AGBriefings July 2022 Edition

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In focus pg.28

Philippines regional round up, new openings


Dash for tourism diversity pg.18

AUSTRALIA Star heads roll pg.46


Back with a bang! pg.22


Reopening headaches pg.42 SUPPLIER SPECIAL REPORT pg.50









Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

























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Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


Countdown to ASEAN


t’s just a few days now until the ASEAN Gaming Summit

has been such a laggard in adopting digital technologies and

2022 returns to the Philippines.

whether this will change.

This July edition of AGBriefings is dedicated to the

Day 2 will be devoted to the online industry in Asia. Covid

jurisdiction, expected to be one of Asia’s top performing

has prompted some fairly seismic changes with the

markets with forecast gross gambling revenue of PHP65

Philippines leading the way in regulating online gambling

billion ($1.15 billion).

for its domestic market to make up for lost revenue from the

The conference will be the first major industry event in

closure of land-based casinos.

Asia since Covid and will kick off on Monday 25th with pre-

Industry participants have welcomed the move and see

conference workshops examining how well the region’s

great potential in the industry, but there is much scope for

tourism markets are recovering since reopening borders.

improvement to allow them to compete on a level playing

The pre-conference agenda also includes a special

field with the rampant illegal market. Eradication of illegal

workshop by marketing expert Sudhir Kale, founder of

online gambling in the country was another of the main

GamePlan Consultants, who will walk participants through

reasons, the government of former President Rodrigo

the art of service blueprinting to improve customer

Duterte moved to allow PIGO licenses.

experiences and loyalty.

Elsewhere around Asia, some other jurisdictions are also

ASEAN’s main conference agenda will kick off on Tuesday

evaluating whether they will move to regulate online

26th and will be dedicated mainly to the land-based industry.

gambling. We hear from Fred Gushin, managing director

As well as panel sessions exploring the future for the

of Spectrum Gaming about which jurisdictions may take a

industry in the Philippines and how Asia’s IRs may need to

more liberal approach.

revamp their offering post Covid, we will hear from a series

As well as regulation, attendees will also hear discussions

of property presentations from operators around the region.

on cyber security, the use of crypto in online gambling,

These will include the newly opened NUSTAR Resort & Casino

affiliates, esports and more.

Rosalind Wade

Luis Pereira

on Cebu. It’s the first true integrated resort on the island, Happy reading and safe travels.

which is one of the Philippines’ top holiday destinations. We will also hear from Emerald Resorts, which has

See you in Manilia!

another IR in the works for Cebu and which recently announced that Bloomberry Resorts is planning to invest in this project, as well as a separate property planned for

On behalf of Asia Gaming Brief

the Clark Freeport Zone.

Rosalind Wade & Luis Pereira

Our property updates will be rounded out by Thunderbird


Resorts, which operates two regional casinos in the Philippines and by NagaCorp, Cambodia’s largest casino

Connect with us:

operator, which has a monopoly within 200km of the capital Phnom Penh.


Another panel of expert speakers will also address the subject of cashless, with a focus on why the casino industry

Asia Gaming Brief

Asia Gaming Brief


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Macau urges tourism diversification as China crackdown intensifies Any lingering hope that Macau was exempt from China’s crackdown on its citizens crossing overseas to gamble has now been dashed, with the local government urging operators to look elsewhere for their clientele. Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022




n mid-May, China’s National Immigration Administration boasted significant success in stamping out illegal crossborder gambling. Since 2021, it said it has identified more than 90,000 people who had been suspected of attempting to leave the country to gamble and “persuading” them to remain in the country. Amendments under Article 303 of China’s Criminal Law came into effect in March last year, giving teeth to Beijing’s effort to stem a flood of capital out of the country into the region’s casinos. It is now a crime punishable by up to 10 years in jail to organize or seek to entice Chinese to gamble. The day following the National Immigration Authority’s statement, Macau legislators said the city’s six operators need to look elsewhere for their custom. They are now proposing a reduction of 5 percent in tax for operators can bring in tourists from outside of China. However, that proposal has come with a sting in its tail in the form of a 1 percentage point increase overall to 40 percent. Chan Chak Mo, the chairman of a legislative committee evaluating amendments to Macau’s gaming law, told local media that the city has to diversify its tourism base due to China’s ongoing crackdown on cross-border gambling. “Before, almost 80 percent of gamblers and tourists came from mainland China, 10 percent from Hong Kong and five percent from Taiwan. But we also used to have more

tourists from Thailand, South Korea and Japan,” he was cited as saying. “Considering the changes in the Chinese gaming criminal law, maybe we need to explore other markets, that’s why the government changed this article, to try and attract more foreign clients,” Chan added. It was the most direct acknowledgement so far that Macau’s status as a Special Administrative Region of China doesn’t exempt it from China’s cross-border gambling crosshairs. In fact, up until recently, many commentators had argued that Macau may actually benefit as it is technically part of China. However, analysts are now noting that frequent gamblers are being denied visas to visit Macau and business travelers who cross the border frequently are facing more stringent checks. In the short term, there is no possibility for Macau to attract gamblers from elsewhere. The borders remain closed to all non-residents from outside the Greater China region and the government has reiterated that it will continue pursuing a zero-Covid policy in lockstep with Beijing. Before the spread of the Omicron variant earlier this year, there had been hope that the borders between Hong Kong and China would be opening imminently, shortly followed by those with Macau. There is now no visibility as to when talks on an opening may resume. Hong Kong has historically accounted for about 20 percent







8000 6000




4000 2000

Apex court confirms operators and junkets jointly liable









of Macau’s gross gambling revenue and the return of visitors from the city would provide a significant boost. Even when borders do reopen, Macau is likely to face an uphill battle to diversify its tourism base. Although its integrated resorts, food and beverage, and retail offerings are world class, they cater predominantly for the Mainland Chinese market. There is also stiff competition from cheaper destinations around the region. Analysts at J.P. Morgan have estimated that if the Macau government does follow through and cuts its tax rate by five percentage points, there would be a boost of between 12 and 15 percent to the operators’ EBITDA. “Any reduction in tax would be positive for future profits and cash flows, all else equal,” the analysts wrote “While it’s much too early to comment on the possibility of this happening – especially considering likely preconditions for this tax cut – we think ‘it’s always the thought that counts’ when it comes to regulation.” In the meantime, predictions for when the Macau market will recover are being pushed out, with doubts gross gambling revenue will ever return to pre-pandemic levels due to the collapse of the junket model and the subsequent loss of the VIP gamer. Moody’s has lowered its forecasts for the city’s mass-market GGR in 2022 and 2023 to around 40 percent and 80 percent of 2019 levels, respectively. It doesn’t expect a full mass-market GGR recovery until 2024.






(Source: DICJ)

Satellites get lifeline under gaming law amendment Macau’s draft gaming law has been amended to help satellite casinos, which will now be able to operate for longer than the original three-year transition period, but without revenue sharing. The original version of the law stated that all satellite casinos must be operating out of property owned by one of the six concessionaires. They were given the three-year timetable to comply. It was one of the most contentious areas of the gaming law, due to the potential impact on employment in Macau were they to cease to do business. There are about 18 satellite casinos in Macau, out of a total of 40. Though some have already announced plans to close since the gaming law was published at the beginning of this year. The new version states that even if the property where the casino is based is not owned by the concessionaire, it can continue operating as a managing entity if a contract is established with the operator.

The Court of Final Appeal ruled in mid-May that operators and junkets are jointly liable for client deposits in all nine cases presented before the court. Eight of the cases related to Wynn Resorts and Dore, while one related to MGM China and Suncity, the court said in a press release. The plaintiffs were all members of the VIP rooms of the two junket operators and the amount claimed ranges between HK$1 million to $6 million. After attempts to get the cash back were rejected by the junkets, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the lower courts requesting that the operator be made jointly liable. The nine cases have been appealed to the higher court where “ the collegial panel held that the gaming concessionaire must be jointly and severally liable to the third party for the debts incurred by the gaming licensee in relation to the activities carried out by its gaming promoters in its entertainment venues,” it said.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022





Japan’s missed opportunity Four years after Japan pushed through its law to legalize gambling, the final bids have been put forward for the government to consider, with only two remaining candidates putting their hands up for one of the three licenses on offer.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022




he situation is a far cry from the concerns about the financing for the JPY470 beginning of the process, when billion bid ($3.7 billion). MGM’s $10 billion development is on nearly all of the world’s largest casino operators piled in with Osaka’s Yumeshima island, with the choice of promises of multi-billion dollar projects to the location already raising some headaches capture what was expected to rapidly become for the operator on concern about the viability of such a large-scale project on soft soil. the second-largest market in Asia. Toyonori Takahashi, executive officer of At the end of the day, only a consortium between MGM Resorts and Orix Corp. venture partner ORIX has said the island is in partnership with Osaka, and Casinos sinking and the consortium is carrying out Austria working with Nagasaki submitted extra boring works to assess what the ground could withstand. their final applications. Exploration work has also uncovered Industry insiders are not convinced either that the central government will award both soil contamination at the site, with estimates of the candidates a license this time around. for the disposal of the waste set at about “I’m pretty confident about one, but Y79 billion. The operator has said its project will for the second one it’s a wait and see,” says Brendan Bussmann, managing partner of B “transform the region into one of the world’s top entertainment and Global, who has been hospitality destinations observing the Japan and that will serve as a market for almost two hub for tourism across decades. “That still It’s a little bit Japan.” leaves a minimum of It will include hotels one on the table, where disappointing from and amenities including you could easily open the standpoint that MGM Osaka, MGM up a process again, at Villas, MUSIIB Hotel some point, whether you had such a with a total of 2,500 that’d be later this year, crown jewel, and guest rooms. It will or further down the also include a variety road, but you’ve at least now we’re sitting of dining and food & got one on the table.” on the outside beverage offerings, “It’s a little bit retail space, spa, fitness disappointing from going, okay, center, banquet halls. the standpoint that where’s the rest? The property will you had such a crown also be fit with meeting jewel, and now we’re and convention facilities, sitting on the outside including 400,000 square going, okay, where’s the rest?” he said, referring to the outcome feet of conference facilities with the capacity to accommodate more than 6,000 visitors, of the first tender. “I think that’s the bigger question with as well as 330,000 square feet of exhibition space including an “Innovation Laboratory”. Japan is, when might the rest come?” Bussmann said he thinks MGM will win There will also be a Yumeshima Theatre with a license, with one of the most solid and approximately 3,500 seats. MGM Resorts said it expects 20 million consistent campaigns, although there may still be question marks over financing with visitors annually, and would employ the Casinos Austria bid in Nagasaki, similar to approximately 15,000 people. Casinos Austria is proposing to build the those that scuppered Wakayama’s aspirations. In a last-minute political upset, Wakayama IR next to the Huis Ten Bosch Dutch-themed in late April said it would exit from the bid amusement park. The company projects the for an IR license after its prefectural assembly IR will attract up to 8.4 million visitors a year, voted against its development plan on similar creating 30,000 jobs and generating US$2.9 billion for the economy. financing concerns. The complex will have up to eight hotels, Wakayama had partnered with Clairvest Neem in a consortium which also included 2,200 slot machines and 220 tables. Kyodo Caesars Entertainment. However, the assembly notes that the casino will be located furthest voted 18 in favor and 22 against the plan from the IR’s entrance to prevent non-casino that was put forward. The assembly raised guests from gathering.

