaming revenue, the same regime is also responsible for proposing and supporting another initiative that may have widespread implications for the development of the Asian gaming industry -- the “One Belt and One Road” project.
uring a state visit to Kazakhstan on September 7th 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping, proposed that China and the Central Asian countries build an “Economic Belt” along the historic Silk Road, a trans-Eurasian project from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea. One month later, in a speech to the Indonesian Parliament, Xi proposed a “21st-century Maritime Silk Road.” Now known as “One Belt and One Road,” the initiative has become one of China’s keystone state development strategies focusing on connectivity and cooperation. The goal is to realize the massive trade potential and boost economic development among countries through Central Asia to the Middle East, as well as those along the maritime route through Southeast Asia, the Persian Gulf, and the Horn of Africa. At a
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
more individual level, the initiative is also an integral part of Xi’s blueprint for China’s “great rejuvenation” in the new century. One of the initiative’s priorities is to enhance cooperation in and expand the scale of tourism. As witnessed globally, the gaming industry has boosted tourism, by acting as a key marketing attraction, offering world class entertainment features, and enhancing the quality of hospitality services. The availability of gaming facilities has not only fueled the rapid expansion of tourism, but has also greatly benefited the gaming industry itself via infrastructure improvements such as higher airlift capacity and better road access. Countries along the Belt and Road have their own resource advantages with unique natural, cultural, and ethnic elements. When these elements are offered together with gaming and
GREATER CHINA 7
leisure facilities, they will provide an exotic attraction catering to today’s Asian (and global) middle-class travelers, especially the rapidly growing outbound Chinese tourists. What is more important is the fact that growth in either sector leads to more growth in other sectors via additional jobs, incremental foreign investment, higher tax revenue and increased trade volumes. As casinos and gaming are legalized in more countries along the routes, it bodes well for expansion of the tourism sector and more gaming establishments. The initiative also prioritizes transport infrastructure construction and improvement projects, which we believe will benefit the gaming industry in the long term. Improvements such as massive ground transportation networks (including China’s signature highspeed railways), coordinated connectivity of customs clearance, and comprehensive civil aviation cooperation are going to resolve (or at least alleviate) many bottleneck issues for existing and prospective casino properties. On the guest’s end, this would mean less time on the road, translating to longer stays and higher frequency of visits. Furthermore, China’s direct investments, from both private and government sectors, in areas such as agriculture, forestry, fishery, energy, information technology, machinery manufacturing, ocean engineering, and marine bio-pharmacy, are expected to establish a sizeable and consistent volume of business travelers through the economic corridors. These business activities are going to generate a substantial demand for conferences and exhibitions.
GROSS GAMING REVENUE Lottery sales Y15 RMB 367.9b
Sports Lottery RMB166.4b
Welfare Lottery RMB201.5b
David Rittvo, Executive Vice President of International for The Innovation Group, is leading a team to expand the company’s presence on an international level, with focus on the Asian Region. Since joining the group in 2009, he has worked on feasibility studies, market assessments, financial pro forma projections and master planning for multiple clients in Vietnam, The Philippines, Sri Lanka, Macau, Australia, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
As Vice President, International, Michael Zhu is in charge of a diverse set of project initiatives for The Innovation Group, including feasibility studies, market assessment, business analysis, and operational optimization. His main focus is on integrated resort development and operations in the Asia-Pacific and Europe markets.
China Vanguard revenue falls China Vanguard said its revenue fell 68.5 percent in the six months to endDecember due to a slowdown in lottery sales in China and no contribution from its property-related businesses. However, it remains optimistic about future prospects. “The group is of the view that the slower growth is only temporary to the extent that it shall foster a key opportunity for the group to tap into potential collaborations between industry players, and shall enable the group to take advantage of potential acquisition or expansion opportunities should they present themselves.”
Chinese mainlanders spend more Despite the slowdown in China’s economy, mainlanders spent at least 312 billion yuan (US$48 billion) during the Lunar New Year period, 31 percent more than during last year’s holidays, according to China UnionPay Co.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
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In light of the initiative, a cursory review of what the Asian gaming stakeholders have been doing in the past year or two reveals some pioneering progress along the Belt and the Road. In Russia, other than the Tigre de Cristal Resort by Lawrence Ho’s Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd and the on-going construction of a casino resort by NagaCorp Ltd in the Primorye Integrated Entertainment Zone (IEZ) near Vladivostok in the Far East region, the approved establishment of gambling zones in Crimea and Sochi remains on the radar of numerous gaming companies. The Innovation Group has completed several market assessment and feasibility studies for IR development projects in the region in recent years. In Almaty, Kazakhstan, where the Chinese government has funded construction of a new international airport, the Tengri Resort is being developed and will contain hotels, residences, casinos, other leisure amenities, and even educational and medical facilities. The resort development is expected to have the involvement of several Asian gaming stakeholders. As the Belt reaches into Europe, Asiabased gaming companies are beginning to position themselves accordingly. In July 2015, Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd acquired an equity position in the casino firm Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) that operates four casinos and several hotel properties in the Monaco principality, including Casino de
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
AS CASINOS AND GAMING ARE LEGALIZED IN MORE COUNTRIES ALONG THE ROUTES, IT BODES WELL FOR EXPANSION OF THE TOURISM SECTOR AND MORE GAMING ESTABLISHMENTS
Monte-Carlo. Hong Kong-listed Landing International Development Ltd has recently inked a deal to acquire a company controlling the upscale Les Ambassadeurs Club and Casino in London to expand and diversify its gaming operations. These opportunities should allow the Asian gaming companies to capitalize on the patronage and reach of over 1,000 casinos in the European Casino Association. Although many of them are very small by comparison to their counterparts in Asia, they are in locations and settings that are ideal for creating unique and exotic experiences which are critical to attract some of the 100 million tourists currently travelling from China.
Along the Road, we have observed even more vivid market dynamics. The Innovation Group’s list of recent development feasibility projects covers such countries as Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka, with a high level of variety both in project type and in scope. In early December 2015, a media outlet in Cyprus identified two Asian gaming companies, namely NagaCorp Ltd and Bloomberry Resorts Corp, as submitting a full proposal for a single available gaming license. In June 2014, a plan for an integrated resort invested by Chinese conglomerate Fosun International, along with partners from Greece and Abu Dhabi, was approved by the Greek government. While in light of Kerzner International’s extensive relationships with Chinese business partners, it probably would not be surprising to see more Asian gaming developers and promoters in South Africa. Even for Macau, with a natural bridge between China and Portugal, the cross-region cooperation initiatives are expected to help the tourism sector flourish. We believe the “One Belt, One Road” initiative will help the Asian gaming industry to further expand the supply of leisure and entertainment facilities in the region. The Innovation Group has been closely watching the markets and we believe these developments have the potential to re-establish the norms and reshape the gaming industry, both in the region and globally.
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Junkets on charm offensive after scandals, VIP slump Analysts say the junket system of old may be irreparably broken with the mainland VIP market permanently impaired. Faced with a fight for survival, the junkets are taking action to polish their image.
acau’s VIP operators have recently embarked on a public relations push following a series of scandals involving promoters and ongoing concern about lack of transparency in the market. VIP revenue in Macau slumped almost 40 percent in 2015 as Beijing’s ongoing drive against corruption forced high rollers to retain a low profile. From making up more than two thirds of revenue at the market’s $45 billion height, analysts reckon Macau GGR was split 50/50 last year with the mass sector predicted to continue to expand. The number of junkets has also tumbled 23 percent since Jan. 2015, from 183 to 141, according to data from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ). Most market observers expect that number to fall further amidst rising bad debts and shrinking liquidity. In February, Cali Group reportedly closed two of its four VIP rooms in Macau in order to shift resources to the Philippines. The company shut rooms at the Grand Lisboa and the City of Dreams on January 31. Insiders say it’s difficult to estimate the level of debts currently owed in the junket system, due to the multi-tiered marketing system employed by the companies. But they expect further defaults as agents are unable to recoup money owed and pay their investors the promised return. That payback was as high as 2.5 percent a month in
the case of Huang Shan, who disappeared in 2014 leaving debts estimated to be as high as $1.3 billion. Though the average return is about 1.5 percent to 2 percent. Kwok Chi Chung, the head of Macau’s Association of Gaming & Entertainment Promoters, told Bloomberg recently that junkets were currently collecting only around 20 percent to 30 percent of their high-roller loans. Tony Tong, co founder of debt-collection and risk management firm Pacific Financial Services said he had been predicting a “domino effect” among the junket operations. He says there have been many more cases of disappearances than those that have hit the headlines, where the amounts are smaller and have not been reported. However, Tong said that, with the avalanche of bad news, the positive contribution the junkets have made to Macau has been overlooked. The system, which has been viewed as shady by western regulators, was a necessary part and parcel of attracting and financing mainland VIPs wanting to gamble in Macau. “For the past five years to 10 years they have contributed huge amounts of revenue to Macau to the casinos and to the SAR government in terms of GGR tax,” he said. “The government gets paid when the customer loses, the government gets their 40 percent, the casino gets their 20 or 10 depending on which one. In other words, they have already contributed to the government and the concessionaires but they are the last to
get paid if they ever get paid.” To try to dispel some of the more negative impressions about the industry and to improve transparency, a new association has been formed. The Macau Gaming Information Association (MGIA), led by Charlie Choi Kei Ian and Antonio Hoo, with Tong as vice chairman, is launching a new app that will provide daily information about the industry. The Association, which held its inauguration ceremony earlier this year, said it fully supports more government regulation of the sector, under new DICJ head Paulo Martins Chan. “In the short run this may be painful for the junkets to adjust but in the long run I think it’s better for the government to take on more actions and to make it more transparent,” Tong said. “The problem with Dore and other disappearances is a lack of transparency. The directors and the true shareholders are often not listed and most of the VIP gaming promoters in Macau have one person declared as one person limited liability, and often this one person who is licensed under the DICJ may not be the real investor, shareholder and director, so to promote transparency I think is becoming more important.” He said down the road he expects the DICJ to gradually raise the bar in terms of the requirements relating to financial officers; background due diligence; investor background and regular inspection of financial accounts. Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
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But he also stressed there needs to be greater protection for investors and junkets too, especially when it comes to recouping debts, even in Macau. “The junkets are using their personal money to facilitate credit to the players and oftentimes they have problems in terms of collection because often there is a very complicated process for them to collect through the legal way.” He cited the case of one creditor who had to wait for two years to get a judgement through the Macau courts and a month before that judgement, the mainland debtor sold his Macau-based property and ran away. “The creditors are very angry because they tried to play by the rules and they got a judgement but not the money.” Zheng Zhang, the operator of Macau’s first VIP slot club, agrees that the contribution made by junkets to the territory’s gaming industry is often not fully recognized, though he reckons that confidence could quickly rebound. “There is a lack of comforting policies from the government and lack of recognition of their identity and working status - they are treated like any other tourists. There’s no appreciation of their contribution to tax and revenue,” he says. “With just a little bit of positive policy, confidence will quickly rebound.” However, few share his optimism and few analysts expect the Macau VIP market to fully recover. Thought that doesn’t mean the death of the junket system, as some doomsayers have predicted. “If you look at overall outbound tourism from China it’s still increasing and that’s good news,” Tong says. “There’s still a lot of hidden wealth, a huge shadow economy and there are a lot of wealthy people who have saved up money
Shuttle bus services to be reduced A Macau consultative committee has urged the government to further persuade operators to reduce the number of free shuttle bus services in order to free up the roads and develop public transportation. The government has asked casinos to reduce the number of shuttle bus services for their patrons from 80 to around 60, and wants to reduce the number further, to around 50.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
over the past 10 years but coming to Macau may get them on the target list, so many have chosen to go elsewhere, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Australia, London, they are everywhere.” Many of these alternative destinations are also offering much higher commission levels to the capped 1.25 percent rate in Macau, with Australia paying 1.6 percent and higher, the Philippines, Vietnam and Naga all offering 1.8 percent and higher.
SJM HOLDINGS (880:HK) Has 20 casinos. Its $3.2 billion Palazzo Versace development is scheduled to come online in 2017. Mass market property the Jal Alai is scheduled for a mid-2016 opening with 130 rooms and 45 gaming tables. The company is currently building The Grand Lisboa Palace on Cotai, which is also scheduled for completion in 2017, with the topping off of the superstructure scheduled for mid 2016. The casino plans are for 700 gaming tables and over 1,200 slot machines across a gaming floor area of approximately 27,000 square metres. It will feature a Palazzo Versace hotel and a Karl Lagerfeld Hotel. The total production cost is estimated at about HKD$30 billion ($3.8 billion), although the company has expressed concern over costs. The company is in talks with lenders for a $3.2 billion loan to finance its new Cotai project. For Q4, net revenue was HK$11 billion, down 35 percent and adjusted EBITDA fell 45 percent, which Bernstein Research said was in line with its forecasts. Bernstein adds: “SJM will continue to trade at a valuation discount to its peers due to its
over reliance on VIP and satellite business, conflicts of interest, complicated shareholder structure and governance concerns.”
MELCO CROWN ENTERTAINMENT (6883.HK) Has three casinos. The company’s $3.2 billion Studio City opened on October 27, 2015, with an allocation of 250 tables, short of the 400 requested. All tables were allocated to the mass sector, a first in Macau. The resort features a 5,000-seat multi-purpose theatre, a permanent magic show, jungle-themed river rides, Asia’s highest Ferris wheel and a Batman simulated ride. Melco says the resort will be made up of 95 percent non-gaming components. The company has said it may buy out its minority partner in the Studio City project. For Q4, the net loss attributable to Melco Crown was $12.3 million, or $0.02 per ADS, compared with net income of $92.9 million, or $0.17 per ADS, in the fourth quarter of 2014. Adjusted net income was $46.7 million, or $0.09 per ADS, compared with adjusted net income of $123.3 million, or $0.23 per ADS, in the fourth quarter of 2014. Analysts had been expecting a profit of $0.06 per ADS. Net revenue fell 6% to $1.06 billion, in line with estimates for $1.07 billion. The company said its new Studio City property in Macau, which started operations on October 27, generated revenue of $123.2 million. Studio City generated adjusted EBITDA of $12.6 million in the fourth quarter. UBS analysts say the result is a “satisfactory” start, but the property will need to ramp up from here to meet its expectations.
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L’Arc probed for embezzlement, again
WYNN MACAU (1128:HK) Has one casino, while its $4 billion Wynn Palace is under development. The company has pushed back the opening date to June 25 this year, from its originally scheduled March opening. It will have 1,700 hotel rooms and 90 percent of the resort will be non-gaming. The company said the resort will feature a performance lake, casino, spa, retail and other outlets. It is aiming for about 500 table games. The company sent a letter to the contractor of the resort in late January warning of potential penalties under its contract if construction milestones aren’t met. The company has said that the total potential liability for delay damages may be as much as $200 million should the contractor fail to achieve “substantial” completion by the June deadline. In Q4, Wynn reported revenue dropped to $946.9 million from $1.1 billion a year earlier, dragged down by a 27 percent decline in its Macau operations to $555.7 million. Macau operations reported a 43.7 percent decrease in EBITDA to $708.6 million. VIP table games turnover in Macau fell 36.9 percent to $13 billion. The average number of VIP tables decreased to 192 units from 244 units in the quarter. Table drop in the mass market segment was $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015, down 10.9 percent from the 2014 fourth quarter.
GROSS GAMING REVENUE GGR Y16E -13% Y17E +0% Y18E +3% (Source: Macquarie)
GGR Y16E -5.9%
(Source: Morgan Stanley)
Direct gaming taxes Y15 MOP84.4 billion
Macau authorities are investigating a second case of alleged embezzlement, this time involving HK$1 million (US$128,600) from L’Arc Macau’s VIP gaming room. In January, a senior staff member was investigated for a case involving funds worth HK$99.7 million.
SANDS CHINA (1928:HK) Has four casinos. The company says its new $3 billion The Parisian property is still scheduled to open in the third quarter, although the company was recently granted an additional seven months to complete the resort. The Parisian Macao will feature 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. An air-conditioned walkover bridge with moving sidewalks is also planned, which will connect Parisian Macao to Sands Cotai Central In Q4, net revenue decreased 16.2 percent to $2.86 billion, compared to $3.42 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014, missing the consensus forecast for $2.9 billion. Consolidated adjusted property EBITDA of $1.05 billion decreased 21.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to the yearago quarter. Adjusted net income decreased to $492.4 million, or $0.62 per diluted share, compared to $734.2 million, or $0.92 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2014. That misses the consensus estimate of $0.64. At Sands China, net revenues decreased 21.7 percent to $1.66 billion, while net income dropped 29.3 percent to $378.4 million.
MGM CHINA (2282:HK) Is operating a single casino in the peninsula. The opening for its new $2.9 billion development, the MGM Cotai, has been pushed back from late 2016 to the first quarter of 2017 because of soft market conditions and the timing of other new openings. For Q4,15, the company had a loss of $781.4 million, or $1.38 per share, including a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of $1.33 per share, compared to a loss of $342.2 million, $0.70 in the
prior year fourth quarter. Without the charge, the loss would have been $0.05, missing the $0.09 profit analysts had forecast. Total revenue was $2.37 billion, down from $2.58 billion a year earlier. MGM China earned net revenue of $499 million, a 31 percent decrease compared to the prior year quarter. Adjusted EBITDA was $131 million, down 29 percent, but beat the consensus for $124 million. Mass table revenues were down 14 percent and VIP volumes were down 57 percent.