Dynam remains cautious on outlook Dynam Japan, an operator of pachinko parlors, posted a 6.6 percent gain in profit for the fiscal year to end-March as restrictions eased, but the company is cautious in its outlook. Revenue was Y105.1 billion ($818 million), the company said in a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Net profit more than doubled to Y4.9 billion. The company is the leading pachinko company in Japan with 433 halls, lower than the 442 it had the prior year. Business improved during 2021 as the company was able to operate without lockdowns, but revenue failed to return to pre-pandemic levels. “The group can’t be optimistic about the business surroundings in the future, as there remain concerns about the continued spread of infection caused by new variants of coronavirus,” it said. “In consideration of the above, the group believes that revenue from pachinko business will arrive at the similar level of the fiscal year ended, 31 March 2020 (before the spread of the coronavirus infection) over a few years.”

No plans to liberalize sports betting Japan’s government has denied reports that it is studying a draft law to expand legal sports betting. Hagiuda Koichi, Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry , held a press conference on Wednesday to deny the reports. The ministry has conducted a study into how the U.S. sports betting industry works, but there is no draft law as is being claimed in news reports, an industry source said. The Yomiuri Shimbun and other local media outlets had reported that the ministry and the Japan Sports Agency would resume talks in July on lifting a ban on sports betting to raise revenue to revitalize the industry. However, there is strong opposition to any further liberalization of the gambling industry in Japan. The process to establish casinos is moving ahead, but does still not appear to have popular support in the country. At present, betting is only permitted on horse racing, cycling, boat racing and motorcycling.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022




Singapore sees strong return, but longer-term clouds linger Singapore is back, Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Rob Goldstein said after reporting strong recovery across all business segments in 1Q22, although some analysts urge caution due to the lack of Chinese gamblers and increasing regional competition.




he country was one of the first in Genting Singapore to be able to return to its Asia to begin learning to live with pre-Covid GGR levels. He argues that VIP the virus after vaccination rates volume will be hit by China’s ongoing campaign topped 90 percent of the population. against cross-border gambling, which is now It removed all remaining travel restrictions in punishable by as much as 10 years in jail. The mass market is also likely to face April, including pre-departure testing. Presenting Las Vegas Sands’ 1Q22 results, much stiffer competition from regional CEO Rob Goldstein said its Marina Bay Sands integrated resorts in the Philippines, Cambodia (MBS) property had gained momentum and Macau, which will be working hard to throughout the quarter, with $17 million in draw in premium mass gamblers that have EBITDA in January, $46 million in February frequented the IRs in Singapore. There is also the added question mark over and $58 million in March. “Assuming there’s no more surprises the potential for legal gambling in Thailand, from the COVID situation. We like to think where a government committee is studying that Singapore will return to a $1 billion run the feasibility of regulating integrated resorts. “Even without IRs, a whopping 11 million rate in this year. So, $58 million in March feels pretty good, and that momentum is Chinese visited Thailand in 2019. Should Thai IRs materialize, we would wonder how financially continuing,” he said. “It’s all coming back. We saw outsized viable the S$4.5 billion RWS 2.0 expansion will be,” he wrote. demand from free Both of Singapore’s independent travelers IRs announced expansion on the pure leisure side, plans in 2019. Each agreed we saw premium mass. It’s all to add more non-gaming We saw high-end plate coming back. attractions in return for coming out over the an expansion in their rim,” he told analysts We saw outsized gaming floor and gaming on a conference call. demand from machines. They have He also conceded also had their license that MBS has a unique free independent exclusivity extended window of opportunity, travelers on the until 2030. However, with Macau still closed the downside came with to international visitors pure leisure side, higher taxes from 2022 from outside Mainland we saw premium and an immediate hike China. in casino entrance fees. “I think our MBS mass. T h o s e are n ow products have a very, very underway, although unique opportunistic they have been delayed window here. We’re hoping Macao opens up obviously sooner. by the pandemic. MBS said in April it had But until it does, I think you’ll see a lot more been given another year to begin construction on the project. demand than typical.” Separate from the broader expansion, Maybank analyst Yin Shao Yang says he has substantially revised his earnings Marina Bay Sands is pushing ahead with estimates for Singapore’s other operator a $1 billion revamp of its hotel, which will Genting Singapore due to the earlier-than- upgrade all rooms and suites, with the work to be completed this year and next. expected reopening of borders. The hotel revamp will include the addition He said his forecast for 2022 earnings has been upped by 165 percent and for 2023 by 123 of signature experiences across the 55th floor percent. He now sees VIP volume returning of all three hotel blocks, including an Executive to 83 percent of 2019 volumes by the middle Club Lounge, premium fine dining and other of this year, brought forward from an earlier luxury lifestyle amenities. Marina Bay Sands opened in 2010 at a expectation for 2024. Mass market gross gambling revenue is cost of $5.6 billion. Genting Singapore is also revamping its likely to reach 92 percent of pre-Covid levels in 2023, compared with an earlier forecast of hotel offering at Resorts World Singapore and has also said it will invest $400 million reaching that level by 2024. Despite the optimism generated by reopening this year on new attractions under the Phase demand, Yang cautions that he doesn’t expect 2 expansion plan.



400k 300k 200k 100k 0






(Source: STB)

Veteran Tan Hee Teck to take helm as CEO Genting Singapore has appointed its president and chief operating officer, Tan Hee Teck, as its new CEO. Tan Hee Teck, 66, has been with the company since 2004 and has held the position of president and chief operating officer since 2010. As a result of his new appointment he will cease to hold the latter two roles. Genting Singapore said its nominating committee and board of directors had assessed Mr. Tan’s appointment as CEO and they were satisfied that he had the qualifications and experience for the role. He has been with Genting Group since 1982 working in various senior corporate and operational roles, but also had a stint as COO and executive director of investment brokers DBS Vickers Securities until he left to rejoin Genting in 2004.

RHB eyes dividend return at Genting Singapore Research firm RHB has raised its price target on Genting Singapore due to the improved recovery prospects post-Covid and the company’s pledge to work towards restoring its pre-pandemic dividend. The price target goes to S$0.95 from S$0.90. “We still like this company for its recovery from borders reopening and potential upside in dividends,” the research team was cited as saying by local media. “The higher multiple reflects Genting’s better and more certain prospects, as Singapore begins to treat Covid-19 as an endemic, reducing the probability of more future strict lockdowns,” said RHB. Pre-pandemic, Genting paid out $0.04 per share. The group is sitting on cash worth about $0.38 per share, which had been earmarked for a mothballed project in Japan.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022



Analysts forecast brighter skies ahead for Genting Malaysia Genting Malaysia’s overseas operations are the bright spot for its results at present, but analysts expect a strong recovery in the second half for its key domestic business.


alaysia’s monopoly casino operator has operations in the U.S., U.K., Egypt and the Bahamas, but Malaysia has historically made up the bulk of its revenue. In 1Q22, the most recent figures available, the domestic operations generated MYR921.1 million, compared with MYR358 million in North America and MYR395 million in the U.K. and Egypt. The results were lower than analysts had expected due to slower visitation in Malaysia due to Omicron, especially in March. However, signs are that business will pick up in the second half. Genting Malaysia opened its delayed SkyWorlds theme park in February this year and analysts expect it to be a key driver of visitation to the property. The park is the centerpiece of the MYR10.38

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

billion ($2.46 billion) Genting Integrated Tourism Plan, which adds new hotel rooms and facilities to Resorts World Genting (RWG). It also increased the size of the casino floor. The $800 million theme park is spread over 26 acres and has nine themed zones. It is ultimately expected to feature 26 attractions, but not all were open in the first half. Analysts at CGSCIMB expect visitation will pick up in the second half of the year as more attractions come online. The firm is expecting 1.5 million visitors this year, rising to 2.3 million next year and 2.5 million in 2023. But it warns that the high start up costs will mean that there is likely to be a hit to Genting’s pre-tax profit of MYR174 million this year, and MYR58 million next, before beginning to boost earnings from 2025. HongLeong Investment Bank cut its forecasts for this year by 34.9 percent and next year by

3.8 percent following the 1Q22 miss. However, analyst Tan Kai Shuen remains upbeat about Genting Malaysia’s prospects. The bank has raised estimates for its target share price to RM3.91 from RM3.69. “We continue to like GenM as we view RWG as one of the prime beneficiaries with borders reopening, especially with the addition of the theme park that complements its gaming attraction, making it an attractive tourism spot that could capture visitors from all walks of life,” Tan said. As borders reopen, analysts also say that Genting Malaysia may benefit from the weakness of the Malaysian ringgit. The company has begun actively advertising overseas since the borders reopened on April 1st, especially in Singapore, analysts at CGSCIMB wrote. The Singapore market made up between


10 and 15 percent of all visitors in 2019 and the Singapore dollar this month hit an all-time high against the Malaysian currency. HongLeong’s Tan said the weaker currency may encourage local visitors to stay at home as traveling overseas will be more expensive. Conversely, it may boost foreign tourists and mass-market gamblers as it becomes cheaper than its regional peers. In 1Q22, Genting reached 50 percent of its 2019 gross gambling revenue, with a higher split coming from the VIP market at 55 percent, compared with the pre-Covid normal of about 40 percent to 50 percent, Nomura analysts Tushar Mohata and Alpa Aggarwal wrote. The group’s EBITDA margin fell to 29 percent from 38 percent in the prior quarter, due to higher costs to get customers to the resort and as headcount ramped up to service the facilities. Nomura has cut its forecasts for EBITDA in Malaysia this year by 11 percent and 10 percent next year, but the firm said it sees better quarters ahead. For the group as a whole, the firm raised its forecasts for 2022 EBITDA by 3 percent this year and cut by 1 percent for next, adding it is below consensus estimates. “We believe that the street might need to factor in new higher finance and depreciation run-rates, potentially leading to earnings cuts,” they said.




(units in RM’Mil)




395.3 299.0






United Kingdom and Egypt

United States of America and Bahamas (Source: Genting Malaysia)

Malaysia on track to top 2m tourist arrival target

BetMakers brings tote tech. to Royal Sabah racing club

Malaysia welcomed more than a million tourists in the first two months after its borders reopened on April 1st, already reaching half of the government’s arrivals target for this year. The country was expecting two million visitors for 2022. Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri was cited as saying that the majority of the tourists were coming from neighboring Singapore, although the government is also expecting increasing numbers from South Korea, Japan and Iran.

BetMakers Technology Group said it has signed an agreement with Royal Sabah Turf Club to deliver a new advanced tote betting system and content management services to its Tambalang Race Course and associated off-course betting network in Malaysia through BetMakers’ Global Tote and Global Racing Network divisions. Under the terms of a new five-year agreement, BetMakers’ Global Tote division will upgrade Royal Sabah Turf Club’s tote system to the Quantum Tote Solution, the world’s most widely deployed pari-mutuel betting system. In addition, BetMakers’ Global Racing Network will hold the exclusive rights to distribute Royal Sabah Turf Club races globally, within both the tote and fixed odds markets.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022



Philippines en track to be Asia market leader in 2022 Gross gambling revenue from licensed casinos in the Philippines jumped more than 29 percent in 1Q22, confirming predictions that the country will be one of the best-performing markets in Asia going forward.


he majority of the first quarter income came from properties in Manila’s Entertainment City, while casinos in Clark made up around 9 percent of this GGR number and those from Fiesta made up 0.8 percent. Total industry GGR reached P39.2 billion ($733 million), rising from P30.0 billion in the prior-year period and P34.5 billion in 4Q21. The country is one of the few markets in Asia where locals are allowed to gamble and prior to the crisis the economy had been one of the fastest-growing in the region. “The recovery will be very strong and we expect the GGR to be coming back to 2019 levels by 2023,” said Scott Feeney, executive director of GCG Gaming Advisory Services. “The Philippines offers the perfect broad range of the three gaming destinations of Manila, Clark and Cebu, each having its own diverse attractions and having the locals and the Koreans as its main markets, which as we can see now is far more advantageous than Macau or Vietnam, which are heavily reliant on the Chinese.” Feeney predicts the Philippines will match Singapore in terms of GGR next year and will potentially overtake it the following to become the second-largest market in Asia. “The Philippines offers better value hotel, retail and food & beverage offerings than Singapore and in terms of pure gaming Manila, Clark and Cebu could all be visited in one 5-6 day trip offering 9-10 major integrated resorts as opposed to Singapore’s two,” he said. After a slow start to the year due to the spread of Omicron, the Philippines opened its borders to international travelers in mid-February. The casinos were allowed to open without restrictions from March. Daily arrivals doubled from 5,000 before February to 12,000 by end-March, according to the Philippines Bureau of Immigration (BIR). Despite the open borders, operators and market watchers are expecting the majority of

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

demand to come from the domestic market this year due to ongoing flight disruptions and a patchwork of different quarantine and testing requirements on return. “As alert levels were reduced and travel restrictions were eased, we saw a gradual pick up in business,” said David Lawrence, general manager, casino, at Thunderbird Resorts, which operates two regional properties. “This was particularly noticeable when Alert Level 1 was announced.” He said so far the response from the international market has been limited. “We are seeing a slow response in this area but as with other operators we expect this to increase as flight schedules are ramped up and respective country restrictions are also eased.” Andrew Klebanow, principal of C3 Gaming agrees. “It remains to be seen if the Philippines’ international tourism industry recovers in 2022 or if a sustained recovery does not start into 2023,” he said. “The relaxation of vaccine/testing requirements will certainly help but the real question is, what will be the requirements for international tourists once they try to return home? Will their home nations require a negative test 24 hours prior to departing MNL, CRK or CEB?” Angel Sueiro, chief operating officer of PH Resorts, which is developing the Emerald Bay on Cebu, adds that there is also a psychological barrier to travel, with tourists concerned about being caught up on new lockdowns. “With more information trust should come back soon, and for some particular markets (for example Koreans), quick recovery is expected.” The Philippines got a new president in early May after six years under President Rodrigo Duterte, who performed numerous U-turns when it came to the gaming industry. He came to power declaring his hatred for gambling, issuing a moratorium on new casino licenses in 2018 and shaking up the online industry.

However, Covid forced a change of heart as the government sought ways to replenish depleted coffers. He lifted his moratorium and approved an omni channel model of online gambling, which allowed the country’s casinos and gaming platforms to offer products online. It is the only jurisdiction in Asia to do so. At the time of writing, the incoming administration of Ferdinand Marco Jnr has not set out its policies towards the industry, although he is believed to be business friendly. If he stays the course, foreign investment interest in the Philippines is likely to remain strong. “The Philippines is expected to be the fastest growing gaming market in Asia so investor interest is high,” Thunderbird’s Lawrence said. “Due to its geographical size there is still potential in the Philippines for both IR’s and boutique gaming operations.”


Okada listing pushed back after boardroom takeover The listing of Okada Manila on the NASDAQ has been delayed by three months following the forcible takeover of the property by Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada on May 31st. The company’s parent announced last year that it was planning to obtain the listing through a merger with a special acquisition company, 26 Capital. Parent company Universal said it had pushed back the deadline for the merger from June 30th to September 30th to allow it to update information in a registration statement that has already been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The update is to warn of the latest developments and the potential risks. Kazuo Okada was ousted from the board of TRLEI in 2017 on charges of embezzling $3 million from the company. He has been fighting to regain control of the asset ever since. In May, the Philippines Supreme Court issued a status quo ante order (SQAO) that mandated that Okada be restored as chairman and CEO of the group. Shortly thereafter, a group of 50 entered the property and took control, ousting the existing management.

LRWC puts mobile first in BingoPlus revamp Leisure & Resorts World Corp is revamping its BingoPlus brand in order to tap into the mobilesavvy gaming customer. LRWC said it had updated the logo of BingoPlus to “meet today’s growing demand for a mobile-first environment that complements different digital spaces.” The new BingoPlus logo is said to “represent the fun, lively and dynamic products of the brand.” The revamped brand is aimed at meeting the requirements for both offline and online use and has the capability to maximize growth in the mobile-first environment across multiple markets, LRWC said. Earlier this year, Leisure & Resorts World Corp. (LRWC) said it had been given permission for the first online bingo offering in the Philippines, as the country expands its domestic igaming market.




(units in million) 8,026

Entertainment City

9,308 9,554




78 84


808 1,024 (Source: PAGCOR)

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


Shangri-La at the Fort Manila, Philippines

a sea n ga m in m Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


Focusing on the Philippines There’s never a dull moment in the Philippines and this year has been no exception, both to the upside and the down.


arly lockdowns dampened gross gambling revenue in the first few months of the year, but the country began to ease restrictions from February, reopening its borders to international flights. Casino restrictions were lifted from March and since then operators have been reporting strong pent-up demand. The country is expected to be the best-performing in Asia this year, benefiting from domestic support and a gradual increase in tourism. Foreign investors are reportedly interested in the market, which ticks plenty of boxes when it comes to a gaming jurisdiction in Asia. It’s one of the few where locals can gamble and consumer spending power had been on the rise prior to the pandemic on the back of steady economic growth. The Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), under the leadership of Chair Andrea Domingo, has shown itself to be the most forward looking in Asia, recognizing the potential of regulating online gaming which was rampant anyway in the black market. However, it has always been a volatile jurisdiction and it’s not for the faint of heart. Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada’s boardroom coup at Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment is a case in point. His team has taken control of the operator of Okada Manila with no claim to ownership, rattling casino investors around the globe. In the focus section of this edition of Asia Gaming Briefings, we throw the spotlight on the Philippines.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

We hear from PAGCOR’s Andrea Domingo, whose six-year term has ended following the presidential elections. She tells us of some of her proudest achievements during her tenure and provides a few words of advice for the incoming administration. In these pages, we also talk with Daesik Han, Chairman and CEO of Hann Resorts, which opened its doors in December. The IR is a revamp and rebrand of the former Widus Resorts. Han has even bigger plans for the future. Joe Pisano, CEO of Jade Entertainment, takes a look at the proliferation of illegal online gambling, with turnover running into the trillions of pesos. He urges for more to be done to tap the benefits from regulated gaming. We also examine two of the zones that PAGCOR has deemed suitable for development as entertainment and tourism hubs with casinos. The first is Cebu in the Central Visayas, with its picture postcard, white sand beaches. The area’s first integrated resort - NUSTAR Resort & Casino - opened in May. We explore the merits of the area and how it stacks up as a potential gaming destination. We also take a look at the Clark Special Economic Zone, which has a far bigger cluster of existing casinos. The airport was recently upgraded and there is a good highway link to the capital Manila, providing a base for strong potential growth. All of these themes and more will be up for discussion in the ASEAN Gaming Summit, in Manila from July 25-27.


Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


PAGCOR needs to stay focused, innovative and transparent, Domingo says The election of a new president in the Philippines automatically triggers a change in leadership at the gaming regulator, the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR). We asked outgoing chair, Andrea Domingo, about her proudest achievements over the past six years and what advice she can give to her successor.


he Philippine gaming industry has expanded substantially during your tenure, what is your proudest achievement in terms of a) gaming and b) nation building?