GALAXY ENTERTAINMENT GROUP (27.HK) Has three main properties and runs three City Club casinos inside hotels. The company’s new Galaxy Macau Phase 2 and Broadway at Galaxy Macau opened on May 27 2015, almost doubling the capacity of the resort. The group was recently granted an extra 100 tables, adding to the original allocation of 150 tables. That’s still far short of the 400 it had requested, but brings it in line with the table award given to Melco Crown Entertainment’s Studio City. Galaxy outperformed its peers in Q4. Gross gaming revenue was HK$11.9 billion, up 9 percent quarter on quarter and down 20 percent year on year. Market wide GGR was up 1 percent quarter on quarter and down 27 percent compared to the prior year. Its VIP GGR gained 9 percent, compared with 2 percent for the market and mass was up 6 percent versus flat for the market. A court in Macau recently dismissed casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd’s claim to exemption from MOP2.57 million (about US$321,250) in taxes. The government sent Galaxy Entertainment a bill for that amount for tourism tax on sales of various sorts of goods and services by its StarWorld Hotel. Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
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China’s economic woes to rein in HKJC turnover Hong Kong’s world-famous jockey club is feeling the fallout from the economic slowdown in China that has rattled stock markets around the globe.
ower mainland growth, which is also taking its toll on the economy of neighbouring Hong Kong, is likely to rein in racing turnover at the jockey club this year. According to CEO Winfried EngelbrechtBresges, racing turnover may be down by about 3 to 5 percent. However, he says the full impact won’t be felt for another six to nine months. It would be the first downturn in racing turnover in about a decade for the club, which posted turnover last year of HK$105.41 billion, up 1.4 percent on 2013/14 (or HK$107.93 billion, up 5.8 percent for the full racing season) and the second time the Club has exceeded the HK$100 billion mark. The net margin, at HK$4.41 billion for the financial year was 0.3 percent down on 2013/14 (HK$4.51 billion for the full racing season, up 3.9 percent). Gross domestic product growth in China slowed to 6.9 percent in 2015, the weakest pace in a quarter of a century and economists expect a further cooling this year. Ongoing concern about weaker-than-expected economic data has triggered a global stock market rout since January. The correlation between HKJC revenue and equity market performance has long been noted, with some pundits even referring to the betting numbers from the club as being a new “Big Mac Index,” referring to famous index created by The Economist that measures a country’s economic strength by the comparative cost of a hamburger. Despite the predicted slowdown, EngelbrechtBresges stressed the club will continue with its charity efforts. “The club will continue to monitor the situation closely,” it said in a statement, “[Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges] emphasises that the club will continue to help address social needs, especially in times of difficulty.”
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
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The HKJC was recently listed 6th in the World Charity Index 2015 for its charitable contributions, marking the first time an Asian organization has made it into the top 10. HKJC officials have also been increasingly vocal of late about the rise of illegal gambling across Asia and its impact on corruption in sports. The club estimates that illegal betting on Hong Kong racing adds up to about US$12.8 billion, nearly matching legal turnover last year. It claims a major hub for the illegal betting activity is the Philippines. Martin Purbrick, the club’s integrity chief told a recent racing conference in India that 70 to 80 percent of the illegal market is in Asia. “The growth of illegal betting in Asia has led to global expansion of the operators, the consequent spread of criminal involvement in racing and other sports betting markets,
as well as being a driver for other criminal problems such as sports corruption and money laundering.” He told the Asian Racing Conference that findings of one study show that one illegal site in the Philippines is estimated to handle the equivalent of eight percent of the turnover of the Australian horse racing betting market, while estimating their total turnover on Hong Kong racing was equivalent to nearly 57 percent of the legal market. Australian media has also reported of a secret submission by the club to the government, which is currently reviewing online regulation. The submission, Illegal Betting Markets and Links with Organised Crime, warns of criminal and triad involvement in offshore Asian bookmaking operations, which are accounting for a growing share of betting turnover in the region.
GROSS GAMING REVENUE
Genting HK expects profit not less than US$2 billion
HKJC Horse racing turnover HKD 107.9b ($13.9b)
Football betting HKD 78.2b
Mark 6 lottery HKD 7.8b
GGR Y16E -3% to -5%
Genting Hong Kong says it expects to record a net profit of not less than US$2 billion for the year ended Dec. 31, 2015, largely as a result of one-time items, but warned operating results will deteriorate due to tough conditions in Asia’s gaming industry. The company posted profit of about US$331.7 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 2014.
IKG rolling chip turnover down 59 percent VIP room operator Iao Kun Group Holding says rolling chip turnover for the month of January was US$330 million, down 59 percent year on year, according to a recent filing. For 2015 as a whole, turnover plummeted 61 percent to US$6.42 billion.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
SOUTH EAST ASIA
Universities call for crackdown as student gambling rises
Thailand’s official ban on gambling masks a huge appetite for betting, with recent studies throwing the spotlight on problem gambling amongst the nation’s youth.
hai universities are increasingly concerned about the growing trend of students addicted to gambling and borrowing money from state education loans to support their gaming habits. University academics are urging officials to tackle the issue, especially student access to online websites through smartphones, calling on cellphone operators to block gambling websites. Gambling is illegal in Thailand apart from through the state-run lottery and on horse racing through the Royal Bangkok Turf Club. However, betting remains highly popular, with the underground market estimated to dwarf that of legal channels. To gauge the extent of the problem, several universities have recently undertaken surveys of student gaming habits, including Bangkok-based Ramkhamhaeng University and Dhurakij Pundit University. The findings of widespread gambling practices among the nation’s youth is likely to make it even more difficult for those pushing for greater liberalization.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
Dhurakij Pundit University Peace Centre lecturer Atichat Tancharoen, told local media online detection of gambling-addicted students was difficult. “In an inspection of dorms we found students’ ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) cards were left with the bookmakers because they’d lost in betting,” and had to repay outstanding loans, Atichat said. “Most of the money in ATMs was from Student Loan Fund (SLF) loans.” One report cited a female student who spent all her student loan funds on football gambling and was then forced to drop out of school as she was unable to meet tuition fees. Other students faced charges of theft after being caught stealing valuables from dormitory rooms to fund their gambling habit. Universities have sought to crackdown on the gambling habits, including efforts to control the sale of alcohol and taking disciplinary action against students caught gambling. Others took steps to block access to online gambling
SOUTH EAST ASIA 15
websites by blocking wi-fi connections. Public Health officials recommended the setting up of anti-gambling networks on campuses, with cooperation from local communities together with the public and private sectors. The concerns come against a backdrop of a broader gaming survey undertaken by Dhurakij Pundit University, led by economics lecturer, Visanu Vong. Dhurakij Pundit University found that among students gambling on football there were some 104,261 people with betting limits of about 36,000 baht (US$1,000) per person a year, leading to an outlay of 3.8 billion baht (US$105 million), with students gambling through a bookmaker the largest total. Gaming on football has also expanded through online gaming.
IN AN INSPECTION OF DORMS WE FOUND STUDENTS’ ATM CARDS WERE LEFT WITH THE BOOKMAKERS BECAUSE THEY’D LOST IN BETTING
The survey of students found some 354,360 gambled through card games, 156,180 playing bingo games, 143,886 betting on the illegal lottery, with 137,396 gambling on the government’s official lottery. On a national basis the University’s survey estimated 16,369,217 people played the illegal lottery – centred on the two and three digit underground lottery that is based on the final numbers drawn from the official lottery. Some 15,454,668 were recorded betting on the legal lottery. A further 12,888,291 were estimated to play cards. Other categories nationally included 3,791,147 involved with betting on cockfighting and fighting fish betting, with 2,389,108 linked to games of dice, and 2,183,636 found to be involved with bingo gaming. The survey found the highest proportion of gamers live in Bangkok and the surrounding provinces. Among those aged 15-18 years the proportion stood at 37.41 per cent. The survey found people most active in
gambling were those in the lower income category with a monthly income of between 15,000 to 19,999 baht (US$416 - $555). Those earning less than 10,000 baht or US$280 looked to gaming as a way of improving their income. Young people are often introduced to gaming through betting on cockfights along with games of dice in local communities, together with card games and football gaming. Those who become involved in gaming usually start with cards, while older generations – more than 25 years of age – bet on the national lottery. Nationally, the purchase of lottery tickets is highly popular in Bangkok, while in the Northern provinces popular forms are the lottery and bingo games. In the South, near the border with Malaysia, gamers also take part in the football betting that is legal in Malaysia. Students in Bangkok favor football betting, followed by bingo and the lottery as well as cards which is seen as the gateway to other forms of gambling. They survey divided the groups into two; those who gamble on games for the sake of betting, while the other bet on other forms such as horse races and local boxing matches “due to the enjoyment and the excitement.” Local sports betting is highly popular and generally follows from one generation to the next. But the survey also found the reasons why people do not gamble has less to do with local laws prohibiting gambling, but rather as a personal dislike, or that it was seen as a waste of time and money. In relation to those gambling cards over the past year, the survey estimated that some 13 million people spent an average of 72,000 baht (US$2,000) a year per person or about 9.3 billion baht (US$258 million). In the category of those playing bingo games, the amount per person was much lower at 3,600 baht (US$100) representing a total for the year of 8.0 billion baht (US$222), with more than half playing at charitable fairs and other similar events. Finally, an estimated 2.4 million people play games of dice with individuals spending about 60,000 baht ($1,667) leading to an estimated turnover of 1.4 billion baht ($38 million). The survey discussed the social impacts on individuals from gaming especially in areas of being unable to meet existing debts and the psychological impact from gambling. Others see gaming as an enjoyment and way to relieve stress.
GROSS GAMING REVENUE Tourism arrivals Y15 29.9m
OFFICIAL LOTTERY THB 20b ($625m) GOVT. TARGET FOR REFORMED LOTTERY THB 44b UNDERGROUND LOTTERY THB 102b (Source Chulalongkorn University)
Thailand to attract more upmarket travellers Thailand attracted 29.9 million international visitors in 2015, an increase of over 20 percent compared to 2014, with a 17 percent increase in the average daily rate noted in luxury accommodation, according to Ministry of Tourism and Sports Thailand figures. The Kingdom is seeking to attract more upmarket travellers.
Thai locals back casinos Most Thais back the legalization of casinos in Thailand because it would enable the government to earn taxes and tourism income as well as creating jobs, a study by academic Krisada Phornprapha found. Krisada recommended that the government should proceed with legalizing casinos and ensure that gambling took up only 25 percent of the space in any given resort.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
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Bloomberry shares shine as investment spending begins to pay dividends 2015 was a dismal year for stocks in Philippine casino companies, even though the local market was likely the best performing in Asia in terms of gross gambling revenue. This year, the picture may be brighter.
loomberry Resorts shares have plunged 61.11 percent over the past year, though as investments at home begin to bear fruit and it diversifies overseas, sentiment may be turning towards the Philippine casino operator. Over the last month the shares have stabilized on renewed buying and are now 44.10 percent above the 52-week low set on January 18, 2016. According to the FT, the consensus forecast of 13 polled analysts is that the company will outperform the market. This is a sharp difference from only a month ago when the sentiment was simply categorized at hold. As a holding company, Bloomberry only employs 19 people. The subsidiaries including Sureste, a developer, Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels, Inc. which is both a developer and operator of tourist facilities, Bloom Capital B.V., a financial holding along with Solaire de Argentina S.A. and Solaire Korea Co, Ltd employ approximately 5,177 employees. For Q3, 2015, the company reported total revenue gained 29 percent year-on-year to PHP 7.09 billion ($150.3 million). It had a net loss of PHP 189 million compared with a net profit of PHP 992 million a year earlier due to capital expenditures. The figures compare favorably with the
GROSS GAMING REVENUE Y15 PHP 130b ($2.75b)
$2.9b $5.8b (Source: Pagcor)
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
revenue of PHP 4.2 billion reported in the same period for Melco Crown (Philippines), whose City of Dreams resort opened in February 2015 and the PHP 5.43 billion reported by Travellers International Group, which was a decline from PHP 7.21 billion a year earlier. Travellers is a joint venture between Malaysia’s Genting and local group Alliance Global and runs the Resorts World Manila property. Q4 figures were not available as of going to press. Some big questions for the stock are, has spending for development in Korea slowed and will the company outperform throughout 2016? Bloomberry raised $126 million in November 2014 for the primary purpose of funding overseas expansion. While news about other large casino and resort developers has received the majority of coverage, the company through its Solaire Korea unit purchased two small islands off of the coast of Incheon and a hotel and casino on the well-known island of Jeju. As China VIP play declines in most major jurisdictions, the success of Bloomberry’s diversification efforts may play a key role for the company’s future prospects. Richard Laneda, an analyst at COL Financial Group in Manila, estimates that currently the group gets 20 percent of its income from Chinese visitors. The Jeju Sun Hotel and Casino, acquired in
March last year, was re-launched in September as the “only true integrated resort in Korea.” However, it almost immediately hit a speed bump, being forced to close in November for one month “as penalty for the acts of its previous casino management,” according to a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange. This brings to mind the accounting term, “contingent liability.” There are always risks inherent in purchasing existing businesses, especially in the gaming industry. While it is too soon to determine if the resort and casino will produce substantial growth, the general sentiment towards investments in South Korea has turned sour recently. Competition is fierce in Jeju, with a total of eight foreigner-only casinos on the local island. However, the renovations and developments look promising for 2016 at the Jeju Sun Resort, which is actually Bloomberry’s first operating overseas property. The key here is the access to Korea that Bloomberry is seeking. The South Korean government issued one gaming license late last week choosing not to award a second available permit at this time. Unfortunately, Bloomberry was not the chosen candidate. Mohegan Sun and KCC in a consortium were the winners of an integrated resort project on Yeongjong Island.
New investment requirements for casinos, says Pagcor Pagcor may consider issuing gambling licenses outside the capital of Manila, and plans to require new casinos to meet a $300 million minimum investment requirement. The Philippine regulator reported total income of P47.2 billion (US$995.8 million) for 2015, up 18 percent from the previous year. Revenue from gaming operations was up 45 percent.
SOUTH EAST ASIA 17
It will be interesting to see what Bloomberry does with its purchases and investments in Korea. We are awaiting a statement from management as to their future plans. The key question is whether the positioning of Bloomberry in Korea in Jeju will allow them to capitalize on the Incheon location in the future or will the firm have to take a charge or sell their recent purchases. In terms of the Philippines, the Solaire Resort and Casino was the first of four casinos to open in Entertainment City, which is a complex along the Bay City area of Paranaque in Manila. The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, (or PAGCOR) which is the country’s gambling regulator and the overseer of the Entertainment City plan, told Bloomberg in February this year that Philippine gaming
revenue is expected to more than double 2016’s estimated 135 billion pesos ($2.83 billion) by 2025 when all four projects are operating. The resort operator in November said its significant investments in the “Sky Tower” would begin to show in 2016. The Phase 2 expansion of the Solaire complex which cost approximately PHP 51 billion, added to Phase One with a 312 room, all-suite 17 storey hotel, lyrical theatre, (where Les Miserables will open next week), conference facilities and the “Forum,” a specialized meeting room facility. The upswing in shares started after the Korea purchases but continued growth, and of course earnings, will be contingent on the Philippines resort occupancy and revenues in 2016, not only on the activities in Korea. The key question is whether Chinese
tourists and ‘high-rollers’ will stay away from not only Macau, but also the Philippines. Our feeling is the domestic market as well as gamblers from Southeast Asian countries and South Koreans seeking a new experience elsewhere along with the conference facilities will pick up some of the slack. It is also expected that not all Chinese investors will stay away and neither consolidation nor restructuring are on the cards. Wall Street analysts recommend a buy for the company’s shares. With CAPEX spending at Bloomberry Resorts Corp slowing this year, there should be a substantial increase in free cash flow. The result will be a substantial improvement in net profit margins, net income and shareholder equity going forward in 2016 and beyond. Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
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SOLAIRE RESORT & CASINO Solaire is a 16-hectare gaming and integrated resort complex along Asean Avenue in Parañaque City. Bay Tower of Solaire consists of a casino with an aggregate gaming floor area of approximately 18,500 square meters (including approximately 6,000 square meters of exclusive VIP gaming areas), with approximately 1,400 slot machines, 295 gaming tables and 88 electronic table games. Bay Tower has 488 hotel rooms and 15 specialty restaurants. Contiguous to the existing Solaire Resort and Casino, the Sky tower consists of a 312 all-suite hotel, additional ten VIP gaming salons with 66 gaming tables and 223 slot machines. It also includes a certified 1,760-seat lyric theatre.
CITY OF DREAMS Belle Corp and Melco Crown held the soft opening of the $1.3 billion City of Dreams casino resort project in December and the grand opening on Feb. 2. As of June 30, 2015, City of Dreams Manila has around 272 gaming tables, 1,588 slot machines and 130 electronic table games in operation. The integrated resort features three entertainment venues, namely: DreamPlay by DreamWorks, Manila’s first branded Family Entertainment Center; Centerplay, a live performance central lounge
Judge dismisses LVS infringement claims U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan from the District Court of Nevada has granted First Cagayan’s motion to dismiss a case related to copyright infringement claims filed by Las Vegas Sands in 2014. The U.S. operator brought the case against more than 50 Asian websites that were using its brands and trademarks without permission.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
inside the casino; and Chaos and Pangaea Ultra-Lounge, two nightclubs situated within the Fortune Egg, an architecturally-unique dome-like structure accented with creative exterior lighting. City of Dreams Manila includes an approximately 260-room Crown Towers hotel, a 365-room hotel managed by Hyatt International Corporation and Asia’s first Nobu Hotel with 321 rooms.
RESORTS WORLD MANILA Travellers International Hotel Group, a joint venture between Genting Hong Kong and Alliance, invested PHP 2.05 billion in 2015 Q3 to expand Resorts World Manila. The second phase of the property, which includes the expansion of the Marriott Hotel Manila by an additional 227 rooms, is expected to be ready by 2015 Q1. The expansion will cover a two-hectare area currently used as a carpark. This will include a four-star international branded hotel offering 1,000 rooms, sitting atop a full-service shopping mall that will link Resorts World Manila to Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The company has delayed the opening of a second Manila resort, the $1.1-billion Resorts World Bayshore along Manila Bay to 2018. Pagcor has approved new gaming capacity of 420 gaming tables and 4,148 gaming
machines at the resort. At end-2013, Resorts World Manila housed 287 gaming tables for the VIP and mass markets, 1,822 slot machines and 210 electronic table games.
MANILA BAY RESORTS Tiger Resorts and Entertainment, the Philippine unit of Japan’s Universal Entertainment, is now scheduled to finish its Manila Bay Resorts project by December 2016, more than a year later than originally planned. The company has said it may invest as much as $4 billion. It plans to raise $600 million through a bond sale to help finance the complex. Once fully operational, Manila Bay Resorts would feature two luxury hotels, a 30,000-square-meter casino floor with 3,000 slot machines and 500 table games, as well as a number of dining, leisure, and entertainment options. It will include an indoor man-made beach club covered by a huge glass dome, high-end and casual dining restaurants, upscale retail shops, trade halls and cinemas. The group recently overcame a key regulatory hurdle by teaming with local businessman Antonio O. Cojuangco and his All Seasons Hotels & Resorts Corp. to comply with Philippine regulations on foreign land ownership.
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T H E WO R L D ’ S L A R G E S T G AT H E R I N G O F G A M I N G P R O F E S S I O N A L S – G LO ABsA LG A M I N G E X P O.CO M ia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
SOUTH EAST ASIA 20
GROSS GAMING REVENUE
Genting Malaysia Y15 revenue RM8.4 million Malaysia hospitality revenue RM5.57b
Genting doubles investment on RWG revamp Malaysia’s only licensed casino operator, Genting Malaysia, is doubling down on its bet on the domestic market, despite a sluggish economy. Analysts say an investment plan to revamp facilities at its flagship Resorts World Genting will be the main catalyst for the stock performance.
he company says it will now spend RM10.38 billion ($2.46 billion), up from its original plan to invest RM5 billion on the ten-year Genting Integrated Tourism Plan. The plan was launched in December 2013 and is designed to completely overhaul the ageing facilities at the resort, with the addition of new hotel capacity, shopping and tourism facilities. Analysts have said the plan will be the main driver for growth at Genting for the foreseeable future. The capital investment under Phase 1 of the GITP will increase from RM4 billion to RM8.11 billion. Under this phase, the first-ever branded Twentieth Century Fox World theme park will see a substantial increase in investment with more “spectacular, thrilling and state-of-the-art rides than previously announced.” Total investment in the Twentieth Century Fox World theme park is expected to exceed RM2 billion. The park had originally been scheduled to open later this year, though the timeframe has been pushed back and Genting hasn’t given a revised opening date. Meanwhile the existing indoor theme park will undergo a major transformation offering a total of 18 rides from the existing nine. “Although we like the new GITP plan
with higher investment capital to fend off the competition, the near-term market outlook is expected to be challenging with the slowdown in China’s economy,” TA Securities said in a research note. Genting is targeting 30 million visitors by 2020 and says it remains optimistic about the long-term prospects for tourism in the region, despite the current uncertainties. Domestically, the tourism-related measures announced under the recalibrated 2016 budget are expected to have a positive impact on the local tourism sector, it says. In January, Malaysia announced it will waive the visas for Chinese tourists for a stay of no more than 15 days from March 1 to December 31 this year. Kuala Lumpur is keen to attract Chinese tourists to help boost the economy, which has been hurt by the drop in oil and other commodity prices. Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that the country aims to draw annually eight million Chinese tourists over the next five years with 22.1 billion ringgit spending power. However, Genting remains cautious on the gaming market given the continuing weakness in the VIP market. In Q4, Genting Malaysia posted an 11
percent increase in total revenue to RM2.29 billion, as growth from its operations in the U.S. and Bahamas offset a decline in the U.K. and sluggish growth of just 4 percent in leisure and hospitality revenue at home. The impact of the Goods and Services Tax and higher payroll costs resulted in a lower adjusted earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization margin, it added. Adjusted EBITDA declined by 14 percent to RM521.3 million. Under the expanded plan, the company will also improve infrastructure with an additional 8,000 car park bays, bringing the total parking bays to about 18,000. There will be a new high-speed cable car system that will be able to carry up to twice the passenger capacity of the current system from the midhill to the hilltop. The expansion plans also include a substantial increase in staff accommodation to cater for an additional 7,000 new job opportunities, as well as new power sub-stations and water treatment plants to cater for future growth demands. Meanwhile, the new 1,300-room First World Hotel Tower 3 has been fully operational since June 2015. Other GITP attractions and facilities are expected to be opened in stages from the second half of 2016.
Genting launches live dealer casino
Genting to be involved in First Light Resort and Casino
Genting is now offering a live online dealer casino, regulated by the U.K. Gambling Commission. Genting Casino & Live Casino features dedicated dealers on Genting exclusive tables allowing players to talk to dealers in real time.
Genting Massachusetts may be aiding the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in building and managing its $500 million First Light Resort and Casino development, in return for interest income and management fees, according to a note from Maybank.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
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Genting Singapore faces VIP headwinds, loses market share Singapore’s two casinos are struggling to find new momentum for growth, with slowing tourism spending, lower VIP revenue and a weakening economy. Though analysts say one is falling behind.
enting Singapore continues to grapple with the legacy of prior credit policies to VIP clients and is losing market share to rival Marina Bay Sands, owned by Las Vegas Sands. The company recently cut 30 jobs at its Resorts World Sentosa property, with some of the losses coming from the casino department, including cage cashiers and pit managers. The company was eager to stress the cuts were part of an annual review of staff members, but some analysts viewed the trim as a sign of the slow economic times. In Q4, Genting Singapore posted results that missed expectations on both the top and the bottom line, although adjusted for the luck factor, the figures were more positive. Net profit tumbled 82 percent to S$22 million (US$15.7 million) from the same period the year before. Revenue for the quarter came in at S$547.4 million, down 14 percent from S$637.9 million in 2014. Gaming revenue was down 19 percent to S$374.0 million, from S$461.3 million in 2014. For the year ended Dec. 31, 2015, the group reported net profit at S$193.1 million, down 70 percent from S$635.2 million. Revenue for the year was reported at S$2.4 billion, down 16 percent from S$2.9 billion in 2014 and an adjusted EBITDA of S$915 million. VIP rolling chip volume fell 42 percent year-on-year, while mass was down 7 percent. Singapore’s casinos have been hurt by declining China VIP volumes, but analysts say the market is stabilizing. Q4 gross gambling revenue was $1.5 billion, compared with $1.7 billion in Q3 and $1.6 billion in Q3. “However, Genting Singapore continues to face headwinds as it continues to rework its VIP business and repositions its Mass marketing efforts,” Bernstein said in a note. Bad debts continued to a be a problem for the company, though less so than in prior quarters. The bad debt expense was $45 billion compared with $92 million in Q3 and the company said that it may take until
the second half of this year to fully unwind the credit extended to high rollers over the past 18 months. “The company has been tightening its credit policy over the past 4 plus quarters; therefore, going forward, we remain optimistic of management’s prudent control of the bad debt provision after the current series of write-offs are finalized over the next ~2 quarters,” Bernstein Research said. “Clarity around the write-offs will be positive to the stock price.” Still, as it continues to grapple with bad credit and falling VIP numbers, the company is losing market share to its rival Marina Bay Sands, owned by Las Vegas Sands. Union Gaming estimates that RWS had a 38 percent share of rolling chip volume during the quarter, and a 40 percent share of mass market GGR. “We would look for this gulf to widen, especially as it relates to VIP business, for the foreseeable future as Genting further retrenches in VIP, while we would expect mass share to remain largely stable at around 40 percent,” the firm said. The stronger U.S. dollar and a low win rate also hit profits at MBS in Q4, with net profit of US$338.2 million, down about 35 percent from a year earlier. However, if foreign currency fluctuations and a $90.1 million property tax refund received in the prior year are excluded, the resort’s EBITDA rose 11.8 percent.
GROSS GAMING REVENUE Y15 $4.8b
TOURISM ARRIVALS Y15 15.2m
TOURISM SPENDING Y15 $22b
Casino exclusions rise The number of individuals excluded from entering Singapore’s two casinos rose 15 percent in 2015 to 277,500 active cases. Around 84 percent of these were individuals who submitted their own names for exclusion.
Genting Singapore sets up marketing subsidiary Genting Singapore has set up an indirectly held subsidiary to showcase its property in Thailand. Genting International Services (Thailand) Ltd will be “principally engaged in the business of carrying on the activities of marketing, public relations and promoting the business relating to the leisure and hospitality sector, excluding direct sales to customers,” the company said.
RESORTS WORLD SENTOSA
MARINA BAY SANDS
Spans 49 hectares and features six hotels, a convention centre, the region’s only Universal Studios theme park, one of the world’s largest aquariums, as well as restaurants and spas. The casino has more than 500 tables and more than 2,400 slots. Genting opened its 15-storey Genting Hotel Jurong in April 2015 to help boost the company’s mass tourism base.
Features approximately 2,600 rooms and suites located in three 55-story hotel towers. Atop the three towers is the Sands SkyPark, an extensive outdoor recreation area with a 150-meter infinity swimming pool and several dining options. The integrated resort offers approximately 160,000 square feet of gaming space with approximately 600 table games and 2,500 slot machines. Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
Casinos struggle with VIP decline as investor interest wanes Seoul’s plans to boost tourism through more integrated resorts were dealt a blow by collapsing Chinese VIP revenue, with interest in the South Korean market shrinking in tandem with the mainland retreat
he most recent results from South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos make for sombre reading for any group considering a large-scale investment in the country. Both Grand Korea Leisure and Paradise Co. reported a steep drop in sales and earnings for Q4 as the number of Chinese VIPs dropped, with analysts predicting the trend will continue into 2016. Grand Korea Leisure posted below consensus Q4 results, with total sales falling 17 percent to KRW 123 billion ($100.6 million) as the number of Chinese VIPs fell by 37 percent. The company, which operates the Seven Luck casinos, posted an operating profit of KRW
22 billion, below the average forecast for KRW 27 billion. The company says it’s confident it can achieve its sales guidance of KRW 560 billion in 2016, an increase of some 10.6 percent, though Morgan Stanley cast doubt on the group’s ability to meet the estimate, saying it expects sales to decline by 3 percent this year. Although Chinese VIP numbers continue to weaken, GKL reports seeing some strength from VIPs from other sources and from mass players. “Even if GKL meets its top-line guidance, we believe it would be at the expense of its margin. Our OP margin assumption is 23 percent in 2016 (down from 25 percent), with potential downside risk depending on cost control,”
NORTH ASIA 23
the investment firm said in a note following the results. “We expect the stock to remain pressured by the unfavorable regulatory environment and slowing Chinese economy,” it adds. The picture was similar at Paradise Co., which lists the Paradise Walker Hill and Jeju Lotte amongst its properties. Net profit was KRW 3.68 billion for Q4, down 12 percent from the year before, according to a filing to the Korean Stock Exchange. Sales went down 0.6 percent year on year in Y15Q4 to KRW 178.2 billion compared to KRW 179.2 billion in the same period in 2014. For the full year of 2015, the casino operator reported a net profit of KRW 65.3 billion, down from KRW 96.4 in 2014. Casino sales came in at KRW 528.2 billion for the full year of 2015 compared to KRW 588.4 billion in 2014. The results were in sharp contrast to those of Kangwon Land, which operates the only casino in South Korea that allows local access. Kangwon Land reported net income for Y15Q4 at KRW 93.0 billion, almost double that of the prior-year period. Revenue from sales in the fourth quarter increased by 8.6 percent
year-on-year to KRW 405.9 billion, narrowly missing analyst estimates. Revenues from slot machines increased by 15.2 percent to KRW 144 billion and revenues from VIP tables reached KRW 66.4 billion, up by 3.6 percent. Morgan Stanley says the weakness in the foreigner-only casinos comes in part from Beijing’s efforts to crack down on direct marketing activities of the two foreigner-only companies in China. It estimates a further 32 percent drop in China VIPs in the first half of this year and although numbers from Japan and elsewhere are improving they are nowhere near enough to offset the loss from the mainland, which accounted for 50 percent of the VIP drop last year. The slowdown comes against the backdrop of an auction for a new casino license for South Korea. Seoul in February announced U.S. tribal operator Mohegan Sun, along with local partner KCC was the winner of the right to build a property in Incheon. The parties plan a $1.2 billion resort, to be known as Inspire, with construction beginning in early 2017. The government decided to only award one of the two licenses it had been originally planning to allocate. It didn’t give a reason, but investor enthusiasm for a market considered until recently as one of the best prospects in Asia has waned considerably. Out of the 34 groups that were interested in bidding for the licenses, only about six submitted requests for proposals by the November deadline. Some high profile names, such as Grand Korea Leisure, which had been considered a front-runner, pulled out on concern about the economic feasibility of the plan. According to Union Gaming, the site chosen by Mohegan Sun for the development is not geographically close to the other two integrated resorts planned for Incheon. Therefore it will not benefit from the cluster effect seen in Las Vegas and Macau. “Given the state of gaming in Asia, which includes an apparent permanent impairment of VIP, the return story associated with (up to) three large scale projects in disparate locations in Incheon remains in question,” the note said. Paradise Entertainment along with Japan’s Sega Sammy have begun construction on a large-scale resort, which is due to be opened in 2017. However, the future of a venture between Caesars Entertainment and Hong Kong-listed property developer Lippo remains uncertain as it has yet to begin construction and there are ongoing issues related to the acquisition of the land. As it stands, Morgan Stanley, in an Insight
report into gaming in South Korea, said it expects Paradise’s Incheon resort to have among the lowest returns on invested capital of all the new properties opening across Asia at 3.7 percent in year one. Paradise City will expand the gaming floor area in South Korea by about 28 percent and the number of gaming tables by 37 percent. Without either a change in government policy to allow in locals, which is considered a very low probability, or a significant turnaround in China VIPs, there is likely to be significant oversupply in the market compared with demand, it says.
FOREIGNER-ONLY GGR Y15
$1.21b $1.32b (Source: Morgan Stanley)
Korea lottery sales reach highest in 11 years Sales of lottery tickets in Korea reached the highest in 11 years in 2015, according to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance. Sales of lottery tickets totaled KRW 3.26 trillion (US$2.7 billion) up 6.8 percent from 2014 and the highest since 2004 when sales totaled KRW 3.3 trillion.
Koreans arrested for operating illegal online gambling sites Over 20 South Koreans were arrested in Cambodia for allegedly operating an online gambling website on Feb. 5, while a group of seven South Koreans operating an illegal sports betting website in Vietnam was also arrested, continuing the run of arrests of Korean nationals operating illegal gambling sites across Asia. Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
NORTH ASIA 24
Tax hike proposal sparks industry outrage Russia’s renascent casino industry, which was shuttered in major cities in 2009 as a result of a presidential decree, is under threat again, this time from government efforts to extract more gambling revenue.
ndustry executives have lambasted a Finance Ministry proposal to raise gaming taxes, saying that such an initiative would “destroy the gambling business.” Russian business daily Kommersant last week reported possible measures being considered by the government to bring much-needed funds to the cash-strapped Russian budget. According to a government source, the Finance Ministry proposed to increase taxes on gambling businesses tenfold and make bookmakers deduct 10 percent of the proceeds from online betting. The necessary legislation is expected to be finalized by the end of 2016. No ministry official has openly confirmed Kommersant’s report. However, another influential business daily, Vedomosti, confirmed that this initiative would be among measures to improve budget revenues, which will be presented to
MelcoLot drops plans for Georgia casino MelcoLot said its plans for a casino in Georgia will not proceed after failing to reach accord over a prospective site. The company said it has been negotiating with Dhabi Group Georgia over a potential lease. “Although every effort has been made to negotiate with Dhabi on the lease terms, the parties are unable to reach an agreement on terms satisfactory to MelcoLot,” it said.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
the government for consideration this week. Primorye Territory tourism department head Konstantin Shestakov has since sought to reassure investors saying the information about the tenfold increase was not confirmed in phone calls made to senior ministry officials. At present, Russia’s casino operators pay 7,500 roubles (about US $100 at the current exchange rate) per month for each of their slot machines and 125,000 (about $1,700) for each gaming table. Russian bookmakers pay a monthly fee of 7,000 roubles for each betting shop. The low gaming tax rate in the country, one of the most favorable in the world, has been seen as a major draw for foreign investors. One unnamed source at a casino operator told the newspaper that the proposed hike will bring business to a standstill and the development of gambling zones will become unfeasible. He also noted that attendance at gaming properties is not currently growing, as in times of economic crisis people are spending less on gambling. Evgeniy Kosykh, general manager at the Altai Palace casino, told Betting Business Russia that none of the legally operating gambling establishments in Russia will be able to cope with such an increase in the tax rate. “If the tax rate is increased tenfold, all gambling establishments will close down. When it comes to the activities of our casino, taxes will be two times higher than our revenue. To take such initiatives means to destroy the gambling business,” he said. If the tax is finally introduced, his company won’t build a second casino in the Siberian Coin, which it had planned to construct by 2018. Similar views were voiced by Goran Miloshevski, director of gaming at the Diamond Fortunes Holding, and Dmitriy Krylov, vice president of player development at G1 Entertainment, in an interview with the Vladivostok News publication. Both companies
are investing in the Primorye gambling zone. “Construction and opening of a casino is a long-term project, whose payback period is calculated for the period of 5-7 years and whose profitability is calculated for more than 10 years. All calculations concerning those complexes that are currently under construction were made with today’s tax rates established by the Primorsky Territory administration,” Miloshevski said. He also noted that a sharp tax hike may scare both Russian and foreign investors, resulting in the Primorye zone slowing down its development. At Primorye’s first casino, the Tigre de Cristal, there are 70 gaming tables and 247 slot machines. According to the Primorsky Territory administration, in 2015 the total
NORTH ASIA 25
GROSS GAMING REVENUE Y20E $1.7b
TAX REVENUE Y16E 165 million rubles Y19E 700 million roubles Y22E 2.5 billion roubles GAMING TAX RATE 1.3%
Liga Stavok launches first online betting website Russian-based bookmaker Liga Stavok will launch Russia’s first site to accept bets online and the first online betting account transfer center. Liga Stavok is the trade name of First International Bookmaker Company, one of the leading Russian gambling companies with over one million customers, employing over 1,000 people.
amount of taxes and fees collected from the casino amounted to 109 million roubles, of which 37.5 million came from gambling taxes. “It is unlikely that they will increase the gambling tax tenfold at once. It is difficult to draw final conclusions, as there is no draft of the bill available. In fact, no casino in Russia can survive if such taxes are introduced as they just don’t have sufficient revenues. If such an increase is made, this will kill the gambling business in the country,” Krylov said. Russian bookmakers complain they will also rack up losses if the tax is introduced. Bingo-Boom bookmaking company head Konstantin Makarov told Finmarket.ru: “It will be a serious burden for business given the unstable exchange rate and the unfavourable
economic situation. Many betting shops will close down.” The president of the first Self-Regulating Bookmakers Organization Oleg Zhuravskiy told Kommersant that bookmakers’ revenue has fallen by about 30 percent since the beginning of 2015 due to the crisis. He predicted that if taxes are raised, 30-40 percent of bookmaking offices in Russia will have to close. First Gaming head Leonid Oboznyy agrees. “The tenfold increase in the tax will be a shock to the industry and will result in a significant reduction of taxable activity and reduce the number of bookmaker licence holders. Therefore, for purposes of increasing tax revenues the results will most likely be insignificant,” he said. In another blow for bookmakers, Russian
President Vladimir Putin earlier instructed the government to develop a bill that would force bookmakers to allocate part of their profits to sport development. Meanwhile, on a brighter note, there was some good news for the industry this week. The first website accepting bets online was launched by the Liga Stavok bookmaking company, along with a central payment processing hub for online betting called TSUPIS, which will serve as an intermediary between players and bookmakers. Zhuravskiy said at a presentation that he expects the legal bookmaking market to double within a year after its launch. The grey market, in his estimates, currently amounts to $1-2 billion a year. Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
SOUTH EAST ASIA
New legislation to lure foreign investors?