Some of PAGCOR’s notable achievements – since we assumed office in 2016 – were upholding the integrity of the gaming industry; ensuring that PAGCOR’s role as the country’s gaming regulator was enforced and strengthened; and eventually contributing substantially to the government’s nation-building efforts through regulated gaming.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

By enforcing PAGCOR’s regulatory functions, we continued to promote Responsible Gaming among all PAGCOR-operated and licensed entities to prevent gambling addiction and the proliferation of illegal gambling activities. We also ensured that all laws related to the local gaming industry were followed to give all industry players a level-playing field. As regards expansion, the Philippine gaming industry has indeed expanded substantially because PAGCOR was able to regulate many gaming activities, which used to be considered illegal. One of these was the POGOs,


If gambling “ cannot be

eliminated, the next best thing is regulation with competence and integrity.

also gone beyond our mandate. We continued to touch the lives of marginalized Filipinos through our own CSR programs. We helped uplift the country’s health services through cash grants for the rehabilitation and construction of hospitals, procurement of medical supplies and equipment, provision of support to medical frontliners and extensive COVID-19 response efforts, as well as the construction of safe evacuation facilities and safe housing projects for locals in disaster-prone communities. What has been your biggest challenge during your time in office?

or offshore gaming operations, which were in existence for a very long time but yielded nothing for the government. With regulations in place, POGOs – at their height – were yielding from PHP8 to PHP9 billion per year, plus taxes. We also saw a lot of illegal online gaming, hence, we approved online gaming in our licensed integrated resorts to prevent the proliferation of illegal online gaming activities. If we did not do that, the brick-and-mortar casinos would lose a lot of their players to unregulated online gaming. Therefore, by dutifully fulfilling our role as gaming regulator, PAGCOR is still one of the country’s biggest sources of revenues – next to the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs. In the past six years (2016-2021), the staterun gaming agency has generated PHP373.49 billion in revenues from its gaming operations and other related services. Of this amount, 64 percent, or PHP238.74 billion, was remitted to the government through PAGCOR’s mandated contributions and other Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs. Our commitment to nation-building has

Our biggest challenge during our term was the significant reduction in our gaming revenues during the height of pandemic-driven lockdowns, at the same time our refusal to terminate any of our 11,000 plus employees. We adopted severe cost-reduction programs so that even during the height of the pandemic, we still yielded net income of PHP1.55 billion in 2020 and PHP203.57 million in 2021. Also, because of our judicious spending in the past six years, we were able to generate savings of over PHP25 billion; PHP6 billion of which were remitted to national coffers as advanced cash dividends for 2021. Is there anything you might have done differently? I believe that I have done pretty well in the discharge of my duties and functions as PAGCOR chief. Maybe it is more of, what could I have done more – instead of what I could have done differently. What would your message to your successor be? As the economic pinch of the pandemic is still being felt in all industries worldwide,

it is a must for my successor to stay focused, keep abreast with the latest gaming trends, be innovative and transparent. The next PAGCOR chief should also continue providing for the citizens’ needs and must be concerned about the welfare of the employees. It is always a good practice to follow the law and level the playing field for all. Where would you like to see the industry in five years’ time? I would like to see the PAGCOR become the leading authority, as a regulator in the ASEAN region and increase its role as a major partner in our country’s nation-building efforts. If gambling cannot be eliminated, the next best thing is regulation with competence and integrity. How is the industry recovering from COVID? With gaming operations now in full swing, we continue to implement strict health protocols in all our gaming sites and coordinate with the local government units that host our gaming venues to obtain a Safety Seal certification. We adopted said measures at the height of the pandemic when the gaming sites operated on a limited capacity, and it resulted in us generating over P113 billion in GGR in 2021. The way the industry is going now, we can possibly have a GGR of more than PHP165 billion in 2022. This is better than that of 2018 but short of that of 2019. What are the biggest industry challenges right now? The process of recovery from revenue losses is proving to be an ordeal for us with one of our huge income sources – the eSabong – facing stiff resistance from various quarters and casino junket and offshore gaming operations being levied with restrictions. What are you planning to do next? I will spend my time with my family, particularly with my husband. I am going to indulge in my passion for Philippine culture and arts. Maybe write articles about interesting pieces that I have been collecting since the 1970’s. We will also tend to the farms that we have neglected for almost 30 years. Food production for all economic classes will be a good project

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


Hann sees strong recovery, plans $1B more in investments Daesik Han, Chairman and CEO of Hann Philippines, said he plans to spend a further $1 billion over the next five years, adding a larger casino and more hotels and golf courses at his properties.


ann, which was formerly known as the Widus Group, unveiled its plans to revamp the Widus Resort and for a new lifestyle brand, Hann Lux Lifestyle Resort, in 2020, with an initial investment of about P20 billion. The rebranded Hann Casino Resort reopened in December last year, and in March it rolled out the Philippines first Swissotel. The property is located in the Clark Freeport Zone, a former U.S. military facility,

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

while the Han Lux is on 450 hectares in New Clark City. It has 800 slot machines, 88 electronic table games and will have 865 hotel rooms. At present 763 are open with 102 Swissotel suites in the works. Han said the feedback on the new-look Hann had been positive, although at the beginning there was still considerable uncertainty about the course of the pandemic due to the Omicron outbreak. “From March this year, we feel like we have strongly


bounced back,” he said, pointing to the performance of the Clark Marriott hotel at Hann, which is one of the top five performing in the Asian region and has returned to pre-pandemic levels. “In terms of the casino operation, we have also broken the record of prior to the pandemic and especially this coming month (June), I think we’re going to have almost double our pre-pandemic performance.” Han said the resort is enjoying strong pentup demand from the local market, which at present makes up about 90 percent of its clientele. However, South Korea, which is traditionally one of the strongest tourism source markets for Clark, is also expected to begin returning after the government in Seoul lifted flight restrictions. “So from now on out I’m expecting a pretty good influx of the Korean market,” he said. Clark already benefited from U.S. military infrastructure, but facilities have been improved,

such as a new high-speed rail link between the capital Manila and Clark, as well as a new airport terminal. “I strongly believe that the market has just started to grow and will take many, many years before it becomes mature, like the Manila market or or Macau market,” he said. “That’s what I see, so I plan to invest a significant amount here. Han said his plans include another golf course at the New Clark City property, as well as luxury hotels. The resort already boasts a Banyan Tree. He also has plans for a larger casino in Clark City. Han said his concept for the resort was based on two main factors. Even prior to Covid, he said he believed the hospitality industry would begin to focus more on natural themes. This is a trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic. The resort is colorful and luxurious, but without the intimidating grandiosity of some of the larger properties in the country. With a strong domestic market, he said he also wanted to bring in a more European feel and therefore had chosen to partner with the Swissotel. The city already has a different feel from some of the countries’ other urban destinations and the addition of a European touch gives the local market a feel that there are somewhere very different, even without leaving the country. At present, the resort is attracting primarily the local mass market, but Han said it does believe that the Philippines will benefit from the ongoing turmoil in Macau, regarding travel restrictions and the collapse of the VIP market. “I strongly believe that the Philippines will get a chunk of this, especially the junket, or VIP market and that’s why I’m adding quite a significant number of tables there,” he said, explaining that the jurisdiction initially is likely to benefit as high-end players cannot enter Macau, but further ahead he still believes that there will be high-end demand from China. “I don’t think that means that the urge for these players to play will go away with that kind of restriction by the Chinese government. They’ll find a way, some of them may go underground, and some will try to look for different jurisdictions.” Singapore may benefit, but is highly regulated and it is difficult for junket operators to function, so they are likely to go to the Philippines, he said. Han also plans to take advantage of the Philippines’ casinos ability to offer online gaming through a POGO license.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


Joe Pisano

More action needed to quash rampant illegal gambling Despite government efforts, the illegal gambling market in the Philippines is thriving, with turnover likely to be in the trillions of pesos. Joe Pisano, CEO of Jade Entertainment, writes that the public and the government need to take more action to combat the problem and reap the benefits the industry can provide.


he gaming industry in the Philippines is a cash cow for the government, generating billions and billions of gross profits and significantly contributing to the country’s tax revenue. According to the regulatory body, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), the organization is now hitting its gross gaming revenue (GGR) target, generating about P17 billion ($321.5 million) from January to April 2022. PAGCOR Chair and CEO Andrea Domingo has said that by the end of the year, it may be possible to have about P60 to P65 billion of GGR which is almost twice as much as last year. Generally, any money-making gaming facility in the Philippines must be licensed and subject to government laws. Despite the efforts of past administrations to regulate, illegal gambling is everywhere and growing. President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 13, which defined illegal gaming and appointed the

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to be the two leading agencies to fight and suppress illegal gambling operations in the country. However, there is an uncounted number of illegal online betting sites in the Philippines and on social media, people can sign up and place a bet without the proper player verification process. What makes it more convenient are the payment gateways. A player can add funds to an account with just a click of the fingertips. Advanced cash-in/cash-out channels paved the way for easy account funding and withdrawal. Social media has also been exhausted by acquisition agents as a marketing tool to encourage player registration. Just recently, President Duterte terminated the operations of e-Sabong, or online cockfighting, citing social implications and moral damages to its patrons after more than 30 players went missing. It cannot be denied that authorized legal gambling contributes greatly to the Philippines’ economy. Casinos,


for example, increase indirect tax revenue, through the creation of jobs. They also provide establishments for other businesses such as restaurants, cafés and shops. This is what our country needs to pump up our economy and illegal gaming operations are taking it away from us. Consider the vast amount of revenue that could be raised and how many jobs could be created if the government were able to license and regulate these widespread illegal operators. The illegal market has grown despite efforts to expand legalization. And Consumers sometimes might not even be aware they are betting through unregulated sites. The only sites licensed and regulated by PAGCOR are listed below We encourage the general public to report illegal sites to the PNP, NBI, and if they are using social media to solicit bets and registration, alert the platform provider that the site is being used for illegal activities. We also encourage the central bank to control the flow of cash from illegal sites via payment gateways. The authorities can also alert the offshore licensing jurisdiction that their licensee is operating illegally in a foreign jurisdiction. The illegal gambling market could now be in the trillions of pesos annually and the country is not reaping the benefit of that income and consumers are not being protected. I ask the 13 licensees listed above to assist the government to report any illegal activity

and help protect the industry and consumers. In this age, most people live for pleasure and entertainment. Where gaming is normalized and frequently practiced, it has become a significant large-scale business. Service Provider

Gaming Activity

The general public, social media platforms, and payment gateways can assist the government to implement laws and eradicate the illegal operators, only then the country can fully reap the fruits of its earning power. Game Offering / Registered Domains / URLs Remote Gaming Platform

Inter-active Entertainment Electronic Games Solutions Technologies, Inc. (IEST).

InstaWin / Inplay

Kirschner Games International (KGI).