In an increasingly crowded Asian casino market, several jurisdictions have new rules on the drawing board that aim to attract foreign investment and boost tourism. Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
ambodia, which has so far proved a bright spot in terms of regional gambling revenue, is expected to introduce new casino legislation
this year. “When the law is enacted, we will not only be able to double revenue from the industry but also open the market to direct investment from major investors,” Ros Phearun, deputy director general of the ministry’s finance industry department, was cited by local media as saying. He said foreign investors have been deterred from directly investing in casinos due to the lack of appropriate legislation. He also said that the bill will not levy further taxes on the industry, despite some industry expectations for a modest increase. “We had planned to get approval from the National Assembly in the first half of the year, but we have seen a bit of a delay, so now I hope it will be approved by the end of the year and the tax rate will stay the same as what we impose now,” he was cited as saying. Last year there were 75 casinos in Cambodia, generating about $34.7 million in taxes, up 33 percent from 2014, he said. The number of casinos this year has fallen to 70, including eight that are in the process of applying for licenses. However, many of the casinos are small and dotted along the borders with Thailand and Vietnam to cater to locals of those countries who are banned from gambling at home. They are not likely to attract the type of foreign investment the government is seeking to boost revenue and tourism. The Cambodian Tourism Ministry in January released a white paper aimed at boosting Cambodia’s share of outbound Chinese visitors. The plan aims for about 2 million Chinese tourists per year by 2020, accounting for about a third of total projected tourist arrivals by that date. “Marketing Cambodia as a tourist destination in the Chinese market is still limited and tourism facilities are not meeting the expectations of Chinese tourists,” Tourism Minister Thong Khon was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying. Cambodia had about 4.2 million visitors in the 11 months through to November last year, putting it on track to exceed the prior year’s arrivals. China arrivals rose 24 percent and made up about 15 percent of the total, according to Tourism Ministry figures. China makes up the second-largest group of travellers to the Kingdom after Vietnam.
The country’s listed casino operators have also reported strong growth, helped in part by the exodus of Chinese VIPs shunning Macau. Hong Kong-listed Nagacorp, operator of the NagaWorld casino, posted a 26 percent rise in gross gaming revenue for 2015 to $480.6 million. Gross profit increased by 20 percent to $327.8 million, and EBITDA increased by 30 percent to $228.5 million. VIP rollings increased by 27 percent to $7.9 billion, mass market table buy ins increased by 18 percent to $550.2 million and mass market electronic gaming machines revenue increased by 16 percent to $1.4 billion. Union Gaming in a note following the release of the Nagacorp figures said it expects continued strong growth. The firm also pointed out that while benefiting from rising VIP numbers, the operator is not overly exposed to the high roller segment, which tends to be more volatile. “As we look out to the balance of 2016 and into 2017, we continue to see double digit earnings growth for the company (ex up-front slot fees paid to the company), most of which will be delivered by the high-margin, highvisibility mass market and slots segments,” the note said. Australia-listed Donaco International has also said its Star Vegas Resort in Poipet is showing strong growth. Rolling chip turnover in the half to December gained 29 percent to AS$2.3 billion ($1.6 billion), while property level EBITDA was up 7 percent to $37.8 million on an actual basis. The company said gross gaming revenue from table games rose to $83.3 million compared with $66.1 million in the comparable period a year earlier, while revenue from slots was up to $24.8 million from $23.2 million. The company said the increase in rolling chip turnover was driven by marketing campaigns and VIP baccarat tournaments in October and December. However the increase in rolling turnover also led to an increase in junket commissions. Donaco said it has suspended an accord with Macau junket group Heng Sheng, which began operating a VIP room at the resort last September. The three-year accord was designed to bring in VIP players from across Asia to help expand the customer base from its mostly Thai patronage. However, Donaco says the accord gave Heng Sheng exclusivity over certain countries, preventing the company from working with other junkets. It is now in advanced negotiations with other VIP junkets, which are expected to
bring in significant numbers of new players in coming months. The dedicated VIP facility that had been assigned to Heng Sheng is being restructured and Donaco says it has recovered its costs for the initial fit out of the room and associated facilities, such as a new restaurant and kitchen. It is also considering options to expand into the Star Paradise Hotel, which has about 240 rooms and potential new gaming space of 2,260 square metres over two levels. The facilities would be used to accommodate demand from new Thai junkets, it said.
NAGACORP Y15 GGR $480.6m VIP rollings
Mass market table
Y15 to Nov. 4,200,432
CASINO TAX COLLECTION
Naga extends slots contract with EGA Nasdaq-listed Entertainment Gaming Asia Inc announced it will continue leasing slot machines and related equipment to Cambodia’s NagaWorld from Mar. 1, 2016. EGA operates a total of 670 slot machines on Nagaworld’s casino floor, splitting net win from all machines on the basis of 25/75 percent.
Surging demand from China Cambodia continues to experience rapid traffic growth driven by surging demand from China. Passenger traffic in Cambodia has grown at a rate exceeding 10 percent for six consecutive years, including 13 percent in 2015. China has been the biggest driver of growth, with Chinese visitor numbers increasing by at least 20 percent for six consecutive years, according to the Centre for Aviation.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
Small is beautiful for Donaco’s Aristo Australia-listed Donaco International, which runs the recently revamped Aristo International hotel in Northern Vietnam, has been betting on smaller players to help counter any downturn in the number of China VIPs.
he casino, which originally opened in 2002, borders with China’s Yunnan province and is highly dependent on traffic from the mainland. The property was expanded in 2014 to a brand new five-star resort complex with 400 hotel rooms. In its Q4,15 results presentation, Donaco said it had been focusing its marketing efforts on smaller players to reduce its dependence on China’s VIPs. As a result, the average bet size during the quarter declined, leading to a drop of 14 percent in table games turnover in constant currency. However, junket commissions also declined. As a result net revenue from table games increased 70 percent in reported currency. Overall casino visitation was up by 63 percent to 61,167 players. The company said Aristo’s current table configuration is 11 VIP baccarat tables, 12 premium tables, 16 main hall baccarat tables and one blackjack table. The focus on smaller players has continued in January, when its hotel occupancy rose to
88 percent, compared with 71 percent in the year ago period. Overall, the property saw a 7 percent increase in gaming turnover in Q4 to $1.04 billion on a normalized basis. On a constant currency basis there was a decline of 14 percent. Gross gaming revenue was $35.43 million on a normalized basis, up from $28.79 million on that basis a year earlier. Vietnam’s casinos are waiting for new legislation that may prove a game changer. Draft legislation that may be introduced later this year may open the door to locals for the first time. The final version of the legislation is expected to halve the minimum investment required in an integrated resort to $2 billion. Previous drafts of the legislation had required any operators seeking a license to run an IR in the country to commit to a minimum investment of $4 billion, which was seen as too high for the Vietnamese market. Vietnamese citizens would be allowed on a pilot basis into one of the resorts. The Ho
GROSS GAMING REVENUE Y14 VND1.379 trillion ($61.3 million) TAX REVENUE Y14 VND339 billion ($15.16 million) Tram resort, on the coast near Ho Chi Minh City, has been tipped as the most likely venue for such a pilot scheme, which would run for a two-year trial. However, recent changes in the party leadership have renewed uncertainty around the locals issue, with the incumbent General Secretary, Nguyen Phu Trong reelected for another 5-year term. It had been speculated that reformist Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, would try to ascend to the country’s number one power position, instead, he appears to be moving his way out of politics.
Berjaya wins 18-year lottery contract
Total tourism arrivals increased 0.9 percent
Berjaya Corp and its subsidiary Berjaya Sports Toto won an exclusive 18-year contract to operate a nationwide computerised lottery in Vietnam. The project is worth about $210.58 million.
Total international tourism arrivals in 2015 reached 7,943,651, an increase of 0.9 percent. In February arrivals were estimated at 833,598, an increase 3.5 percent over January and up 20 percent over the same period last year.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
In-play debate rages as industry awaits review Australia’s sports betting industry is waiting for the results of a review that could have farreaching implications for one of the fastest-growing sectors of the country’s gambling market.
s the government deliberates its policy on online gaming, opposing parties continue to lobby their respective corners, with the industry arguing current policies are leading to a surge in illegal offshore gambling, while those against saying liberalization may cost political support. Former New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell completed his report into Australia’s online gambling laws at the end of last year and presented them to the government for review. His recommendations have not yet been published and are scheduled to be released alongside the government’s response. So far there is no date set for the release and in the meantime, both sides have been vocal. Among the issues under the spotlight are the prohibition of in-play betting online, advertising regulations and how unlicensed offshore operators are dealt with. At stake is a rapidly growing market. According to the Australian Wagering Council, online operators turned over AU$11.06bn (US$8.05bn) in 2014, up 20 percent year-onyear and almost three times the estimated AU$3bn the online market was worth in 2008. But, according to a recent opinion poll, which was distributed to federal members of parliament, about 35 percent of voters said they would be less likely to vote for the Coalition Party if it liberalizes in-play betting. The poll, which was leaked to The Australian newspaper, said 33 percent of voters were more likely to support the government if it in fact strengthened online gaming laws. There was not much support for in-play from government officials either, with one unnamed federal minister describing the liberalization of gambling laws on the verge of an election as “madness.” “The idea of watering down online gambling laws and allowing high-volume online in-play sports betting — turning every mobile phone into an online poker machine — is not politically smart at any time, let alone an election year,” the minister said. An adviser to an Australian-owned betting
company, who was not identified, said that after close to 50 meetings with MPs and senators in the last three weeks, there was yet to be one that supported online in-play sports betting. “The reality is that the foreign-owned corporate bookies backed by ‘big sport’ have probably won over some policy purist bureaucrats and a handful of advisers,’’ he said. In the other camp, Northern Territory gaming minister Peter Styles has backed the in-play betting method, saying failure to legalize the option will mean even more money will go to offshore operators. Styles said it was imperative the government amended laws to reflect changing technology and betting habits. “If we don’t keep up with the times and technology, people will simply go overseas. And you lose the ability to tax them, you lose the ability of that tax money for amelioration and harm minimisation programmes.” His views echo those of Australia’s leading sporting organizations who in their submission
to the federal review, warned that a ban against licensed bookmakers from offering in-play betting has allowed illegal offshore bookmakers to flourish, threatening the integrity of their competitions. While The Hong Kong Jockey Club in its submission pointed to major integrity and revenue risks as a result of illegal Asian bookmaking operations operating in the industry. One particular Asian operator was reported to see turnover of $930 million per year, representing 8 percent of total turnover from Australian licensed tote operators. The submission highlights the strong interest in Australian racing and sports from these illegal operators. If the government does liberalize in-play gaming, European operators who have entered the market in force in recent years are expected to be major beneficiaries, already tending to possess greater expertise in mobile and fixed-odds sports betting than their Australian competitors.
Star Entertainment net profit down 37.9 percent
Crown Resorts net profit down 22.1 percent
Star Entertainment posted a drop in interim revenue and profit in the six months to end December due to a low win rate in its international VIP rebate business. The group reported net profit after tax of A$60 million ($42.6 million), down 37.9 percent on the prior comparable period. Normalized NPAT before items was up 26.1 percent to $142 million. Actual gross revenue was down 2.6 percent to $1.1 billion, while normalized revenue rose 6.7 percent to $1.24 billion.
Crown Resorts reported a net profit of A$205 million (US$147.7 million) for the half year ended Dec. 31, 2015, down 22.1 percent compared to the same period in 2014. Overall revenue for Crown Resorts was A$1.9 billion, with the Australian resorts overall reporting better performance than their Macau counterparts. The company also said its six-star Crown Sydney property may not now open until about 2021 due to planning delays.
TOTAL GAMBLING EXPENDITURE All gambling Y13/14 A$21.15b Sports betting $625.95m Racing $2.78b
+1.8% +29% -2.4%
Total gaming (including pokies and lottery) $17.74b
(Source: Queensland Treasury)
Putting on the Ritz for Asia’s gamblers Roger Marris, Chief Executive Officer of the Ritz Club, sited within the legendary Ritz Hotel in London’s Mayfair district, has overseen a radical change in the casino’s focus and outlook to attract customers from Asia.
udging by the results, it’s a strategy that has achieved significant success. The Ritz Club doesn’t cater for the massmarket grind action-style players. What he and his team have carefully engineered is a mixture of games, services and other offerings to meet the needs of select, and very high-end, Chinese and other Asian players. For years the club was an important destination for clients from the Middle East. It still is, but since 2013 in particular, it has instituted changes to meet the needs of Asia-based clients. Marris breaks down the numbers of people now
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
playing in the VIP area to show how the balance has shifted geographically: “In terms of volume I would say that 60 percent are Asian, 30 percent - 35 percent are from the Middle East, and the remaining 5-10 percent from the rest of world. “In terms of the Asian clients, 40 percent are from China, 40 percent from Malaysia and the rest of the region, notably Indonesia make up the remainder,” he adds. Asia’s economic boom, and China’s in particular, provides the rationale for why players from the region started to visit the Ritz Club. But Marris has overseen a savvy and well-thought-out plan to ensure that those
at the high end keep coming back to Mayfair. “I started my second spell at the Ritz in 2011 when I was appointed chief executive. At that time I think the business had come to a crossroads. It had come to a point where they had to really understand where the strategy was, then and going forward…, I think it probably slipped off its mantle a little bit. “So we came in and identified very quickly a strategic initiative. We looked at what was happening globally, what was happening at the other Mayfair clubs in London and realized two things. Firstly, it was very important to keep our current base of VIPs from the Middle East. And I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that because we started as a Middle East club and we’re still a Middle East club. “But we felt that our VIPs should reflect the money that was coming into the UK, into London, and by that time - that was Asian.” Marris has been a Hong Kong resident and his time in the SAR not only polished his people skills, but gave him a front-row seat to witness the changes in the region and the impact on the gaming business internationally. “It’s interesting you visit all these countries, 10, 15 years ago when I lived in Hong Kong - they’re very different places now. They are a lot more sophisticated now, there’s a lot of money. “So they want to invest outside of China. And if they have their children at university or school, in England or America they want to buy properties here for them, they want to be here visiting when their children are being educated over here.” Coming back to his theme about what attracts Chinese gamers to the U.K.’s capital Marris explains: “So firstly London is a key destination. I think there are three pillars, and I can talk about the Ritz afterwards. “It’s still probably the most interesting city in the world. It’s the most diverse. I’ve lived in New York, I’ve lived in Hong Kong and I love both those cities. I think London itself is a destination that’s exciting. And you see that in the property prices, they’re just going in one direction. It’s not a bubble. It is the world centre for food. “Secondly, I think the sort of education the U.K. offers is critical. Parents bring their children across for schools, and for university. I think that’s a really strong attraction for the high end. And I would say the third one is Premier League football.” He says that the Premier League has become
AS CASINOS AND GAMING ARE LEGALIZED IN MORE COUNTRIES ALONG THE ROUTES, IT BODES WELL FOR EXPANSION OF THE TOURISM SECTOR AND MORE GAMING ESTABLISHMENTS
a global must-see for visitors to the U.K. in the same way as tourist attractions like the Tower of London, horse racing at Ascot and shopping in London’s West End. The Ritz Club packages its attractions as part of the overall offering to overseas visitors and investors. But of course, world-class attractions on their own aren’t going to bring gamers into the Ritz. For Marris, that’s down to a multi-layered strategy involving the impeccable club staff, the highest standards of customer service and making the most of the iconic Ritz Hotel brand.
One of Marris’ innovations to attract Asian players was to introduce 24-hour opening from 2013. The Ritz Club changed the focus from mainly offering roulette favoured by Middle Eastern gamers. Now 60 percent of the game play is baccarat favoured by Asian gamers. “In my mind the most impressive part about this business, is our people. Our staff in the hotel are brilliant, and downstairs in the club they’re just as brilliant. The current owners have owned the casino for 17 years and when we marked that anniversary I found out 30-40 percent of my staff had been there the whole time. “Our members, we’re on a first name basis with them. It’s interesting we’re part of a 5-star hotel. When you go for lunch at the 5-star hotel, they call you Mr or Ms or whatever, but in the club its first-name terms. It makes you feel at home. “But we are discreet. The hotel is very important for us and we have our own secret door so, particularly the Chinese, don’t have to leave the building. There is no advertising; this is an iconic brand. And also a lot of people don’t know there is a casino downstairs, so the high-end VIPs don’t get bothered. They’re left alone. Discretion is very, very important.”