Electronic Games


PhilWeb Corporation (PhilWeb)

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Orient Capital Ventures Inc. (OCVI) Sports Betting

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Jade Entertainment and Gaming Technologies Inc. (Jade)

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Total Gamezone Xtreme Incorporated (TGXI)

Electronic Games


Glowlight Corporation (Glowlight)

Sports Betting


Electronic Games

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Electronic Bingo Sports Betting Breddas Inc

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Infinitech Digital Gaming Corporation (IDGC)

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Electronic Games Trojans Well Entertainment Corp. (TWEC)

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HHR Philippines, Inc. (HPI)

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Las Casas Gaming, Inc. (LCGI)

Sports Betting


SolidLeisure Solutions Inc. (SLSI)

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Sandbox Entertainment Corp. (SEC)

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FBM E-Motion

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Memo Multinational Corp. (MMC)

Electronic Bingo Electronic Games

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


Cebu marks milestone with opening of first IR Cebu is home to the Philippines’ newest integrated resort, with the NUSTAR Resort & Casino opening its doors in May, though some observers say there needs to be more critical mass for the area to reach its full potential as an international gaming destination.


ebu province is located in the Central Visayas district of the Philippines and has a population of around 3.3 million. It consists of Cebu Island itself, as well as about 150 other smaller islands fringed by white-sand beaches. It is one of three key areas that the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) has loosely designated as a gaming hub, with the others being Entertainment City in Manila and Clark towards the north of the capital.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

The area is already the second-most important tourism market in the Philippines, enjoying strong support from the South Korea market in particular. In 2019, Cebu, which hosts the new Mactan International Airport, was second to Manila in terms of direct foreign arrivals by air, accounting for 20 percent of the total, while the city was one of the most visited in the Philippines, according to the Department of Tourism. In addition to NUSTAR, which is owned by Universal Hotels & Resorts, the area is home to several


region (around 50M people),” Sueiro said. “It also has a modern international airport that before the pandemic was servicing more than 30 international destinations, for example eight daily flights to Seoul. On top of this our property is on the beach, a truly vacation destination.” Gaming lawyer, Katrina Nepucemo agrees that Cebu’s central location gives it a natural advantage, while it has also become a hub for both business and tourism outside of Manila. “It has a bigger population than Pampanga where Clark is and less competition,” she said. “It’s also closest to Mindanao Island, which has no existing IR nearby.” NUSTAR Resort resort will feature three hotel towers. Tower 1 will be ultra high-end, while Tower 2 will be five star and Tower 3 for the MICE market. It will also feature a commercial and retail centre that will bring in

It has a bigger population than Pampanga where Clark is and less competition.

PAGCOR-operated casinos, with the largest being Waterfront in Cebu City. A second international-scale resort is under construction, but its opening has been delayed due to Covid. PH Resorts Chief Operating Officer, Angel Sueiro, said the company is now pushing hard to turnaround the situation and open the Emerald Bay resort at “the expected quality levels.” Without Emerald Bay, Cebu may not have enough critical mass in the shorter term to attract gamers away from Manila, said Scott Feeney, of GCG Gaming Advisory Services. “Cebu should in the longer term offer something for the international market but Emerald and NuStar would need to be both open and this could be late 2023 at the earliest with Emerald’s continued delays,” he said. “NuStar will be the only major international casino in Cebu until then and this may adversely affect their performance with the international and Manila customers perhaps not gravitating towards Cebu with just the one integrated resort.

“I do not see Cebu having the success of Clark or Entertainment City until at least 2024 if Emerald is operating and at that point Cebu would only make up as low as 5 percent of the overall Philippines market,” he added. Still, one of the appeals of the Philippines market is that it enjoys strong support from domestic players. Operators are already seeing a strong recovery in gross gambling revenue since properties began operating without restrictions since the beginning of March, even with a limited contribution from tourists. PAGCOR said its 1Q22 revenue gained 39 percent as Covid restrictions were gradually lifted during the quarter. It posted PHP12.41 billion ($236 million), up from PHP8.92 in the same quarter a year earlier. The figure was 3.2 percent ahead of its budget for the period. Industry-wide GGR was PHP39.1 billion, up from PHP30 billion in the same period a year ago. “Cebu represents a great local market, not just Cebu metropolitan area but also as the capital and main city of the Visayas Mindanao

luxury retail and food options, a first for Cebu. Ultimately, the casino will feature 1,500 gaming machines and 250 tables, once fully rolled out. Emerald Bay will be constructed in two phases. The first phase of Emerald Bay is expected to have approximately 4,514 square meters of aggregate gaming floor area, with approximately 600 electronic gaming machines, 122 gaming tables, a five-star hotel, with 270 hotel bays, an open-air promenade, five F&B outlets, and one pool complementing a partially completed 300-meter-long beachfront that will be open to resort guests. The second phase is expected to have approximately 8,210 square meters of aggregate gaming floor area, with 729 electronic gaming machines, 146 gaming tables, a five-star hotel with 780 hotel bays, including five villas, four pools, approximately 16 F&B outlets covering an area of approximately 11,186 square meters, and MICE facilities of approximately 1,558 square meters.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


Clark’s MICE ambitions a further boost for casino hub The Philippines Department of Tourism is seeking to position the Clark Freeport Zone as a destination for MICE with its sister city designated for sports tourism, which may provide a further boost to the region’s already thriving casino industry.


he Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ) is in Central Luzon about 100 km north of the capital Manila. The zone is built on a former U.S. airbase, which provided a strong foundation for the city’s infrastructure. The wider Clark Special Economic Zone is home to New Clark City, which has a population of about 1.2 million. The area is well connected with a highway link to the capital and a new airport terminal that opened in May with capacity to handle eight million passengers. The CFZ is already home to some 1,153 companies. It has 80 convention halls, 3,648 hotel rooms, 126 dining facilities, and 45 tourism attractions such as Clark Safari, Clark Bike Path, Clark Museum and Theater, Aqua Planet, Clark International Speedway, and Dinosaurs Island.

Clark seems to be “ the obvious location for exponential growth.

“Through the help of the private sector, the goal is to transform the CFZ into a preferred business and tourism destination in the Asia-Pacific region and enable investors to find long-term economic returns,” Department of Tourism regional director Caroline Uy was reported as saying by local media following a tourism investment summit in June. The zone is also one of the areas that the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corp. has designated as a casino hub and currently has six operating casinos. Prior to the pandemic in 2019, the zone’s casinos generated PHP12.17 billion ($227 million) in gross gambling revenues, compared with the PHP167.17 billion generated by the properties in Manila’s Entertainment City. However, in terms of growth from the prior year, Clark was far outpacing the capital with a gain of 48 percent, compared with 18 percent.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

“Clark now has its world-class airport and is well setup to capture at least 10 percent of the overall Philippines market with the recovery this year,” said Scott Feeney, a director with GCG Gaming Advisory Services. As with all casinos in the Philippines, the zone benefits from a strong local player base. Now the


country is also seeing the return of tourists, with Clark having long been a favorite for the Korean market, which has been pulled in by the attraction of its multiple golf courses. “Korean investors are involved with Midori Hotel & Casino, D’Heights and Hann Casino and are doing exceptionally well over and above the competing Fontana, Royce and Casablanca casino properties,” Feeney said. The casinos in the zone tend to be $1-$2 billion properties and won’t be able to compete head on with the sprawling integrated resorts in Entertainment City in terms of hotels, gaming space and retail offerings. But Feeney says they do offer a “fantastic choice of casino resorts in a beautiful location,” which is something Manila’s casinos cannot offer.

“On the gaming floor EGM’s have always been a great strength with 35 percent of the total GGR, along with the mass and premium table games with the locals, expat community, dual citizens from Japan, China, Korea, also fundamental to their success.” The area’s casinos are estimated to generate between $180 million - $200 million in GGR this year, with the newly revamped Hann Casino likely to take up to 50 percent of the market share, he adds. “Clark seems to be the obvious location for exponential growth.” The Philippines is tipped to be the fastestgrowing casino market in Asia this year with strong pent-up demand from locals, coupled with gradually increasing tourism traffic. Outside of Entertainment City, Clark is

seen as likely to be the strongest performer due to its international connectivity and critical mass of existing casinos. Elsewhere in the Philippines, operators are also noting rising business levels. David Lawrence, casino general manager at Thunderbird Resorts said he expects a further pick up as flight schedules are ramped up and other countries reduce their quarantine requirements. The company operates a casino in Rizal, close to Manila, and a Spanish-styled resort on the Western coast at Poro Point. “While we see these main hubs as continuing to gain momentum other destinations such as ours also have a place in the market due to their unique designs and locations,” he said, referring to Clark and Cebu.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022





Borders reopening, but casinos face labor, maintenance woes Cambodia was one of the first countries in Asia to welcome back international travelers, though its border casinos are struggling to reopen amidst staff and building maintenance issues.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022




he country allowed the return of international travelers by air from mid-November and reopened its borders with Thailand from May 1st, although some testing requirements remain on the Thai side. There has also been an agreement to reopen with Vietnam. Law firm Dezan Shira & Associates says the border relaxation will be a boost to Cambodia’s tourism sector, which plays a vital role in the country’s economic growth, contributing to some 12 percent of GDP annually. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic saw international traveler numbers decrease by 80 percent from 6.6 million visitors to 1.3 million in 2020. Early signs are promising with the number of tourist arrivals to the world heritage Angkor Wat rocketing by 622 percent to 33,205 in the first four months of this year, generating about $1.35 million in revenue. In April alone, 13,365 travelers visited the famous destination. Cambodia’s border casinos are almost wholly reliant on foot traffic from either Thailand, or Vietnam. They have been closed since April last year. However, many are reportedly not in a position to reopen. Speaking to the Khmer Times recently, Ros Phearun, deputy-director general of the Finance Ministry of Cambodia said there have been several hurdles facing border casinos wanting to reopen. “I have noticed that some owners wish


to resume their business operations, but it is still impossible because [their] facilities were closed down for a long time. They also need to hire people for work.” Phearun said that many casinos in border towns, particularly in Bhavet and Poipet have yet to apply to renew their license, though casinos in other regions have already resumed operations due to an increase in tourism. Phearun said some casinos need to renovate their buildings due to a lack of maintenance over the years, whilst others face a labor shortage. Hak Vy, a hotel manager at Titan King Casino Hotel and Resort in Bavet City, told Khmer Times that the lack of maintenance has damaged some casino facilities. “I think it would be difficult to recruit the staff back because we have lost contact with many of them. Others might have switched to other sectors, including factories,” he said. Australia-listed Donaco International has said it is ready to reopen its Star Vegas casino in Poipet once it gets the green light from the government. The company said 1Q22 had been yet another bumpy quarter and it has pared costs to the bone and is taking other measures to protect its balance sheet until it can open its doors. Still, Donaco has said it sees light at the end of the tunnel. “The March quarter has been another challenging period for Donaco,” said non-ex-


(units in US$’000)

Premium Mass

572 375

Electronic Gaming Machines


212 182

Referral VIP

280 243

13 8


1078 808 (Source: Nagacorp)

Human rights groups call for scrapping of internet gateway decree Thirty-two human rights groups have called for a controversial plan to establish a national internet gateway (NIG) into the country to be scrapped due to concerns over human rights and freedom of information. The sub-decree would allow governmentappointed NIG operators to block or disconnect online connections, retain traffic data for a year and provide information requested by the authorities. “While the exact technical infrastructure and how it will be operated is still unknown, there is little doubt the NIG’s true purpose is to enable the Cambodian government to tighten the noose on what remains of internet freedom in the country,” the groups said. The NIG was due to have been put in place in February, but has been put on hold.

ecutive Chairman Paul Porntat. “We are ready to resume our Star Vegas casino as conditions improve and once we receive the go ahead from government authorities. As we wait for this to happen we are exploring additional options to protect the balance sheet and guarantee that the business remains in a sustainable position until broader conditions improve.” “We are almost at the end of this bumpy journey,” he added. The company reiterated that it has repaid in full a loan facility with lender Mega Bank International and that its cash burn in the quarter was within its targets.” Donaco said it was borrowing $5 million from CEO and executive director Lee Bug Huy, who has made an investment decision to offer financial assistance to the company while casino operations remain limited. Cambodia’s largest property, NagaCorp’s Nagaworld in Phnom Penh, has fared better than other casinos during the pandemic due to support from the local expatriate community. The company said it had continued to see its business recover in the first three months, with its EBITDA surging 83.3 percent to $60.5 from the final quarter of last year. Overall gross gambling revenue came in at $1 million, up 33.4 percent sequentially. The mass table business surged 52.5 percent to $572 million, while premium mass was up 16.5 percent at $212 million. Referral VIP gained 62.5 percent to $13 million.

NagaCorp shakes up management roles NagaCorp is changing the composition of its senior level management, with the chief executive role helmed by Dr. Chen Lip Keong split into four parts and the new positions handed to his sons. The company said the move was aimed at injecting “new vitality” into the management of the group. Under the re-designation founder and former CEO Tan Sri Dr. Chen Lip Keong has moved to the position of senior chief executive officer. Mr. Chen Yiy Fon, Dr. Chen’s son and an executive director of the company, has taken the role of chief executive officer – operations. Aged 41, Chen Yiy Fong has served the company since 2005 as an executive assistant to the founder and subsequently appointed as a nonexecutive director of the company from May 2009 to February 2011. Another son, Mr. Chen Cherchi has moved from his role as managing director of finance and operations to chief executive officer – finance and treasury. A third son, Mr. Chen Yiy Hwuan, has been appointed chief executive officer – hotels.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022



Long road for international tourism recovery Vietnam is open for business, however international tourism levels are still far below their pre-pandemic peak.


he country welcomed 172,900 foreign Casino on Phu Quoc in the south and a still arrivals in May, up 70.6 percent under construction property in Van Don in month-on-month and 12.8-fold year- the far north. The government recently said it would expand on-year. The five-month cumulative figure is up four and a half times from last year, its three-year pilot program allowing locals to but still 95 percent below the same period in gamble for another two years and extend the 2019, according to the General Statistics Office. privilege to two other resorts, though industry May’s numbers were boosted by the Southeast watchers said they do not expect there to be a Asian games, which were hosted by Vietnam free-for-all when it comes to locals gambling. The two properties to be added to the from May 12th to 23rd, as well as a new tourism campaign. In 2019, the country welcomed about scheme are Sun Group’s Sun World Ba Na Hills, and a new development 18 million visitors. from VinPearl on Hon However, soaring Tre Island in Nha Trang. prices, coupled with ongoing travel restrictions Russia was also Bothofthelocaldevelopers were given the go ahead in some major markets, a major source under the original scheme such as China are for two of their other dampening demand. market for Vietnam developments. Russia was also a major and is effectively More recently, the source market for Vietnam and is effectively closed closed off following local government in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh off following the invasion the invasion of City put forward the idea of Ukraine. of allowing casinos in Ukraine. Therehasbeendemand the city’s five-star hotels, from U.S. travelers, but with locals access. The currently visa-free travel administration is looking is only available for 15 days and many long-haul travelers want to stay at measures to stimulate nightlife in the city and longer. Groups from Singapore and Thailand kick start the economy post Covid. Local media reported that the proposals are also visiting. Domestic travel demand on the other hand have been sent to the city’s National Assembly. The report said that locals over 18 and has been strong. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the country tourists would be permitted to gamble in the has one of the fastest-growing domestic aviation casinos under the proposals. However, Nguyen Thi Hong Hanh, Deputy markets. In the first six months of this year there Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department were 38.9 million domestic arrivals. Vietnam expects to receive 87.8 million of Justice, warned that there are conflicting passengers entering through airports nationwide opinions about allowing locals to gamble and in 2022, including 82.8 million domestic travelers therefore the suggestion needed careful review. There are currently no casinos in Vietnam’s and five million foreign arrivals, with the latter two major cities, although there are about 10 to figure being the lowest in just over a decade. Industry watchers see bright prospects for 15 VIP clubs that feature slot machines in fiveVietnam’s integrated resorts, however, they are star hotels. Tim Shepherd, director of Fortuna wholly reliant on a pick up in foreign tourism. Investments, has previously told AGB that he Most of Vietnam’s casino resorts are restricted sees a strong future for these properties as the to foreigners apart from the Corona Resort & expatriate business community swells.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022



(units in million)

20 15 10 5 0







(Source: World Tourism Association)

TKHS sees Vietnam as Asia bright spot for hospitality TKHS Group, which has been in Vietnam since 2017, said it has made a major investment in the country by forming a joint venture company, TKHS Global Logistics (Vietnam) Co. The business incorporates the existing Vietnamese business of TKHS Group as well as that of its local partner formerly known as Global Logistics and Express Co., Ltd. The newly formed company is poised for success and well-positioned to provide a consistently high level of service for its customer base in Vietnam, under the local leadership of CEO Mr. Trong Huynh, former CEO of Global Logistics and Express Co., Ltd. Mr. Trong has 15 years experience in handling the shipping, importation and local delivery of hospitality and gaming equipment as well as other commodities, navigating through the complex customs clearance requirements of Vietnam. The company now maintains offices in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as Hanoi and Danang, providing sea freight, airfreight, customs clearance, local delivery and installation services. Furthermore, existing, scalable warehouse operations are in place in Ho Chi Minh City and Danang. The company currently has a market share of over 70 percent of all gaming equipment imports into Vietnam and also caters to other customers with complex, time-critical requirements such as Nokia for which TKHS is handling all warehousing and distribution in Vietnam. TKHS Vietnam is now able to offer full importation services into Vietnam as well as distribution services.

Pre-departure test requirements dropped Vietnam has dropped its requirement for foreign travelers entering the country to be tested for Covid-19 prior to entry, VNExpress reports. The new rules from the Ministry of Health came into effect on Sunday, May 15, 2022. Previously, anyone entering Vietnam needed to present a negative PCR test for Covid-19 within 72 hours prior to departure, or 24 hours if a rapid test is done. Vietnam economists urged the government to lift the Covid-19 test requirements for foreigners and expand its visa exemption list for travelers from certain countries such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, India, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States. The group proposed that rapid Covid-19 testing at border gates should only be done for those entering the country that have shown symptoms such as cough or fever.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022





Star sees board clearout after Bell Inquiry revelations Heads have rolled at Star Entertainment after a probe in New South Wales revealed “sharp business practices” and a corporate culture that put profit over governance responsibilities.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


ustralia’s inquiries into wrongdoing at its two leading casinos are now well into the third year, with shocking allegations having emerged of money laundering, deliberate attempts to mislead banking partners and regulators, and a culture that courted dubious characters in an all out bid to bring in the Chinese whales. Crown Resorts was found unsuitable to hold its license in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia after the Bergin Inquiry and two Royal Commissions. It was forced to completely overhaul its board of directors and revamp its internal controls and governance practices. Now it’s Star’s turn. Testimony in the Bell Inquiry is ongoing and scheduled to wrap up at the end of August after a string of damning evidence from senior managers and executives. Counsel Naomi Sharp SC has recommended that the operator be found unsuitable to hold its Sydney license. The company has been left largely rudderless after Chairman John O’Neill became the latest high-profile departure in late May. He had been acting as CEO since March after Matt Bekier stepped down to take responsibility for the problems at the group. The company said recently promoted Chief Casino Officer Geoff Hogg would be acting CEO, and board member Ben Heap would be interim chairman to fill the void, while it seeks permanent replacements. Other key players who have announced their resignations include Harry Theodore, who has served as chief financial officer, Greg Hawkins, chief casino officer, and Paula Martin, chief legal and risk officer. Longserving board members Gerard Bradley and Sally Pitkin are also departing. Bradley has been a member of the board for nine years and is the chairman of Queensland Treasury Corporation and related companies, having served for 14 years as Under Treasurer and Under Secretary of the Queensland Treasury Department. Pitkin, who also sits on Link Group’s board and chairs Super Retail Group, told the inquiry there was “a recognition that a new board needs to lead the company through the reform process into the future” at Star and that she had offered to be “the first director to step down”. She told the probe that a wide-reaching clean out was under way, starting with the most senior staff. Star said it has recognised that it needs


to speed up the changes, although it has also said that it has to ensure ongoing stability. In addition to a corporate overhaul, the company has also announced it was suspending all domestic and international rebate play programs. The VIP segment and the association with Macau’s junket agents are at the root of the problems at both operators. The issues were uncovered by an Australian investigative news team which began looking into links between the operators and the junket business. Much of the attention at Star has focused on the misuse of China UnionPay cards, which cannot be used for gambling purposes. Players at the Star Sydney put some $900 million on the cards, which were passed off as hotel and other travel expenses. When questioned about the practices, managers were disingenuous in their responses, with some claiming that they didn’t think the “work around” breached the rules. Hawkins admitted on the stand that the group’s Sydney casino engaged in “sharp” business practices that weren’t appropriate conduct. The relationship with Macau’s Suncity was also put under the spotlight, with the probe hearing that the junket had been able to operate a cage, even though that was against the casino’s rules. It heard of bags of cash regularly being brought into the premises and that when Suncity employees were questioned about their practices they were not forthcoming. Security camera footage was shown of a man unloading cash, which was put through a money counting machine and then placed in a draw under a counter. Other pieces of video footage showed similar images of large bundles of cash being unpacked from various pieces of luggage and of cash in paper bags being exchanged for chips. CEO Bekier told the media in 2019 that Star had ceased dealing with Suncity following the various allegations that surfaced in the media. Whereas in reality, the junket had moved to an unbranded room within the casino. In April 2018 Star senior investigator Andrew McGregor wrote an internal report saying activities with “Suncity have been very strange” and where we have “an entity between our four walls, which is totally non-compliant to reasonable requests for basic information.” “I’m going to call it out early. Suncity is operating a business model under our noses, which is problematic for Star Entertainment Group with regards to AML CTF laws.”