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
Bringing the omni-channel revolution to Asia Omni-channel’s transition from industry buzzword to transformative strategy has been swift, but will it have the same impact in Asia?
nyone who was in London in February for ICE may have noticed that the usual divide between the online and land-based suppliers displaying at the exhibition appeared to have diminished. While the business of selling slots to casinos and online operators remains distinct, the two have been brought closer together in recent years by a new strategic approach which stresses the importance of offering consistency in product, payment and marketing - both in-venue and online. Omni-channel has been a favorite term on the industry conference circuit for some time now, but it appears to finally be having a tangible impact on the strategy and results of many of gaming’s biggest firms. “Omni-channel is at the core of providing casino and gaming content wherever players are and at any time, giving instant and reliable access to the latest games,” Max Lindenberg, head of product marketing at Novomatic, told AGB. “As the next generation of casino player emerges … operators can quickly extend their reach and cater to this rising demographic by providing omni-channel solutions
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
that position player-favourite content across land-based, online, mobile and social platforms ,” he added. Tom Light, VP of business development & commercials at SBTech, said omni-channel is now so important operators have been placed in an adapt or die scenario. “We look at the world from an omni-channel point for view, it is an important part of our business,” Light told AGB. “Essentially, although there are standalone online operations, there is no room for ‘standalone retail’ anymore, and all are converted into omni-channel. If any retail sports company would tell you otherwise they would very soon be out of business,” he added. Perhaps the most notable manifestation of the trend was GTECH’s $6.4bn takeover of IGT last year, which brought together giants of the land-based and online supplier industries. At the time Marco Sala, CEO of the newly-merged entity, said it was “uniquely positioned” to deliver exciting gaming experiences “through every channel, including lotteries, gaming machines, social, mobile, and interactive.”
operators looking to extend their omni- Club, designed to curtail the use of unlicensed channel reach has been a lack of markets offshore operators, has seen the online and where both online and land-based forms are mobile share of total football revenues grow to around 65 percent. fully regulated. And last year the HKJC moved to bolster “Omni-channel has been slower to take hold in Asia principally due to regulation, as its omni-channel offer with the launch of a online gambling remains illegal in multiple new dedicated mobile platform. Light at SBTech said that should the jurisdictions throughout the region,” said regulatory situation improve, Asia has massive Lindenberg. As a result, many of the omni-channel omni-channel potential. “This all comes down to regulation, like offers have remained illicit; in 2014 Galaxy Entertainment Group warned of unlicensed anything else – Asia is always the one with the online operators creating bogus, Galaxy- most potential, infinite opportunities but most branded websites trying to leverage the amount of regulatory barriers,” Light said. “The opportunity is bigger than anywhere casino’s land-based reputation. With more markets in the region beginning else due to the in-shop deposit/withdraw to explore the possibility of opening up concept, which is extremely crucial in a credit to online regulation, a further problem card-averse market,” he added. L i nd e nb e rg at remains - the lack Novomatic agrees that of local land-based there is big potential for operators with online omni-channel in Asia. expertise. In Europe THERE ARE “There are significant many of the major opportunities in Asia to land-based operators SIGNIFICANT access more players by can draw upon more OPPORTUNITIES IN delivering content across than a decade of online multiple channels,” experience, placing ASIA TO ACCESS he said. t h e m i n a s t ron g MORE PLAYERS BY He points to position to connect DELIVERING CONTENT Novomatic’s live casino the two offers. subsidiary Extreme Live Asia does have the ACROSS MULTIPLE Gaming, which has its advantage of being able CHANNELS roots in Asia, and has to look towards a range seen an uptake in its of suppliers which have Extreme Reel Roulette honed omni-channel product among Asian expertise elsewhere, and in those markets which do permit both operators as Beijing’s anti-corruption drive land-based and online offers there has been has put the squeeze on Macau’s VIP tables. As early as 2013, a PWC report into Asian some rapid progress. The Philippines is one Asian market where gaming acknowledged that “most casinos are the full scale of the omni-channel opportunity leaving money on the table” by not rolling is beginning to emerge. Playtech, a firm which out more extensive omni-channel products. Lindenberg said Asian punters are now has placed its Playtech ONE omni-channel solution at the centre of its strategy, said in far more demanding when it comes to using February that Philippines-licensed operations technology they are familiar with for leisure were its fastest growing jurisdiction for the and entertainment activities. “Players are accustomed to using multiple 2015 financial year. Philippines-licensed revenues rose 49 devices for day-to-day activities and a huge percent year-on-year to 199.6 million euros increase in mobile usage over recent years and accounted for more than a third of total means operators must offer a single gaming experience that can be accessed on all devices,” gaming revenue. The firm also said last August that it was he said. But while players are waiting for products installing a central system to cover all electronic bingo slot machines in 68 bingo clubs in the and brands which can channel an agnostic Philippines, a move which would see around approach, it will still require a major regulatory breakthrough across the region before the 5,000 machines installed nationwide. Meanwhile AGB understands that an impact of omni-channel on Asian gaming omni-channel push by the Hong Kong Jockey is truly felt.
Meanwhile omni-channel was also cited by Betfair CEO Breon Corcoran as a key consideration ahead of the firm’s recent merger with Paddy Power, as a way of adding a land-based presence to Betfair’s already strong online product. Omni-channel products have become commonplace in core European markets, particularly the UK. Among the most popular is Coral Connect from operator Gala Coral via Playtech, a card linked to a player’s online account which can be used to place bets in the bookmaker’s retail outlets. The solution allows users to place a bet online and pick up their winnings in a shop, while also enabling the operator to link a player’s retail and online activity. And the Rank Group, which operates the Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casino brands which include both an online and retail presence in the UK, has moved to bring consistency in slot branding and game formats across all channels, while also pioneering schemes to encourage retail customers to sign-up an online account while in venue. But if omni-channel is now seen a key revenue driver in Europe and the US, it is yet to have the same impact in Asia. The primary problem for Asia-based
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
HKJC seeks regional task force to tackle “out of control” illegal gambling Horse racing administrators have long talked tough about outlaw betting operators, but it appears key members of the Asian Racing Federation are ready to put words into action with the formation of a regional taskforce to combat illegal gambling.
n 2014, the Hong Kong Jockey Club identified the so-called horse racing exchanges, led by CITIbet and AA-Star, as a threat to the integrity of racing in Hong Kong and a drain on betting turnover to the non-profit organization. Further to that, the club has continued to warn authorities of the proliferation of Hong Kong citizens placing bets with even more unregulated operators, which is illegal, and other illegal betting activity throughout the region. Now respected Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges has called for a unified approach from key stakeholders to tackle the issue of illegal betting – a world he suggested is becoming
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
dangerously out of control as the internet renders borders “irrelevant.” “Technology has enabled illegal gambling operators to transform completely, so that we now see online operators taking bets on our races from a global customer base. National borders have become largely irrelevant,” Engelbrecht-Bresges told press at the recent Asian Racing Conference in Mumbai. “These operators now hold a volume of bets on our races which in some cases completely eclipses our own. This is a problem that we cannot afford to ignore and which requires at the very least a regional approach – individual nations acting alone will not be able to stem this tide – so I will be proposing to
the ARF executive council that we establish a task force with the mission of developing an anti-illegal betting strategy. “This will be a multi-pronged strategy incorporating research and intelligence, media, government submissions, links with law enforcement agencies, and identification of key influencers. We must also ensure that this taskforce is adequately resourced.” The HKJC enjoys a gambling monopoly in Hong Kong and turnover on racing hit an all-time high last season, topping US$13.8 billion, yet the club believes the operators are a drain on those numbers. “The threat from operations like this is not so much to Hong Kong racing as it is to the model of returning maximum benefits to the Hong Kong community the club represents,” the CEO explained last year. “The club operates under a unique, not-for-profit business model. Every year, it gives back more than 70 percent of its revenue to society through donations and tax contributions. In the last fiscal year, we returned HK$24.4 billion ($3.1 billion) to the community, with HK$3.6 billion of that given in charitable donations and the rest (HK$20.8 billion) paid in taxes.” In his opening address in Mumbai, Engelbrecht-Bresges also delivered some sobering statistics on how much the club’s number crunchers believe is bet through illegal channels globally: US$500 billion annually, with US$350 billion of that coming from Asia. He went on to say that US$12.8 billion is bet on Hong Kong racing alone, almost as much as the amount bet legally. For the first time Jockey Club officials also put an estimated figure on how much they believe is bet through CITIbet, the agent-based exchange licensed in the Philippines that allows account holders to not only bet on horses, but take bets from other customers – essentially betting on runners to lose. Engelbrecht-Bresges says the move from traditional illegal bookmaking to exchanges is a dangerous trend. “They’re not just bookmakers. They’re starting exchanges, which is less risky. They don’t take any risk positions, or very limited ones,” he said. “CITIbet is the major illegal exchange, and we have pretty reliable information that they handle $7.8 billion [on Hong Kong racing]. We then worked with our Australian colleagues to estimate the effect there, which was nearly A$1 billion, which is practically 8 percent of Australian turnover. That is on
one exchange. And there are many others. These exchanges are a threat not only on the wagering side, but also to the integrity of the sport.” It was also revealed recently that the Jockey Club had taken the extraordinary measure of making a submission to the Australian government’s contentious review into offshore gambling. The taskforce is expected to take shape after members of the ARF meet again in June, but Jockey Club director of security and integrity Martin Purbrick will be looked to for direction and strategies into ways to combat what can be a legal and political minefield.
Purbrick stresses the need for joint involvement of agencies ranging from law enforcement through to telecommunication companies, although he did say that banking controls had become largely “irrelevant”. “If anything, this (illegal gambling) should worry law enforcement even more than sports or racing,” he said. “The key is in stakeholder engagement. If law enforcement, for example, understands that this is a huge revenue stream for people and groups involved in other criminal areas like drug trafficking or loan sharking then they need to help us convince governments there’s a social problem.”
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
Tabcorp looks to new technology for cutting-edge betting options Horse racing officials, looking to revitalize the pari-mutuel betting model, are turning to the financial world for technology to enable the development of new and complex bets.
ari-mutuel wagering has long formed the financial backbone of horse racing, but as the sport comes under serious threat from sports betting and illegal bookmaking activities, the popularity of the “totalizator” has waned. Complex technology originally applied to solve liquidity problems in derivative markets may now be the thing that comes to the rescue. In a case of Wall Street meeting the racetrack, New York-based company Longitude’s patented single pool wagering technology, dubbed the “enhanced pari-mutuel system” has now been adopted by Australian wagering giant Tabcorp across its three-state operation. The technology has been in use at the Hong Kong Jockey Club for the past year,
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
“Pari-mutuel remains a significant part of the Tabcorp business – we handle around A$7 billion ($5 billion) per year – but it is a model that hasn’t had a lot of innovation in recent years,” said Doug Freeman, Tabcorp’s executive general manager, commercial development. Liquidity isn’t an issue for the Hong Kong Jockey Club; it boasts the biggest per-race betting handle in the world and last season topped HK$105 million ($13.5 billion) in turnover on racing alone. Still, the Jockey Club has looked to Longitude as a way to spark new interest with the technology’s capabilities of providing new bets like “winning trainer” and “winning region” - eventually the bets could be as varied as imagination of the player allows.
Tabcorp plans to add similar bet types to the new Jockey Club products and even more in time, but first will look to solve the issue of liquidity on the hundreds of markets it fields bets on every day across three codes of racing; thoroughbred, harness and greyhounds. How Longitude works is by aggregating otherwise separate betting pools, usually on one race, but possibly a meeting or even across different fixtures. The Jockey Club started by combining the similar First Four (first four in any order) and Quartet (first four in order) bets – allowing for a more robust pool and creating more customer confidence. “We will be launching new products just like Hong Kong, but there will be some combining of pools – that’s an obvious thing to do,” Freeman said. “Deep liquidity is a key to any pari-mutuel business – you need deeper, larger pools – that enables customers to put larger bets on and not influence the dividends that ultimately come out of that pool. Liquidity is key and if you don’t have it, people will bet less.” The threats to racing’s traditional cash-cow
of pari-mutuel betting haven’t just come from external sources, namely the rapid growth of sports betting over the last two decades, but changing customer preferences and a shift to fixed-odds bets - which are now offered by Tabcorp and provide an ever-increasing segment of revenue. Freeman says meeting the needs of customers with new betting options is now possible on events where previously the small handle made it difficult to create attractive pay-outs. “One of the challenges for us has been to launch new products – but to launch new products you need liquidity,” he said. “Creating instant liquidity in such a big market is not that simple, and the great thing about Longitude is that it can allow us to launch new products in a less risky way.” Tabcorp needs approval from three separate state regulators before rolling out single pool wagering, but is aiming for it to be in use by the Melbourne Spring Carnival in late 2016. While liquidity might be a problem at more minor meetings, during the spring
ONE OF THE CHALLENGES FOR US HAS BEEN TO LAUNCH NEW PRODUCTS BUT TO LAUNCH NEW PRODUCTS YOU NEED LIQUIDITY
carnival public interest, as well as turnover, in the sport is at a peak and that is when Tabcorp hopes to begin using the enhanced pari-mutuel system. Last year the Melbourne Cup meeting at Flemington held A$141.8 million, up 2 percent on the previous year, and it seems Tabcorp is likely to try to leverage that interest with a lotteries-type bet on the “race that stops a nation,” which features 24-runners and spirited betting. “We haven’t got a specific product in mind for that event at this stage, but if you wanted to launch a life-changing dividendtype product, an event like the Melbourne Cup provides the pool sizes, number of runners and level of interest that make that work,” said Freeman, who stressed that gaining customer confidence and explaining the complicated technology to regulators was more of a priority in the short-term. “We want to identify the potential products we could use Longitude for, take them to research – we want to make sure we launch products our customers actually want.” Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
DFS tipped for Australia boom: Can DraftKings top the league? In the wake of DraftKings’ recent UK launch, could the daily fantasy sports (DFS) giant be sizing up Australia as one its next overseas target markets? If so, what challenges and opposition awaits?
ast September, before the commotion surrounding the legality of daily fantasy sports (DFS) in the US, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins participated in a podcast to discuss his startup’s international expansion plans after securing a UK gambling license. In it, Robins described Australia as a “really interesting market,” fueling speculation that the southern hemisphere nation was firmly on DraftKings’ radar. Thus far, nothing concrete has materialized in the run up to and after the much-delayed UK launch in February. But Australia has a lot of appeal. Admittedly, it isn’t a huge market, however it is renowned for being a sports-mad nation, while season-long fantasy sports competitions have been played for almost a quarter of a century.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
The country is home to roughly 23 million people which, in comparison to DraftKings’ home market, falls somewhere between the populations of New York and Texas. Of these, around 1.5 million are thought to play some form of fantasy sports, mainly involving Australian football, rugby league and cricket. Seasonlong fantasy sports began in the early nineties run by newspapers, and while Australian football (AFL) used to dominate fantasy sports, it now accounts for around half the market. Rugby league (NRL) is a clear second, followed by cricket (BBL). Yet despite DFS still being a nascent fantasy sports product, more than half a dozen startups burst on the scene last year offering real-money and free-to-play games.
The largest site by far is Moneyball.com. au with approximately 90 percent of the market, while the likes of Top 8, Fantasy King, Fantasy Games and TradeChamp scrap over the rest. However, the market is set to become considerably more crowded with a handful of new entrants planning to launch in March to coincide with the commencement of the AFL and NRL seasons. It seems no one wants to miss this DFS boat. Paul Montgomery, founder of FanFooty. com.au, the largest independent fantasy content site in Australia, says DFS “has barely begun,” but there’s definitely an audience. “There is an appetite for DFS products in Australia due mostly to annual fantasy having dropped off recently, leaving a group of young men with disposable income who know about fantasy but need something new and exciting to rekindle their interest.” DraftKings offers its US and UK customers traditional American sports, as well as soccer, golf, NASCAR, mixed martial arts and even eSports. Sports like rugby league, cricket and Australian football aren’t currently available, which means the Boston-based outfit would have to build a player base for these sports from scratch in Australia rather than pooling liquidity with the US as was done with the UK launch. Fintan Costello, managing partner at Revenue Engineers, says DraftKings offering DFS cricket makes most sense because of the upside to expand beyond Australia into other countries (laws permitting) where the game is also popular, such as India, South Africa and the UK. Yet he remains sceptical as to Australia’s potential from DraftKings’ perspective. “I can get why Australia is attractive; they are sports mad and there’s a sports culture. [But] of all the places I could target in the world, would Australia be top of the list? Probably not.” Moreover, Costello firmly believes DraftKings should aim to “nail” soccer first by building DFS audiences and game liquidity across Europe and elsewhere before using this a springboard to launch more obscure sports like Australian football and rugby league. “Going outside of the US it has to be a soccer-led product because there’s a huge addressable market for them to target. It’s a no brainer. That gives you the best economies of scale across liquidity and prize pools and it gives you enough traction…soccer is the obvious one to get right first before you go
after the less popular sports.” Part of the reason DFS exploded in the US is due to sports betting being illegal in almost all states. It’s a different story altogether in the UK, with land-based and online gambling being ubiquitous and betting operators having close ties to sport. Likewise, sports betting is legal and widespread in Australia and DFS startups are targeting largely the same customer demographic – young males with disposable incomes.
DFS PROFIT MARGINS ARE FIXED, WHICH IS A BIG PLUS FOR STOCK MARKET-LISTED OPERATORS
FanFooty.com’s Montgomery is convinced that Australian betting operators will soon roll out DFS products and quickly dominate a market that, he says, will become “much larger and more diverse” in 2016. “They already have large databases of local customers, infrastructure on the ground and a lot of brand recognition, so they will start well ahead of DraftKings. Existing DFS operators will become irrelevant because they will not
be able to compete on anywhere near the scale of the gambling giants.” Profit margins on DFS are also superior to sports betting, Montgomery points out. “Average DFS rake is somewhere around 9 percent, where I have been told by Australian operators that single-sport wagering can vary from 7 percent down to 3 percent in some of the more predictable sports. DFS profit margins are fixed, which is a big plus for stock market-listed operators who would prefer consistency for the benefit of investors.” Yet just like online poker, liquidity is akin to oxygen for DFS sites, which DraftKings has in abundance with its core sports. It means that building a solid and loyal user base, as well as a healthy marketing budget, will be key to coming out on top in Australia. Media support is also important, not just advertising but also editorial content. “The ecosystem of the industry needs to be built from the ground up,” Montgomery explains. “We don’t have an ESPN or Yahoo here, or any more than two major newspapers in any major city. Partnering with local heavyweights would be the easiest way to accelerate from zero to 100 – and fast.” In the meantime, the next 12 months are shaping up to be an interesting tussle on the DFS front. Australia is a unique market with some unique tastes in sport, and that doesn’t come without challenges, but the longer DraftKings ponders its entry, the more likely it is the existing operators could become much harder to catch.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
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G2E Asia Marks Decade of Highlighting Promising Global Gaming Industry Prospects Global Gaming Expo Asia, or G2E Asia, is Asia’s leading trade show and conference for the gaming and entertainment industry, based in Macau. This year marks 10 successful editions of delivering magnified value for participants from diverse world regions. With its roots in one of the world’s most energetic gaming markets, G2E Asia is set to leverage the city’s bold reputation as a global gaming hub, as Macau’s pulsating vibrancy helps to drive the show’s impact across Asia, the US and Europe. G2E Asia 2016 will be held from 17 – 19 May 2016 at the Venetian Macao.
aving hosted G2E Asia since the first edition of the show in 2007, G2E Asia and Macau enjoy a special symbiosis that allows each to benefit from the other’s energy and upward mobility. Macau has played a critical role in keeping the global gaming market buoyant and been the perfect location at the heart of Asian gaming for industry professionals to meet and do business with traders and buyers from around the world. The show has also become the largest regional sourcing platform for global gaming / entertainmentrelated products and the place where service suppliers showcase new gaming solutions, meet qualified buyers and establish fresh contacts. Supported by a powerful capacity to convene like-minded industry professionals, the G2E Asia brand has soared in terms of recognition and trust within the Asian gaming industry, a feat achieved thanks to aspects like exclusive UFI approval; record-breaking numbers of participants;
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
a significant impact on inbound tourism to Macau; consistent celebration of best-in-class Asian gaming professionals through the G2E Asia Visionary Award and its ability to attract the highest level speakers to successive editions of the show. 10 Years of Accelerating New Product Development and Linking Gaming Industry Global Gaming Expo Asia (G2E Asia) debuted in Macau in May 2007. Thanks to strong support from the Macau government and the gaming industry, the show quickly emerged as the biggest trade event in Asian gaming entertainment. Today, the event has established a powerful reputation as the optimal business hub for Asian gaming industry professionals to convene, network, establish contacts and conduct business. The show has tripled in size since its launch, distinguishing itself today as the largest event of its kind in Asia.