QUEENSLAND GGR May 21 Clubs Hotels

May 22 $100.7m $109.9m $127.9m $151.0m


$228.6m $260.9m (Courtesy: Wohlsen Consulting)

Crown credit rating intact after regulator fine: Fitch Crown Resorts’ strong financial profile has helped it to weather the Covid crisis and still maintain a buffer that will allow it to absorb regulatory fines at its current rating level, Fitch said. The credit ratings agency commented after the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission imposed an $80 million fine on the operator over the illegal use of China UnionPay cards. Crown warned that there may be further punitive actions to come from the VCGLR related to other findings from a recent Royal Commission inquiry that could carry penalties of up to $100 million each. It is also subject to another investigation from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center over money-laundering breaches. Fitch said the fine will increase Crown’s FFO adjusted net leverage by 0.2X to 0.4X, well below the 3.0 X where the firm would take negative ratings action.

Queensland ups gambling penalties Queensland has announced tougher gambling laws, including stiffer disciplinary penalties of up to A$50 million ($35.3 million). Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said the proposed reforms in the Casino Control and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 will help prevent criminal influence and exploitation in the state’s casinos. “This Bill will ensure Queenslanders can have confidence in the integrity of our casino laws,” the Attorney said in a press statement. “These reforms are considered to be examples of best practice casino regulation and will be in place before the opening of the new casino at Queen’s Wharf to be operated by The Star.” The amendments to the bill will also include measures to minimize gambling harm and will help to speed the transition to cashless gambling.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022





Meghalaya opens for gambling to boost tourism The new kid on the block when it comes to gambling in India is the northern state of Meghalaya, which recently enacted legislation that will permit all forms of gambling.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022




he Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming 100. Meghalaya, which is in the northeast of the Act 2021 was enacted in March last country, came out on top with a score of 92.85. year and notified on Dec. 1st. The Sikkim had a score of 85.71, while Andhra government has said that it has already Pradesh, which only allows physical horse racing, had three applications for online licenses. came in last with 7.14. The state is in the far northeast of India and “Meghalaya came out on top in terms of our was formerly part of Assam. During British rule, polls, but there are many other states where we it was nicknamed Scotland of the East, due to hope they will be following suit moving forward,” its cooler climate and high rainfall. The largely Chris Heyes, UKIBC director and one of the agrarian economy was hit hard by the Covid authors of the report recently told AGB. crisis and its government is seeking to boost The UKIBC study highlighted the significant high-end tourism in the state. potential benefits to the governments and local “As we have seen in many states, this venture economies from gambling legalization. In has positive impacts not just in terms of GST Sikkim for example, it found that gross gambling revenues but also in terms of generating a lot revenue in the year to March 2019 for sports of employment opportunities from the vibrant betting operators was about INR230 million tourism industry,” Taxation Minister James Sangma (GBP2.3 million). recently told PTI in relation to the decision to These activities resulted in INR 50 million regulate gaming. (GBP 500,000) annually Locals will not be in license fees and permitted to gamble either INR 65 million (GBP online, or in any eventual 650,000) in GST revenue Meghalaya casino, which is likely to in Sikkim alone. limit the appeal. The state To put this in context, came out on top in is difficult to reach and Sikkim is the thirdterms of our polls, infrastructure is poor, smallest state in India limiting its attraction as a by GDP, generating INR but there are many luxury travel destination. 222 billion (GBP 2.2 other states where Tourists or business billion) in FY 2018-19, we hope they will travelers will be asked making Sports Betting a to produce documents considerable contribution be following suit similar to those requested to the economy, it says. If moving forward. by banks for know-yourMaharashtra, for instance, customer requirements were to legalize Sports before they can gamble. Betting, this could generate Gambling for locals INR 124 billion (GBP 1.2 does exist under an archery-based lottery system. billion) in extra license fees and GST revenues This practice was legalized some forty years ago based on Sikkim’s experience. and is a strong contributor to the state’s coffers. Still, the road to full legalization in India The Khasi Hills Archery Sports Association is likely to be a long one, with stops and starts organizes the lottery, which involves 12 archery along the way. Many commentators are calling clubs. Each day 50 archers shoot 30 arrows each on the central government to create a central at 3:45 pm and 20 arrows in the second round framework that would at least provide a model for at 4:45 pm. Bettors predict the last two digits of individual states to follow should they decide to the total number of arrows that hit the target. legalize, especially when it comes to skill–based A recent report by the U.K. India Business gambling, which has been deemed as legal by Council found that Meghalaya, along with the Supreme Court. nearby Sikkim are two of the most gambling “Courts have made it clear that skill gaming friendly states in India. cannot be banned,” India’s National Law Review The non-profit business advisory group wrote in a recent paper. “For reasons stated based its conclusions on more than 2,100 above, there is an urgent need to regulate skill questionnaires that were distributed to operators gaming and control illegal activities. State laws and users across 15 Indian states. The surveys are not effective nor desirable.” covered seven areas of the gambling industry It concluded that a central law and a clear and investigated elements such as player profiles, and well-regulated regime would help to attract habits, operator revenue, and commission. more foreign investment into an already booming It then compiled an index of which states industry. It would also help to hold operators were most open to gaming, out of a scale of accountable to Indian law and protect consumers.




(units in Crores) Gaming Operations 210.66 249.65 211.87

Online Skill Gaming Operations 42.53 35.71 39.44

Hospitality and Other Operations 16.80 22.29 10.94 (Source: Delta Corp quarterly revenue)

Delta FY4Q profit hit by Omicron restrictions Delta Corp., India’s largest casino operator, posted a 17 percent decline in fiscal 4Q22 profit due to the impact of the Omicron variant on visitation. The company reported net profit of 48.11 crore in the three months to end-March. Revenue from gaming operations during the period edged slightly lower to 210.66 crore from 211.87 crore, while revenue from the group’s online operations rose nearly 8 percent from the same period a year earlier to 42.53 crore, while the online operations were also up sequentially from 35.71 crore in the prior quarter. Delta, which operates floating casinos in Goa, a casino in Sikkim and Nepal and a hotel in Daman, also said it would pay a dividend of 1.25 per share. The casino operations were allowed to operate at 100 percent capacity in Goa from 7th March 2022 and in Sikkim from 11th February 2022. The casino in Nepal is also operating without any restrictions as of 28th February, 2022.

Goa casino commissioner rules finally ready Goa has finalized rules that will streamline and regulate casinos in the state and set out the powers of the casino commissioner. The regulations have been forwarded to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant for final approval, according to local media reports. The government appointed the commissioner of commercial taxes as gaming commissioner in 2019, but the rules setting out his mandate were not drawn up. The commissioner will exercise overall control over all games conducted in the casinos and keep records.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


It’s Showtime!! After a two-year hiatus, the ASEAN Gaming Summit is finally returning to Manila in a new venue at Shangri-la at The Fort.


t’s a good time to be in the Philippines, which is expected to be one of the strongest jurisdictions in Asia this year. Entertainment City is expected to be back at its peak levels by the end of next year, driven by mass and premium mass business, says Eric Coskun, director of casino projects at IGamiX Management & Consulting. Coskun said his figures are erring on the cautious side and the PHP141.43 billion ($2.7 billion) level achieved in Entertainment City in 2018 could be reached this year if international tourism flows are strong. Add to that the potential for growth in online

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

gaming with the rollout of the PIGO licenses and it’s easy to see why suppliers are keen to get into the Philippines, especially as Macau remains largely shut off to outside of Greater China. In these pages, we will hear from a range of landbased and online gaming companies, who showcase their latest product offerings and what they have noted as the Philippines and Asia reopen for business. We’re hearing about exciting new progressive ranges for the Asian market, as well as the ongoing popularity of electronic table games. But most of all, many tell us about how keen they are to finally meet again in person in Asia.


Dominating esports sponsorship


he world of betting is always dynamically changing and adapting to current trends. Bookmakers are integrating modern technologies into their business, inventing new types of bets and responding to breaking news. For a long time, esports has been a very competitive area for betting brands. Bookmakers are trying their best to be present at the biggest tournaments and become sponsors of the top esports teams. After all, the prize pools and the audience for such tournaments are already so large that they can compete with traditional sports such as basketball or hockey. If you’ve followed recent news, you must have noted that at least one bookmaker has managed to occupy a large part of the sponsorship niche in esports, and the name of this bookmaker is 1xBet. Today, 1xBet continues to cooperate with ESL - the organiser of the largest esports tournaments in the world. Not a single major tournament under the auspices of ESL takes place without the support of 1xBet. The parties began cooperation in 2021 and continue to work together even now. The bookmaker’s clients feel the benefits of this partnership because 1xBet always launches promotions for tournaments where gaming prizes are up for grabs - from gaming computers to CS:GO skins. 1xBet has entered into agreements with leading teams in two regions Powerful 1xBet partnerships continue to impress - now in Europe with OG and Team Spirit, plus in Latin America with MiBR. With such an impressive array of sponsorships, 1xBet is sure to excel further in 2022. All three teams signed partnership agreements in the spring,

and the further success of these teams will be connected, among other things, by the support of a new sponsor. “We set ourselves the goal of becoming leaders among bookmakers in the world of esports. It looks like we are succeeding. But this is not the limit of our capabilities yet, and we intend to further develop in this direction,” Alex Sommers, a representative of 1xBet, expressed optimistically. Although 1xBet has not yet signed the giants of esports in Asia, work in this direction is already underway. And a prime example of 1xBet’s intentions is a partnership with the prominent

team from Myanmar, Yangon Galacticos. The bookmaker not only sponsors the team but also actively interacts within the framework of promotional campaigns, special offers and other activities. The last of them was a drawing of merchandise with the symbols of both brands, in which more than 600 fans of the team took part. Now we see how strong the position of 1xBet is in the world of esports. And this means at least one thing - the management of the leading bookmaker sees great potential in the development of esports disciplines. It is likely that esports will continue to grow in popularity, and 1xBet has captured this moment very studiously.