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Aruze Gaming is a global entertainment company that designs, develops, and manufactures slot machines and gaming devices. We’re passionate innovators, we build strong relationships based on trust, and we put bringing enjoyment to gamers at the heart of our work. We want to enhance the Aruze brand and showcase new products to a wide variety of customers, old and new. G2E Asia was the first major gaming show held in Macau in 2007. Aruze has taken part since then because the event is a powerful channel via which to get the word out about our brand, corporate vision and products. Also, the networking opportunities onsite are crucial. Over the years, we’ve forged new partnerships and strengthened long-standing relationships with visitors from across Asia, the Americas and Europe. The booth build-up and teardown process is always memorable. We innovated this process in 2015 and the impact on results made the extra effort well worth it. Another thrilling highlight has been when big customers purchase all our show machines onsite. That has happened a few times. Certainly, Aruze is loyal to G2E Asia. We are looking forward to the show expanding to attract a greater number of visitors from more diverse regions and gaming segments. London’s ICE show is a great benchmark for G2E Asia.
UFI Approval Sets G2E Asia Head and Shoulders Above Competition It is not just the show’s organizers and participants who believe in the event’s value. G2E Asia is the only UFI-approved gaming exhibitions in Asia. As part of UFI’s exclusive stable of approved events worldwide, the show has confirmed quality by an esteemed industry body. The endorsement by the global association of the exhibition industry assures exhibitors and visitors, particularly those considering taking part in the event for the first time, that in doing so they are making a sound business investment. Leading Gaming Industry Experts Enhance G2E Asia Conference Offerings Excitement at G2E Asia 2016 is not just around the exhibits and meetings, it is also about the series of complementary, informative seminars that keep the gaming community up-to-date with new market developments. The concurrently running G2E Asia Conference provides the most comprehensive gaming education in Asia. Content is developed by leading gaming experts, guaranteeing participants access to authentic, up-to-date information. In addition to keynote addresses by Pansy Ho, Co-chair & Executive Director of MGM China Holdings Limited and Francis Lui, Deputy
Albert Yu, General Manager Aruze Gaming Macau Limited
Interblock is a world-leading developer and supplier of luxury electronic table gaming products. Our multi-player gaming devices provide the ultimate in luxury interactive entertainment, as well as superior product performance, and an unforgettable gaming experience. Interblock has grown across Asia-Pacific, thanks to a keen focus on providing a traditional table experience through premium, fast-paced, secure gaming devices. G2E Asia is integral to our connection with reach key customers in Asia Pacific. At the show, we feature newly developed products and gather insights into how better to support customer needs. It’s a great way to highlight our product value and our commitment to delivering products that support our customers’ operations and growth. It is also a strong platform on which to discuss the industry’s first Electronic Table Game player research commissioned by Interblock G2E Asia is always exciting for Interblock. Asian markets, the ultimate for table games, have been extremely receptive to our line of luxury electronic table games that give players a new way to enjoy their favorite games. Interblock’s strong reputation is down to consistency in providing unique, high performing, luxury gaming experiences. We’re a market leader, with thousands of units of games installed in Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Macau and Vietnam. The company’s continued growth is linked to the future of G2E Asia.
Cameron Louis, Senior Vice President Interblock Asia Pacific Pty Ltd
For 26 years, Gaming Laboratories International (GLI®) has delivered land-based, lottery and iGaming testing and consulting to over 475 jurisdictions all over the world. By offering so much more than just testing, we have become a trusted partner for many regulators, suppliers and operators. G2E Asia is one of the most important events for the region’s gaming industry, and GLI is proud to present value-added and award-winning tools, like patented GLI Link® and Point.Click.Transfer.℠, which are proven to reduce testing times and costs and speed time to market. Point.Click.Transfer.℠ is an awardwinning service within GLI Access®, the password-protected back-end of GLI’s website and central hub of information for regulators and suppliers around the world. Part of our mission at the show is to help our clients understand the new technologies and how they might impact various jurisdictions. GLI has been working in the region since 2007, and we are grateful for opportunity to provide services, knowledge and expertise. In order to share our knowledge, GLI also offers GLI University®, a continuing education program that helps ensure regulators everywhere have the most up-to-date information available. For more information about GLI, please visit www.gaminglabs.com or contact your Client Services Representative today.
Marina Wong, General Manager Client Services, GLI Asia Limited Gaming Laboratories International
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
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Chairman of Galaxy Entertainment Group, other CEOs, CFOs, COOs of major operators and International Casino Institutes have all spoken at previous editions of the event, sharing gaming updates from all existing and emerging markets across the region. Celebrating Achievement Within the Gaming Industry The G2E Asia Visionary Award, first held in 2008, recognizes individuals whose work has significantly contributed to the overall success of Asia’s gaming-entertainment industry. In its inaugural edition, the honor was given to Genting Group Founder Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong. Subsequent winners have been Dr. Stanley Ho (2009); Mr. Len Ainsworth (2010), Executive Chairman, Ainsworth Gaming Technology, and Mr. Sheldon Adelson, Chairman of the board and Chief Executive Officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp (2011). Local and International Gaming Industry Reaps Value Through G2E Asia Platform Gaming industry professionals from Macau and around the world come to G2E Asia to learn new industry information, experience fresh show elements and discover cutting edge gaming products. Over the years, Macau has established itself as a resilient and robust gaming market that never stops innovating. G2E Asia has expertly leveraged this unique energy to raise the profile of Macau gaming on the international stage. Today, thanks to the show, Macau is the heart of Asian gaming and gathering of gaming research institute and university, as well as state-of-the-art gaming techniques. It is also the best place to learn about developments in local, regional and international gaming industry regulations.
Boom for Macau Business Tourism Thanks to G2E Asia The thus far largest G2E Asia, held from May 19 to May 21, 2015, attracted numerous business tourists to Macau, generating inbound tourism to a number of industries, including hotels, F & B, entertainment and transportation. This contribution to the Macau MICE industry, was valued at approx. 15,000 hotel room nights during the show week, a number that could well be exceeded in 2016. Record-Breaking G2E Asia 2015 Sets Up 2016 Show to Scale New Heights Last year’s edition of G2E Asia was a 3-day trade exhibition packed with insightful conferences, interactive networking events and one-to-one business meetings. A total of 70% of the visitors were international, representing 79 countries, including South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Cambodia and Thailand. G2E Asia 2015 also featured a total of 679 Targeted Attendee Program (TAP) attendees. A further 59 pre-arranged business meetings were held onsite, generating a total business volume exceeding HKD 36 million. At the 2015 show, over 161 exhibiting companies, more than ever before, showcased new products and services to visitors from commercial casinos, integrated resorts, cruise ships, lottery, investment firms and the iGaming industry. The exhibitors were impressed with being able to meet face to face with current partners and meet prospective customers. Numerous exhibitors also complimented G2E Asia on its tremendous maturity and ability to attract legitimate industry heavyweights to deliver keynotes, while also offering numerous opportunities to learn and discover the innovations at the cutting edge of gaming. For more information on G2E Asia 2016, visit www.g2easia.com.
TCSJOHNHUXLEY is a worldleading manufacturer and supplier of end-to-end live gaming solutions and services. Our portfolio underpins our commitment to business partnerships, innovation and growth. Our teams, based in strategically located offices worldwide, drive research and development, and focus the product direction. G2E Asia is always important for us to sustain a strong presence in Asia by showcasing new offerings, delivering solution-based products that grow our customers’ businesses, and allowing us to meet with existing customers, while making new contacts with potential partners. TCSJOHNHUXLEY has supported G2E Asia since its inception and we’ve seen it grow into one of the main events in the trade show calendar. As the show has expanded, so too has the industry and our business. It’s an important platform for us to launch new products to the Asian market, as the show brings together all key industry operators under one roof. At G2E Asia 2015, we were the main sponsor and lead supplier of the first All Asia Dealer Championship. We were extremely proud to support this fantastic event. The prize-giving ceremony stirred a great sense of accomplishment and pride among the winners and audience. We hope G2E Asia will continue to grow and enhance its reputation as a premier industry event. Rebecca Kingswell, Managing Director APAC TCSJOHNHUXLEY
Every year, G2E Asia is an incredible opportunity for us to give casino fans around the world sensations of fun and excitement. Sega Sammy Creation Inc. made its debut at G2E Asia 2014, and we will continue to exhibit at G2E Asia to help us show off the truly exciting games that casino fans are looking for. Please look forward to our games!
Hisao Oguchi, President & CEO SEGA SAMMY CREATION INC.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
RGB is a leading gaming equipment manufacturer, distributor and concession provider specializing in providing ultimate recreational gaming experiences. We operate in Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, Macau, Phillippines, Timor-Leste and Nepal, with over 8,000 RGB machines operating throughout different regions today. Every year, the G2E Asia show floor is a great place to seek collaborations and develop profitable partnerships. The show is truly a one-stop shop for the gaming industry, which is important, because being able to meet with operators from different regions is key for us. We have many ongoing, successful projects initiated thanks to years of participating in the show, which has also played a key role in helping RGB gain recognition as a leading gaming brand. In the future, as more products and business models emerge, being able to highlight specific RGB offerings to customers will become increasingly crucial. G2E Asia’s business matching helps manufacturers efficiently launch new products. The show could expand beyond Macau by partnering with different co-hosts around the region. To encourage innovation, G2E Asia could create an Inventor’s Award for new table games, ETG or EGM. Winners could be rewarded with their creations being trialed in different casinos. Such a move would greatly enhance the gaming experience on casino floors of the future. Datuk Steven Lim, Chief Operating Officer RGB Games Ltd.
Jumbo Group is one of the largest distributor and professional casino supplier in Taiwan. Jumbo provides completed one stop solution includes: the company’s line up of products as slot, multiplayer sic-bio, roulette, video baccarat, management system, and operation. Each year, Jumbo is exciting and vibrating to share the latest products in G2E gaming show. G2E is the world greatest networking platform which connecting to worldwide and business opportunities. Jumbo is honorable to join G2E this year again and we will present the whole new different visual to you.
Paul Wu, Sales Director Jumbo Technology,
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Scientific Games Corporation is a leading developer of technology-based products, services and content for the global gaming, lottery and interactive markets. We offer a diverse portfolio of gaming technology solutions designed for Asian players. As a global supplier for casino gaming equipment and technologies, we consistently choose G2E Asia to promote the industry-leading Bally, Shuffle Master and WMS brands. The show has an unparalleled ability to leverage proven product brands and cutting-edge technology solutions that benefit customers and help businesses grow. At G2E Asia, the region’s largest gaming trade show, we showcase innovations like the award-winning Duo Fu Duo Cai, as well as our latest progressive link Da Fu Da Gui. The four-level progressive link, Duo Fu Duo Cai, launched at G2E Asia 2012, has taken Asian slot floors by storm. Da Fu Da Gui, the latest progressive link, was also very well received by customers at G2E Asia 2015. Years of exhibiting at G2E Asia have produced many highlights, among them the opportunity to meet and network with industry leaders. Our CEO has presented at the G2E Asia conference, and we’ve launched numerous new products on the show floor. Going forward, G2E Asia will continue to be a staple in our yearly marketing plan. For more information, please visit www.scientificgames.com.
Ken Jolly, VP & Managing Director - Asia Scientific Games Corporation
Aristocrat is one of the world’s leading suppliers of slot games, casino management system solutions, and social gaming. The company is licensed in 240 gaming jurisdictions and operates in 90 countries, backed by a global team of more than 3,000 dedicated and passionate employees. We are committed to the gaming industry across the Asia Pacific region, and G2E Asia is a fine place to meet with existing, new, and potential customers. G2E Asia continues to hold its place as one of the world’s most important tradeshows and provides Aristocrat with a solid platform to meet with customers, to really listen and understand their needs, and to show our products to help our customers make the big play with their consumers. We have supported G2E Asia in the past and will continue to do so in the future. This is because the show provides Aristocrat with a solid platform to showcase our latest innovative products to the industry in an environment that draws the industry together from the APAC region and around the world in one exciting place for three essential days of exhibiting, networking, and learning.
Miguel Choi, Regional Marketing Manager - Asia Pacific Aristocrat (Macau) Pty Ltd.
IGT (NYSE: IGT) is the global leader in gaming. We enable players to experience their favourite games across all channels and regulated segments, from Gaming Machines and Lotteries to Interactive and Social Gaming. IGT’s global experience complements our laser-focus on Asia. Our long-term commitment has always been underlined with a dominant presence at every G2E Asia. G2E Asia enables us to reach deep into the Asian market creating connections and helping drive business with all operators across the different countries in Asia. It has become an annual focal point for all suppliers and operators, creating the best opportunity to showcase our latest Asia focused games and our comprehensive systems offerings. At G2E Asia, we present a portfolio that speaks volumes about our Customer First focus and our commitment to the success and growth of the Asia-Pacific market. This year we have more links, more games and more exciting systems offerings than ever before, all designed around Asian operators’ needs and players’ demands. IGT has approximately $6 billion in revenues and more than 13,000 employees. For more information, please visit www.igt.com.
Mark Michalko, Sales Director - Asia IGT Asia
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
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Asia’s leading online casino, betting and mobile gaming event iGaming Asia Congress 2016 takes place from Mar. 21 - 23, 2016, attracting over 330+ of Asia’s leading sports betting, online casino, lottery, social and mobile gaming executives to learn about the latest developments in industry, incoming regulations and disruptions, as well as strategies to stay ahead of the curve in Asia.
rganized by Hong Kong-based Beacon Events, the iGaming Asia Congress is the only igaming-focused conference in Asia. It is a must-attend industry event for iGaming operators in Asia and the world. Attendees will be able to meet with executives from the Asian gaming industry - where nearly 70% of the audience came from the Asia Pacific region over their previous events. The conference features a high level programme put together with the help of an advisory board made up of igaming leaders in Asia. From the numerous conference sessions, attendees will find out which jurisdictions have the most potential and determine strategy for entering and succeeding in those markets. One of iGA’s key features for 2016 includes a full day that delves into the latest developments in mobile, as well as sessions dedicated to innovations in that industry. As many of today’s igaming advancements revolve around mobile offerings, sessions will cover issues such as rates
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
of mobile penetration in Asia, the appetite for Western mobile games in Asia, social casino & skill games in Asia and much more. Networking opportunities Delegates will also be able to meet content and distribution partners who have the networks to access huge gaming and betting markets in Asia. A perfect opportunity for this, apart from the numerous networking sessions throughout the event, is on the night of the iGA’s second conference day, where attendees will unwind and network at the Official Beer Garden sponsored by Betsoft Gaming, followed by the IGA Official Poker Tournament. Alvin Bol, conference director of the iGaming Asia Congress said the show was a hotspot for Asia igaming leaders. “Our event is the best place to network with online gaming executives in Asia. If you’re looking for new opportunities in Asia, this is where you will want to be.”
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iGaming Asia Congress 21 - 23 March 2016 | Grand Hyatt Macau
The leading conference + exhibition for the Asian igaming industry
iGaming operators, vendors and industry professionals in Asia
50+ 40+ 12+
Presentations, Debates and Discussions
Sponsors & exhibitors
Hours of formal and informal networking
www.igamingasiacongress.com Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT 46 ADVANTECH
Cementing new business for 2016
CE 2016 trade show provided a great venue for Advantech-Innocore to find new opportunities, introduce products to new and existing customers and even cement some significant new business contracts for 2016. This year, Advantech showcased the largest number of new products that the company has ever brought to the London show. Two brand new board level products (DPX-S440, DPX-E250) and two system level products (DPX-E135 and DPX-S2440) were introduced. Apart from these, the supplier also showcased a broad selection of its other products that are applicable to the gaming industry. Products included industrial LCD touchscreen monitors with innovations
such as bezel-less touchscreens, high brightness, remote management, vandal proof features and new curved screen models. And alongside the industrial flash (SQF) product line, Advantech also displayed industrial motherboards in many formats such as COM Express, Mini-ITX, Q7 and including CPU technologies from Intel, AMD and ARM (RISC). The most interest from visitors was focused on the new gaming platforms, curved LCDs and bezel-less touchscreens. The products showcased specifically for Europe were the DPX-E130, a complete platform tailored for the Italian market, and the DPX-E135 targeting low cost markets.
A Reel Deal
insworth emphasized its A560SL cabinet at this year’s ICE tradeshow, which features a striking 32” high definition display, 19” LCD topper option for jackpot promotion, unique attract lighting stylized to each game, premium sound experience and breathtaking animations. The highly successful and popular Sweet Zone brand was also on display including player favorites Rumble Rumble, Jumbo Wilds and the debut of the brand new Sweet Zone title Grand Lions. Another highly anticipated brand unveiled at ICE was Double Sweet Zone. Launching with three entertaining Order of the Dragon titles, Double Sweet Zone offers players the option to play the original ‘Sweet Zone’ for 50 credits or the ‘Double Sweet Zone’ for 50 credits plus 50 credit ante-bet. Sky High Stacks also debuted at the show. This entertaining series of games contain a free games feature with an expanded 9 x 5 game array, increased wild multipliers and all symbols are stacked during the feature. Other A560SL products featured at ICE 2016 included the recently released Fire$torm, 5 Mega 7’s - Fruit and Quad Shot titles Gold Zone, Golden Lion and Mighty Panther will also be introduced on the A560SL cabinet. Ainsworth released a solid and exciting line up of themes for the core GamePlus library including new titles in the Play 100 Lines/Play 50 Lines/Play 40 Lines, Double Hit, High Denom and Quad Shot products. Attendees also had a chance to view new brands – Thunder Hits, Ultimate Choice, Ultimate Gold and the new link progressive Thunder Wilds. Ainsworth revealed their vast range of phenomenal Multi-Game packages: Multi Win 6 – Multi Win 15 which includes an exciting array of games from Ainsworth’s spectacular GamePlus collection.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
The new DPX- S440 saw its debut at the ICE show offering excellent graphics and video decoding from the integrated AMD R-Series SOC APU (formerly Merlin Falcon) on up to three screens. For more demanding applications the product also includes a standard PCI-Express graphics expansion slot so customers can integrate a high performance discrete graphics card to reach higher levels of performance. Advantech can also supply a wide range of long lifecycle high performance graphics cards which can be preinstalled in their systems.
Alfastreet’s Wet Race a hit
his year’s edition of the London ICE show marked a successful opening to the 2016 exhibition season for Alfastreet. Alfastreet brought a selection of top products with novelties prepared specially for the exhibition. The roulette range was represented by the compact R5, 5-station machine, a custom solution for all the venues with limited space availability. Alfastreet’s signature model still remains the R8, this time with an imposing superstructure signage, displaying live camera feed, statistic data and a specially designed roulette Jackpot solution. The visitors were also intrigued by the multigame slot range in two editions, the first being a virtual games package, with a selection of premium Alfastreet virtual games, followed by a near completed 12 titles slot machines. Last year’s star of the show, the mechanical horse-racing machine captured the interest of many. This year’s attraction was the Alfastreet “Wet Race”. It was the most popular product, making people wonder how it’s possible to combine a pool full of water with the electronic nature of the machine. Another interesting concept at the show was the “Alibi box”. A phone box shaped cabin that provides a quiet, reserved space inside a crowded and noisy environment, giving a bit of privacy for delicate phone conversations and many other things. The 2015 ICE show marked a very successful year for the company. Alfastreet is already planning the next big surprises for 2017.
SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT 47 ARISTOCRAT
Aristocrat’s Big Play
ristocrat Technologies brought their Big Play display to ICE Totally Gaming 2016. James Boje, Managing Director – EMEA, remarked that operators were enthusiastic to learn about Aristocrat’s new range of cabinets and games. “We are delighted with the response shown towards our entire portfolio, which incorporates innovative products for every segment of a gaming floor, regardless of size, location or player preference,” said Boje. Key attractions amongst Aristocrat’s new collection for EMEA drawing the crowds at ICE were the Game of Thrones Slot Game on the multi-award winning Arc Double cabinet; the revolutionary linked progressive with player-selectable denomination, Lightning Link; a swathe of new games for the incoming Arc Single cabinet with curved portrait display; the colossal two-player Behemoth cabinet with an 84-inch HD display; and an inspired collection of new game themes and mechanics across Aristocrat’s C*Series, J*Series, E*Series and broadly expanded M*Series standalone gaming segments. “Whilst many visitors were initially drawn in by big licensed themes such as Game of Thrones, Britney Spears, The Walking Dead, The Big Bang Theory and Batman,” Boje continued, “They were equally impressed by our fully rounded array of proprietary links and standalone games that constitute a comprehensive lineup of gaming entertainment. Boje concluded, “Aristocrat’s range across EMEA continues to grow at an exciting pace as we offer our customers a vast wealth of games from a proven and successful global portfolio. Feedback on The Big Play collection at ICE has been overwhelmingly positive, reinforcing our on-going commitment to our customers in the region.”
Virtual Roulette makes a debut
ruze Gaming showcased their latest games and products at ICE 2016, attracting people by the masses to play their top games. Aruze Gaming debuted products such as Virtual Roulette, The Cube-X Ultimate cabinet, The Jungle Cash Series, and more. The all-new HD Projection Roulette feature captivated everyone who attended this year. This HD projection allows players to interact by shooting the ball, while simultaneously taking part in a Progressive Jackpot side game. Additionally, the recently released Cube-X Ultimate cabinet, with two featured titles of Bags of Cash and The Gold Legend, was popular with audiences. These cabinets’ physical reels are lit with vibrant colors and the 999.9 Gold Wheel iconic toppers. The Jungle Cash Series is the first linked progressive on the Cube-X Video platform for the proven Ultra Stack Series. This series is brought to life with the following themes: Ultra Stack Beauty in the Wild, Ultra Stack Big 5, and Ultra Stack Bison II.
Ultra Stack Beauty in the Wild received a generous amount of praise for its visuals and gameplay while Ultra Stack Bison II gave everyone the freedom and adventure of the open land with the dangers of wild animals. Last but not least, Ultra Stack Big 5 was admired for its journey, and not to mention the interesting guests each person runs into while playing. The player starts on a treacherous hike through the African Savannas coming across the beasts of the land: The Lion, TheRhino,The Buffalo, The Elephant, and The Cheetah.
Set for further growth
sia Gaming, provider of Live Casino solutions in Asia, appeared at ICE Totally Gaming in 2016 says it is set for further growth. The company, which hopes to release a number of new games this year, saw high levels of interest in its updated live casino product and brand new range of slot games at the exhibition. Asia Gaming, which was presenting at ICE Totally Gaming for the second time, will now focus on working with existing customers, and new clients that it attracted at London’s ExCel, to roll out its market-leading products both in Asian markets and among operators that service Asian players around the world. Kelvin Chiu, sales director for Asia Gaming, said: “We were so honoured to be exhibiting at ICE Totally Gaming and so glad that the thousands of attendees had the chance to see our products.” “Asia is without question the fastest growing online gambling market in the world. ‘Gaming the Asian Way’ is what we believe should be the strategy for all operators who want to boost their revenues by giving Asian gamers what they really like and are used to playing.”
As well as focusing on its flagship Live Casino product, Asia Gaming said it will also cater for the increasing popularity of slots among Asian players by releasing a number of new third-party slot games via its RNG partner, XIN Gaming. Chiu added: “This year, we will be adding new features to further enhance the interaction and mobility in our most popular game Live Casino. Our players will now be able to communicate with dealers directly on their mobile devices anytime, anywhere.” “Our new slots will have great appeal in this growing sector and will attract new customers for operators.”
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT 48 BMM
European companies looking for growth
MM brought together experienced staff from around the world to offer advice and assistance on compliance, certification, testing and training services during ICE in London this year. “We find this is invaluable for both existing customers as well as new customers, as we are able to provide a range of knowledge and experience on land-based, online and social gaming, across all globally regulated regions,” said the company in an interview recently. BMM says this year they are focusing on providing more resources to deliver product certifications quicker, assisting our customers with their critical time-to-market requirements. When asked of BMM’s milestones of the
last few months, the company said December was a record month in Austria and South Africa. BMM also recently entered into a partnership with ISTQB, a highly credited global testing certification body. “This partnership ensures that BMM’s engineers in all regions are trained, educated and certified to the highest industry standards,” said the company. Given the fast growing market in Europe, BMM said it was going to keep a focus on the European gambling market. “As we have seen recently, Europe is an incredibly fast growing and developing market with many countries already regulated, and potentially more on the way, as governments
look at the benefits from regulating their gaming industries. With BMM’s global licensing coverage expanding every month we are truly now able to provide a pathway for European companies looking for opportunities for growth and to transfer products to the US, and international markets.”
Latest roulette innovations
oulette wheel manufacturer Cammegh enjoyed another successful show at this year’s ICE exhibition. Cammegh was able to show off their latest roulette innovations with the impressive
Aurora Halo wheel, complemented by the new slim line billboard displays with LED strips. The Aurora Halo Wheel takes advantage of the Mercury 360 in-rim sensor technology to produce a dazzling display of LED lighting which tracks the ball to ramp up excitement at the gaming table. Cammegh’s new ‘2016’ line of billboard displays now come in a slim-line design and feature customisable RGB LED strips to enhance the ambience of the gaming floor. Sharing the limelight at ICE was Cammegh’s unique roulette side bet, Spread Bet Roulette. The side bet, launched last year, offers jackpot style payouts of up to 1200-1 and has so far been
installed throughout the UK in Grosvenor, Aspers and Aspinalls casinos, as well as in South Africa. Andrew Cammegh, Sales Director at Cammegh said: “As ever the ICE show was worthwhile as always. The response from operators to the new display hardware, as well as the new Aurora Halo roulette wheel, which was also making its debut has been excellent. During the three days we managed to see everyone we wanted to see going into the show plus a host of new operators from other territories around the world. This allowed us not only to establish interesting new enquires but also take orders off the stand.”
natural vision range dressed with the newest collection of the multi-game Gamopolis series. Casino Technology’s best selling package was the Aurora Upright Slot Machine, equipped with the multigame series Gamopolis, presented with the latest versions of Speedway, and introduced with the newest gaming platform, Armstrong. The slot machine features HD graphics design and enhanced gameplay speed. Casino Technology also demonstrated the fully executed convergence environment through the system suite “The Big 5”, which combines the Rhino Casino Management System, Buffalo
Universal Jackpot Server, Leopard Online Gaming Platform, Elephant Remote Game Server and Lion Money Management System.
Setting new standards
ustomers, visitors and guests from around the world gathered around Casino Technology’s stand at Ice Totally Gaming 2016 in London. Hundreds of customers were fascinated with the Hot Rod Slot Machine – an authentic red vintage car blended with the one and only Arch Slot Machine. The idea to offer an immersive gaming experience using a curved full HD display was introduced by Casino Technology back in 2013 had been developed into the brilliant and first of a kind Arch slot machine, which features a 42’’ horizontal, curved, gaming LED display covering the
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT 49 COLUSSUS BETS
$10 million Colossus arrives in Asia
dding to extensive distribution for their lotto-sized sports pools in Europe, Australia and most recently Africa, Colossus Bets today announced the launch of the first operator to go live offering ‘Colossus Football Lottery’ in Asia through its regional partner ONEWorks. Headlined by the weekly $10,000,000 Colossus, a further series of ONEworks’ licensees will go-live in the coming months, following this week’s release of a flagship licensee, with the world’s biggest sports jackpots for their Asian customer bases. Bernard Marantelli, CEO of Colossus Bets, said: “Adding the power base of ONEworks is an important milestone for Colossus Bets. ONEworks’ extensive list of Asian licensees will help drive growth into our pools and our momentum as a company.” “Life changing jackpots on top-tier football with leg-by-leg cash-out is quickly becoming an essential component for any operator seeking to provide its players with the full suite of gaming products. ONEworks is Asia’s leading provider of sportsbook software services and the addition of our football jackpots to their platform will help cement ONEworks’ position as a one stop shop.” While the ONEworks release in Asia has been in production for many months, this news follows a flurry of B2B activity that has seen Colossus Bets contract with eight new partners in the four weeks since ICE. Separately the firm is focusing on the arrival of three major new operators who are scheduled to be live with its pools in time for the Euro 2016 tournament where Colossus Bets will offer over $70,000,000 of guaranteed pools on that tournament alone. With rapidly increasing distribution across the globe, Colossus is edging towards its goal of offering a $40,000,000+ pool and becoming the EuroMillions for sports betting.
From ICE to IGA
CE Totally Gaming was a great success for Comtrade Gaming, exhibiting for the eighth time this year. Their red-white booth was packed with people. Comtrade General Manager, Aleš Gornjec was thrilled with the turnout. “The show was a great success and the busiest so far. The number of visitors exceeded our expectations, which once again proved that our credibility in the marketplace has improved considerably,” said Gornjec. “We received very positive feedback from all of our visitors and the areas dedicated to online and mobile were especially busy. We would like to thank everybody who visited our booth and we look forward to our continued relationships with many.” Comtrade used the ICE event as an opportunity to showcase the latest version of their Enterprise Gaming Platform – iCore 2.0. This version features further extended, real-time bonusing functionality, and is sustainable for the most traffic-intensive sites. It also includes a new Award Games suite, offering a gamification of player bonuses. Comtrade will soon be attending the iGaming Asia Congress in Macau, where director of Interactive, Steven Valentine will be a guest speaker at the Panel: Using Next Generation Technology To Progress Asia’s Online Casino Market. The debate will take place on Mar. 23, at 10:30am. Asia is one of the biggest markets for Comtrade Gaming. Comtrade has recently announced a major deal with Dafabet selecting iCore as their back end platform and further announced many high-profile Asian specific content integrations. To support its Asian operations, Comtrade has recently opened an office in Manila.
t ICE 2016, luxury gaming manufacturer Interblock demonstrated the scalability and flexibility of their products, including its revolutionary ‘Pulse Arena’. The company raised the bar even higher at this year’s exhibition and drew impressive feedback from customers. Interblock Global CEO John Connelly said, “Our products, especially the Pulse Arena, were very well received due to the enhancements made, driven by our customers’ feedback.” The company showcased their flagship Diamond products, equipped with their latest side bets, enhanced player information displays and functionality; the new MiniStar String,
composed of three play stations, which can be placed in a remote location and connect easily to existing MiniStar Roulette products; and its impressive StarBar, a multi-play/multigame product that allows players to toggle quickly between traditional table and video poker games, giving players the opportunity to play up to 18 different games at one time. The company’s goals for 2016 are to maintain its position as thought-leader in the Electronic Table Game (ETG) industry and remain its customers’ ultimate partner. Interblock will also introduce a product segmentation strategy in 2016,
with the goal of allowing all operators to place Interblock product on their floor; unveil new, innovative technology designed to enhance the player experience; and bring a new level of entertainment to the Electronic Table Game (ETG) segment.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT 50 KONAMI
Concerto garners enthusiasm
onami Gaming Inc.’s new Concerto video slot garnered enthusiasm and excitement from international casino operators during this year’s ICE Totally Gaming show on Feb. 2 – 4. Guests saw original Concerto debut themes such as Chili Chili Fire and Dragon’s Law Twin Fever displayed on one of the largest screens available for standard upright machines - complete with HD resolution, enhanced sound, and a video LCD button panel. This year’s ICE show also marked the international release of Konami’s Dungeons & Dragons themed slot machines, with a variety of custom merchandising options to showcase the popular adventure game. In addition, guests were able to play the world’s first Frogger themed slot machine, based upon the arcade favorite. However, Concerto was definitely the focus point for Konami at ICE 2016. Developed with
intent focus on customer experience and entertainment value, this video upright cabinet delivers gaming content that is designed to attract patrons from every angle. Its signature holographic side lighting serves as one of Concerto’s most striking features. Each game has custom-designed digital elements that visually interact, from the dual 27” high-definition touchscreen monitors to the 19.5” video topper, and down through the proprietary new DynamicDash button panel—all of which is made possible by Konami’s new KP3+ platform. Concerto additionally supports compatibility with most KP3 platform proven performers such as Dragon’s Law and China Shores.
Novomatic presents omni-channel offerings
he Novomatic booth covered all aspects of gaming with a spectacular omni-channel offering during ICE 2016. The collaborative R&D efforts within the Austrian gaming group and its international subsidiaries and competence centres were presented in London. A casino section demonstrated the ‘VIP Experience’ with new cabinets, themes, jackpots and the ACP system by Octavian, as well as Crown Technologies’ cash management solutions. An extensive lineup of arcade and pub products for international markets was on show by LÖWEN Entertainment and Crown Technologies of Germany, NOVOMATIC Italia, NOVOMATIC Gaming Spain and Novo Gaming Netherlands. Another significant part of the stand was dedicated to ‘Omni-channel Sports Betting and Lottery’ products, as well as a standout online, mobile and social gaming display. An important headliner for Novomatic this year was the extended V.I.P. cabinet line-up. Due to the overwhelming success of the NOVOSTAR
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
V.I.P. II since its introduction at ICE last year, Novomatic launched four new cabinets at ICE 2016 - NOVOSTAR V.I.P. III, NOVOSTAR V.I.P. Royal, the V.I.P. Lounge and the new slant top EXECUTIVE SL. The Novomatic omni-channel offering was spearheaded by the new Football Gladiators game. Brand ambassador of the game Rio Ferdinand, Manchester Utd and English football legend appeared at ICE and drew large crowds of fans. This special highlight was broadcast via the omnipresent video content delivery system, Absolute Vision. Key members of the Novomatic Sports Betting Solutions team were also on hand to discuss the available solutions for the management of an unlimited number of self-service terminals and tills in the land-based segment, as well as a secure online and mobile sports betting solutions. The team of Novomatic Lottery Solutions showcased the superior offering of premium technology solutions for the international B2B lottery industry.
Future roadmaps and opportunities
aming laboratory NMi attended ICE Totally Gaming 2016 in London with a new stand and a larger footprint this year, celebrating an unprecedented year of growth. During ICE 2016 NMi met with clients and regulators to discuss the future roadmaps and opportunities that new technology and new jurisdictions will bring for 2016. With a focus on emerging hot markets including Colombia, Mexico, Poland and Portugal, NMi says it looks forward to opportunities ahead for both current and new customers, and has already seen an increase in enquiries relating to emerging markets for both new and existing clients. Andrew Rosewarne, NMi’s gaming division director said: “This year’s ICE was exceptional for NMi. An exciting and innovative event that never fails to deliver an interesting array of new customers, products and emerging technologies”. Julian Borg-Barthet, NMi’s gaming division business development manager said: “It was a very exciting and successful ICE this year, probably our best ever... Our ambitions for 2016 are strong and focused on new jurisdictions with Romania and Lithuania demonstrating focus on the Eastern European market… We look forward to continuing to establish partnerships with many of the biggest players in gaming worldwide, while maintaining the highest standards in all the markets we serve”. NMi offers services that include RNG, gaming system and game testing including VLT, lottery, iGaming, mobile, social gaming, live dealer, retail and casino auditing, RTP monitoring, change management, security auditing and PCI-DSS services, across multiple jurisdictions worldwide.
SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT 51 SBTECH
Asian facing solutions
BTech’s unique understanding of the Asian market and notable risk management capabilities has allowed the company to enter Asia with a full Asian facing solution including a vast number of localized products. SBTech has successfully developed a powerful Sportsbook solution localized specifically for the Asian market, focused on catering to the Asian punter preferences and the specific market requirements. The company’s comprehension of local player demographics and market requirements plus a vast portfolio of innovative products enables operators to offer an impressive and localized Asian market facing sportsbook via a single sign-on, providing a seamless online gaming experience across online and mobile channels. The intelligent Asian facing Sportsbook includes an advanced 6-tier agent and network
management system, flexible odds pricing, discount groups, payout controls and full suite of back-office tools, allowing networks to manage their own risk and profit according to their needs. SBTech’s Asian System Solution is available in all Asian languages (including sports teams’ names) and features Asian handicap, over/ under and Parlay/Combo betting options, competitive Asian payouts and various Asian odds types (Hong Kong, Malay and Indo). The full accessory suite fits all operational needs in Asia, proving highly successful results. The Asian facing sportsbook is designed with the same features and products as SBTech’s European sportsbook. Both the Asian and Europeans sportsbook offer over 25,000 monthly live sports events, Fast Markets (one/ five minute bets), over 2,000 proprietary bet types, immediate bet settlements, pre-match
Spintec automates live games
pintec showcased its automated Sic Bo, virtual Baccarat and multigame solutions which combined a number of games and technologies at the same time during ICE 2016. “ICE 2016 proved that automation of all live games combined with a unique R&D approach has been the right step for Spintec,” said Igor Lombar, the CEO of Spintec. With Spintec’s promise of longer gaming sessions, in-house R&D department focused on analyzing customer‘s needs and gaming habits, the company did profound technical studies and took into account demands and requirements of casino operators to form a strong basis of new products. Spin tech said different features meet different requirements for certain target groups. For example, proprietary mechanics integrated in the Karma Automated Sic Bo considerably decreases the possibility of the annulment of the outcome by eliminating the situations where the dice is placed on top of each
other or over the border. The most important outcome of this innovation is the increased number of valid outcomes per hour, which directly translates into player satisfaction and more income for the casino. The first feature that attracts the players of Karma Virtual Baccarat is HD live footage of different attractive croupiers. One of the features that increase excitement and drama for the player is a peek scanner that shows the card only partially when the card is drawn from the card shoe. Karma Multigame solution raised great interest among visitors to ICE, because it allows the combination of different games and different technologies in one setting. All new products presented at ICE are distinguished from the competitors by a promise of longer gaming sessions. Karma line consists of fully automated games, virtual solutions, live solutions and connection to live games for Roulette, Sic Bo and Baccarat.
and live eSports betting and seamlessly integrated premium casino and live casino gaming content from industry-recognized gaming providers. SBTech’s Chameleon360 iGaming platform, a robust backend system, gives operators full control of their entire operation. The comprehensive backend system includes an advanced agent system, individual risk management, control of payouts per league and intuitive layout designs with both double/ single views.
Innovator, manufacturer, distributor
uzohapp displayed its strengths as an innovator, manufacturer and distributor of components and solutions at ICE. A completely new stand design reflected varying solutions for different market segments. The stand was divided into three categories – OEM, operations and sports betting. A wide array of SCAN COIN banknote and coin counters/ sorters and COMESTERO change machines and coin validators were also on display. A further highlight were the SHIFT Interactive Pro Table and the iDROP cash-handling solution for live gaming tables. The Suzohapp toppers, hoppers, locks, LCD button display and much more were also showcased at the show. Suzohapp also displayed their latest ELO touchscreen monitors and TransAct printers with Epicentral software. Suzohapp is the exclusive global distributor for a great range of these suppliers. “ICE was an amazing show and an excellent chance for us to update our customers on the latest innovations from Suzohapp. This was a great opportunity to underline our dedication to the global gaming market. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to come and see us at our stand”, said Geoff McDowell, Suzohapp Managing Director APA.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT 52 TCS
TCSJOHNHUXLEY showcases latest product portfolio at ICE 2016
CSJOHNHUXLEY, an innovator of live gaming solutions, showcased its latest product portfolio at ICE 2016 in London. Among the new releases was the debut of the Gaming Floor Live (GFL) platform modules. Built as a modular system, Gaming Floor Live is scalable and allows operators to build
their own table management platform using varying combinations of the GFL modules. Like building blocks, operators are able to add as many modules as they desire onto their base platform, in order to suit their unique needs. Also on display was GFL Gaming, which has been designed to revolutionise the player experience. Using compact fixed or portable touchscreen gaming terminals that enable live casino table play, GFL Gaming increases the number of player positions on the gaming floor, which can often be limited by seating constraints or dealer resources. With this module, casinos are able to transform small, previously underutilised licensed areas into revenue generating spaces.
The solution mimics a private virtual gaming experience while continuing to provide the exciting casino atmosphere players love. Visitors to the show were also able to enjoy the excitement and entertainment of Pinball – in the form of an LED Money Wheel and Blaze surface technology gaming table. Called Spinball, the game uses a Money Wheel-style table, and featuring the same odds as the traditional Money Wheel game, which proved to be a hit with visitors. In related news, TCS recently announced its success at the 9th annual International Gaming Awards (IGA), hosted Feb. 1 in London, where the company was presented with the award for Casino Equipment Supplier.
XPG Live Dealer
PG, provider of live dealer software, offers a unique solution with a wide range of European and Asian casino games all-in-one. Games include several types of Roulette, Blackjack and Baccarat; Asian games Dragon Tiger, Sic Bo, Dragon Roulette and Wheel of Fortune. For poker lovers there is Casino Hold’em, Caribbean poker and Multi Player Texas Hold’em. Unique side-bets Baccarat Super 6, Dragon Tiger and Bet Behind are also available in the system. New features include multi games and “Squeeze It”, which the supplier says should provide a thrilling game experience.
XPG says the key features of its system includes: advanced online video streaming technology, world leading studio facilities based in the heart of Europe, customized products depending on the region, flexible and quick integration with any existing operation, a comprehensive casino management system with 24/7 support, which combine to being a hugely scalable and cost effective new revenue stream. XPG has teamed up with Betsoft, Betradar, Pragmatic Play and Concept gaming, to provide a full range of virtual games from its partners.
360° one-stop shop
etradar is a brand of Sportradar, a key supplier of sports data and digital content for its clients around the world. Since its founding in 2001, Betradar has developed into a key player in the industry. Today, Betradar provides all the necessary services to run a successful bookmaker operation, such as fixtures, results, odds compiling, trading tools, in-running services, front-end content solutions (including statistics, live scores and live data visualisations), live streaming solutions, innovative gaming solutions and now eSports betting solutions. At Betradar, the past year was again marked
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
by some momentous decisions and benchmarksetting innovations. In particular, the launch of Betradar’s new Managed Trading Services was a key milestone in the execution of Betradar’s strategy of becoming the industry’s unique “onestop-shop” provider, offering a diverse portfolio of turnkey sports betting solutions. Today, Betradar offers the most comprehensive and reliable Live Odds & Live Scouting service and is the only supplier in the market that controls the entire chain of its in-running offer – from the data collection at the venue right through to the compilation and delivery of odds. In total, the coverage amounts to over 20,000
live events in 20 sports around the clock each month, providing over 500 unique odds types. Managed Trading Services, the latest product innovation from Betradar, helps to optimize the profit of each bookmaker by externalising labour-intensive tasks and dealing with them efficiently and cost-effectively. Moreover, Betradar’s Virtual Sports Betting products deliver fast-paced real money betting all day long across retail, mobile and online.
SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT 53 ALDERNEY
Alderney eGambling - serving the world
he world’s largest centre for online gambling, Alderney provides an exceptional jurisdiction for online operators with its dynamic, flexible and globally recognised regulatory regime. Just a short, 40 minute flight from London, the Island’s geographical position is perfect to serve businesses around the globe. We are delighted to be attending the 2016 iGaming Asia Congress and as sponsor of the welcome drinks on day one, we look forward to meeting you over a drink or two.
With day two focusing on Regional Market Strategies, Jorn Starck, Executive Director of the Alderney Gambling Control Commission and Susan O’Leary, Director of eCommerce will both be speaking in the afternoon. Susan will sit on the ‘Jurisdiction Opportunities in Europe’ panel at 14.00 and Jorn will present on ‘The Asian Betting Model,’ immediately after at 14.50. Please do come and introduce yourself, we’d love to meet you. See you at iGaming Asia Congress 2016!
True 3D cinematic gaming
etsoft Gaming showcased several new Asian-themed games at ICE Totally Gaming 2016. Among these were Rise of the Dragon, which tells the story of Hana, a young student ninja who must battle through many distinct game worlds to save her father from an evil rival. Another, 4 Seasons, uses an innovative feature that moves the player through the full flow of the Chinese Zodiac, where each representative animal is boosted to provide an 8x return. Betsoft’s vice president of sales and marketing, Mark McKeown, said: “Each of the games we are debuted at ICE are unique and charming in the difference of
their construction and theme. We have built upon the strong foundation that is at the core of our company to provide a wholly enrapturing gaming experience for our operators and their millions of players around the globe.” Betsoft says it is excited to be participating in the iGaming Asia Congress. Julian Camilleri, account manager, will be speaking on the panel discussing how to use next generation technology to progress Asia’s online casino market. Betsoft will also be sponsoring the Beer Garden at the close of the first day of the conference on Tuesday Mar. 22, welcoming all to unwind from the day with a drink.
Peter Greenhill to moderate panel at iG
quiom’s head of eBusiness and eGaming, Peter Greenhill, will speaking at the iGaming Asia Congress, taking place from Mar. 21-23 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Macau. The congress is Asia’s leading online casino, betting and mobile gaming event. It attracts delegates from all over the world with an interest in Asia’s gaming industry, including sports betting, online casino, lottery, social gaming and mobile gaming operators. Peter will lead a panel discussion, “Jurisdictional Opportunities in Europe”, on Tuesday Mar. 22 with representatives from Alderney, Malta and the Isle of Man. Panelists will discuss how companies decide where to be licensed and the comparative advantages of each jurisdiction. Peter commented: “Taking a multi-
jurisdictional approach to licensing has become the standard for the world’s leading operators, and the smaller gaming companies are following suit. In each case, the balance between cost and projected profit from each new jurisdiction is key. With offices and expertise spanning several jurisdictions, Equiom is ideally placed to help companies set up their headquarters in the correct location and gain licences wherever needed. I am looking forward to discussing the relative benefits of the multi-jurisdictional approach at the congress, alongside leading figures from the industry.” Peter will be joined at the congress by colleague Severino Sumulong, director, business development, who is based in Equiom’s Hong Kong office.
New standard in virtual betting
t the iGaming Asia Congress 2016 Golden Race will proudly present all the advantages of a partnership for both betting shops and online operators. Come and see previews of the upcoming knock-out game – Real Fighting. Try making some bets with our intuitive cashier software, watch the breath-taking action of our Football League, the excitement of our real video races, and experience the Golden Race winning advantage first-hand. Also on display at the Golden Race booth will be the upcoming new version of our Virtual Football product, pre-recorded Kart Racing, 3D Virtual Tennis, and the unique new numbers game Perfect 6. And as Golden Race continues to cater to their clients’ exact needs - fine-tuning products for their countries, the tastes of their players, and their habits – the existing proven suite of winning games will be on show with all the latest updates and customizations. iGA attendees can discover all the advantages Golden Race offers with their all-in-one solution for betting shops and online operators: The Golden-Box – a new standard in the virtual betting market. With an incredible, unrivalled acquisition cost, and pre-loaded with all the gaming content needed to launch and run a successful operation, this is the most cost effective and flexible solution on the market. As a world leader in the betting market, we understand what is needed in order to optimize your gambling business, keep up with popular trends, and maximize profits. Golden Race provides everything: HDMI output, simultaneous game playback, brand customisation ready, multi-language, multicurrency, incredibly small size, intuitive cashier interface, browser-based games access, web-based cashier access, automatic updates, full odds/margins configuration, and event scheduling with their powerful BackOffice management tool. If you attend iGaming Asia Congress this year, be sure to discover how Golden Race bring huge opportunities for growth in the gaming market to clients worldwide.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
CALENDAR OF EVENTS 54
MARCH ASIAN GAMING NETWORKING SOCIAL 18 March 2016 Salon de Ning, Peninsula, Manila, Philippines www.agbrief.com/events iGA - iGAMING ASIA CONGRESS 21-23 March 2016 Grand Hyatt Macau www.igamingasiacongress.com http://igamingasiacongress.com/
iGAMING NORTH AMERICA 5-7 April 2016 Las Vegas, USA www.igamingnorthamerica.com IMGL SPRING CONFERENCE 20-22 April 2016 San Francisco, USA www.gaminglawmasters.com/conferences/spring/overview/2016 GiGSE 27-29 April 2016 San Francisco, USA www.gigse.comwww.gigse.com
G2E ASIA 17-19 May 2016 The Venetian Macao www.g2easia.com
IAGA INTERNATIONAL GAMING SUMMIT 31 May - 2 June 2016 Westin Dragonara, Malta www.theiaga.org www.gigse.com
iGAMING SUPER SHOW 7-10 June 2016 Amsterdam, Netherlands www.igamingsupershow.com
WORLD GAMING EXECUTIVE SUMMIT 4-6 July 2016 W Hotel, Barcelona, Spain www.terrapinn.com/conference/world-gaming-executivesummit/index.stm
AUGUST AUSTRALASIAN GAMING EXPO (AGE) 9-11 August 2016 Sydney Exhibition Centre @Glebe Island, Australia www.austgamingexpo.com
SEPTEMBER GLOBAL GAMING EXPO (G2E) 27-29 September 2016 Sands Expo Center, Las Vegas, USA
Become a member EXCLUSIVE ACCESS TO AGB INTELLIGENCE BE THE FIRST TO RECEIVE OUR DAILY BRIEFS PRIORITY REGISTRATION FOR OUR EVENTS REGISTER NOW AT AGBRIEF.COM
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
OCTOBER EUROPEAN iGAMING EXPO (EIG) 20-22 October 2016 Arena Berlin, Germany www.eigexpo.com EAST MEETS WEST REGULATORS SUMMIT 26-28 October 2016 El Nido, Philippines Email: email@example.com
MACAO GAMING SHOW (MGS) 15-17 November 2016 The Venetian, Macau www.macaogamingshow.com MALTA iGAMING SEMINAR (MIGS) 15-18 November 2016 Corinthia Hotel St Georgeâ€™s Bay, Malta www.maltaigamingseminar.com
10th Annual 55
NEW CUSTOMERS. NEW TECHNOLOGIES. For online, land based and lottery gaming. 5 - 7 July 2016
W Hotel, Barcelona, Spain 280+ C-level executives 13+ hours of networking including gala dinners, yacht trips & pool parties 70+ of the industryâ€™s best and brightest speakers Confirmed speakers include: A
Chief Executive, Camelot
CEO, The Hippodrome
A Andy Wright Director, Ladbrokes
Head of EMEA Gaming Sales, Facebook
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Calls for regulation grow as illegal betting spirals
Despite regular and high-profile online gambling busts across Asia -- with one raid in November in China alone claiming to have broken up a staggering $78 billion multinational syndicate -- one thing is becoming abundantly clear.
Managing Editor, AGB
Elsewhere, it is strictly illegal. Singapore’s new hen it comes to internet gambling the genie is well and truly out of draconian anti-internet gambling laws took effect at the bottle and attempts at banning the beginning of 2015. The Remote Gambling Bill, the activity is doing little to curb made it illegal to offer online gambling services to Singaporeans, whether they are based on the island exponential growth. The problem is perhaps most acute in the sports or overseas, and imposed strict penalties for anyone betting industry, where the figures are mind boggling breaking the law. The Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club and the implications far wider, with authorities warning about the threat to the future of the sports have requested exemptions that would allow them to take bets on line, putting them in a similar position themselves. Over the past year, ESSA found that 100 sporting to the Hong Kong Jockey Club. However, given the scope of the problem, a growing events were reported as being suspicious. India’s cricket heros have been plagued by allegations of match number of influential voices say bans are not going fixing, while tennis accounted for three quarters of to be effective and it’s time to consider regulation. “First, governments worldwide the suspicious reports in 2015, need to legalize sports betting, with 19 cases in Asia. or at the very least bring illegal The International Centre for gambling out of the shadows so Sport Security estimates that REGULATION OF it can be kept from influencing the global sports betting market THE INDUSTRY, DONE the outcomes of sporting events,” may be worth an estimated Chris Eaton, ICSS’s executive $226 billion to $560 billion CORRECTLY, COULD director, sports integrity, wrote annually. Around 80 percent PROVE A GOLDMINE in a recent opinion piece. of that market is thought to be He said governments need to illegal and is being exploited by FOR GOVERNMENTS strongly supervise and regulate criminal organizations. IN TERMS OF TAX betting within their borders and According to research work across borders to ensure conducted by The Sorbonne REVENUES that betting operators are in and the ICSS as much as $140 full compliance of all reporting billion annually is laundered regulations, so that potentially through illegal sports betting. It goes without saying, much of the illegal market corrupting wagers can be tracked and monitored. ESSA chairman Mike O’Kane says improved is in Asia. The Hong Kong Jockey Club estimates illegal sports betting comes to $500 billion annually, data and research is proving “match-fixing is not a product of the regulated betting sector - it is now with $350 billion of that coming from Asia. There has also been speculation that much of widely recognised as primarily being a product of the VIP money that left Macau as a result of China’s the unregulated betting sector, criminals and corrupt crackdown on corruption may now be channelled sportspeople/ administrators.” Regulation of the industry, done correctly, could through online sites. Only the Philippines in Asia has a regulatory prove a goldmine for governments in terms of tax regime in place for online gambling. Cambodia revenue and could potentially provide Asia’s legal is considering legislation that may permit online casinos with an additional tool to reach clients as gambling, while the Australian government is expected companies look at the possibilities stemming from to soon publish the results of a review that may lead the convergence of mobile, internet and land-based products. to an overhaul of its internet gambling laws.
Asia Gaming Briefings | March 2016
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