Asia-facing business licenses on the rise


he Alderney eGambling team are unable to attend the ASEAN Gaming Summit 2022 - the first time we have missed this fantastic event since it began. We are fully supportive of the show and look forward to hearing the feedback from everyone in attendance. We’ve had a busy few years assisting businesses with licensing from the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) and we have seen more Asia-based and Asia-facing businesses than ever looking to take advantage of the licensing opportunities from Alderney. Many have been looking to relocate operations

to the Island, spreading their concentration risk and benefiting from all that the jurisdiction has to offer to global businesses. Alderney, and its sister island, Guernsey, are welcoming of new tech businesses and offer a supportive government, stable political environment and a network of local agencies providing expertise to the eGaming sector. The license from the AGCC can be held by both Alderney companies and foreign companies and there is no requirement to base your business or servers in the jurisdiction. We already work with many businesses who

are taking advantage of this flexibility in order to benefit not only from Alderney’s world-renowned licensing regime but from the AGCC’s decades of experience in the eGaming industry. We hope to reconnect with everyone in person soon and are at the disposal of any delegates who wish to discover more about AGCC licensing. Please do not hesitate to contact us to arrange a call. We hope you have a great show!

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


Looking to a brighter future


acau recorded almost 137,000 visitor arrivals and MOP200 million in daily gaming revenue during the most recent Golden Week. Following a slight improvement in several tourism indices so far this year, APE is optimistic for a strong second half of 2022. APE earlier this year successfully launched the “Long Yi Fa” linked progressive from Jumbo Technology and “All Aboard” linked progressive slot from Konami Australia in

Macau. According to the feedback from casino operators, the products of these two brands have performed well, bringing a new impact to the linked slot machine players. APE has also expanded its footprint in overseas markets. APE is delighted to have installed 10 cabinets of Konami’s DIMENSION 27 and DIMENSION 49, and supported 8 game conversions on the gaming floor of an integrated resort in Cyprus developed by a famous IR group in Macau.

These games are also popular items in the United States and the Philippines. On the other hand, three of our best electronic table game performers, The Long Dragon Baccarat with an S-27 cabinet from Jumbo, Spintec Karma II and Spintec Aura electronic table game (known as Roulette with a European dealer) are also ready to launch their new games with brand-new features under Macau’s new 2.0 standard in the next quarter. Multiple inquiries about the products have been received from Macau and Southeast Asia. Aside from technical sales and distribution, APE’s consulting and technical services and repair services have also recorded 61.9 percent and 150.5 percent in revenue growth in 1Q22 from the prior year. APE has also diversified its business for more opportunities. In 2021, APE began a smart vending machine business named “KatKatMall” and a coffee machine brand “Katffee”, selling Macau-sourced products and instant coffee drinks for the mass market in Macau and the Greater Bay Area. In 2022, APE made its first foray into a digital marketing business called “Resortverse” which is a new type of travel and resort metaverse portal.


BBIN Supports TGB Charity #Sustainability Week in June


ustainable development is becoming the new norm. Global consumers are more eco-conscious than ever. The ongoing evolution of organic has progressed from food to fashion and more to come. TGB Charity, a subsidiary charity brand of BBIN, has launched #Sustainability Week on its social media. In June, sustainability topics that are closely related to our everyday lives were discussed on the TGB Charity Instagram account. Participants were invited to join the discussion, find out more about sustainability through the puzzle game, and have a chance of winning a sustainable giveaway from June 1 to June 10. During SustainabilityWeek, TGB Charity initiated discussion of current issues and the challenges moving forward on various sustainability topics. It also introduced ways individuals can help protect the environment. People are starting to live a more sustainable lifestyle and showing more interest in learning about the environment.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

BBIN hopes to raise public awareness on the importance of sustainable development, and

invites everyone to join the sustainability movement to protect our planet.


Tian Ci Jin Lu to debut in the Philippines & Macau


layers and operators in Macau and the Philippines love Aristocrat Gaming’s 5 Dragons slot game. Recently, Aristocrat released an all-new game in this family, 5 Dragons Pearl, and player response to the game has been exceptional, with the game performing well above house average, according to data from operators. 5 Dragons Pearl builds on the strength of the player-favorite 5 Dragons theme and adds exciting new features, including compound multipliers where players can win up to 400x! This exciting game is available on several of Aristocrat’s cabinets, including MarsX, Arc Single, Behemoth, and Helix+. Denominations range from 1c to $10. Coming soon to Macau and the Philippines is Aristocrat’s newest game, Tian Ci Jin Lu. This all-new game thrills players with four progressive linked jackpots plus one mystery standalone progressive, and a bet-up mechanic lets players win different jackpots. Six or more scattered symbols trigger Aristocrat’s industry-leading Hold & Spin feature, and an upgraded Hold & Spin feature creates even bigger wins. Adding to the fun is a randomly triggered mystery Hold & Spin feature, a metamorphic feature where coins pile up on the Temple’s steps as an indicator of the jackpot trigger, and an “Any Wilds” mechanic that can randomly trigger the jackpot feature. For information on 5 Dragons Pearl or Tian Ci Jin Lu, contact your Aristocrat representative. BETCONSTRUCT

Introducing Richie Roulette


dding new excitement to the industry, CreedRoomz by B etC onstruct is presenting a new twist on standard roulette

with the launch of the Richie Roulette game. The rules of the game are quite simple. The player wins if the ball covers the number

on which the bet was made. In order to attract as many players as possible, the game allows a Straight Up bettor to multiply the win by at least 15x-1,700x by buying up to 10 chances from 49 gold bricks called STARs that appear after the main betting time. To further spice up player engagement, the game offers one free STARs chance. The show game features a variety of betting options, attractive gameplay, and a user-friendly interface that will be convenient for both beginners and experienced players. The new addition of Richie Roulette to CreedRoomz’s diverse gaming portfolio is aimed at contributing to profits of operators who own live casino businesses. The game provides significant opportunities for revenue growth and long-term success.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


Keeping data secure


ounded over 20 years ago, Continent 8 is an award-winning, multi-jurisdictional, global network solutions provider that connects, manages, and secures the world’s most valuable information. We have data centers and strategic points of presence in over 85 connected locations spanning Europe, the Americas and Asia, and are expanding rapidly. Our carrier-grade network powers some of the biggest brands in iGaming. Our comprehensive product suite includes: Connect – the critical foundation for every online business is connectivity. From our network – which now spans more than 85 locations around the world – we connect people and the wider industry to critical data.

Manage – we take on the burden of infrastructure management through holistic monitoring, management and alerting. Our global, trained, experienced team are on hand 24/7 to look after your infrastructure and give you the peace of mind you need to concentrate on running and growing your business. Secure – we help our partners defend critical infrastructure against a growing number of cyber threats. We take a defensive, in-depth approach to security which includes DDoS and WAF/WAAP protection, MDR/EDR services, plus proven 24/7 SOC resources. To ensure the company delivers the best possible solution and service to our partners, we have been growing rapidly both in terms of the markets we serve as well as the Continent

8 team. Continent 8 has been independently validated as the most effective provider of low latency internet traffic termination throughout Asia, in addition to our ability to manage and deliver all aspects of secure infrastructure and internet traffic management throughout the region. We have also added significantly to our security product range with the addition of our Security Operations Center (SOC) and Security Event and Incident Management (SEIM). The ever-increasing threat of cybercrime is highly prevalent in the iGaming sector, and we have responded rapidly to this. For more information about Continent 8’s world-class product and services, visit www.


Minimize effort after gaming floor changes


asino video technology company Dallmeier has revolutionized how casino operators adapt their surveillance systems when changing the gaming floor layout. The transformation of gaming floors is part of everyday casino life. In most cases, many cameras must be readjusted. The readjustment of the cameras is usually done manually on the camera itself and thus generates a lot of work time and costs each time. The “Remote Positioning Dome (RPoD)” technology of the new Dallmeier DOMERA 5000 and 6000 cameras solves this problem: The installer can complete the entire setup of the camera in just a few minutes – from

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

any notebook. The automatic position sensor simplifies this even more, saving casino operators significant time and cost. In addition to the RPoD, the multi-talent DOMERA camera delivers the highest image quality even under the most demanding light conditions and – in the 6000 series – top notch video analytics results. Fitted with a high-performance SoC (System on Chip – the Video and analytic sensor), the DOMERA cameras can perform latest generation AI-based Edge analytics, where most of the neural network-based analytic calculations are performed in the camera (at the Edge), saving bandwidth and central

processing power. The reliable detection and classification of objects enables a whole range of analytic applications. This capability not only helps increase surveillance efficiency, but also sets the foundation for increasing profitability in areas such as hotel, food & beverages, or shopping. The DOMERA series offers high image quality with four or eight Megapixels, HDR functionality and extreme light sensitivity. The cameras are consequently ideally suited for indoor and outdoor use under difficult light conditions. The initial configuration and setup for the camera is browser-based and does not require any additional software.


Region in recovery post-Covid


n the past few months, many countries in Asia have opened their borders to international tourists and eased travel restrictions. The casinos in the Philippines are recovering with increasing gaming revenue during the past few months. There are also various new casino development projects in the Philippines, including Manila, Quezon City, Cebu and Clark. It’s definitely one of the most robust expansion and lucrative markets in Asia! Casinos in other countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam, are benefiting from border opening too.

Many casinos are operating at full capacity, and gradually returning to pre-covid levels of business and gaming revenues. It is expected that the casino business in Korea will resume after June 1stwith visa-free travel for fully-vaccinated travelers from most countries. In general there are good reasons to be optimistic in most Asian countries that gaming revenue will rebound to reach pre-Covid levels. Macau casinos are still greatly affected by the “dynamic zero-covid” policy of China. The international borders are still closed and

the gaming revenue in Macau has been going down for the last nine consecutive quarters. G+D, as a long-term partner of casinos, supports casino cage and count room operations with the most efficient banknote processing system and software. Additionally, we can also offer cashless payment solutions for casinos. We are proud of being a trusted and reliable industry partner, providing innovation and efficient currency technology solutions to casinos. We are ready to work with casinos for future development and the rebound of casino businesses .

only offers two linked progressives but also two scalable bonuses, providing operators with more flexible volatilities to suit different player types. Our very popular Cash Cove games have just been released in a tournament version to the Singapore market allowing players to experience a tournament environment while enjoying their favorite Cash Cove game play. With Cash Cove’s popularity across Asia, including the Philippines,

we believe that this tournament version will enhance the playing experience. We are looking forward to the upcoming ASEAN Gaming Summit to network and discuss IGT games and systems plus gain further insights into gaming developments within the Philippines and Asia. IGT is proud to sponsor this key industry event, the first in more than two years.”


Exciting times in Asia


n the challenging environment venues are operating within today, IGT is steadfast in its commitment to developing and releasing innovative games and systems across Asia. As clarity on the market outlook improves, with the reduction in restrictions, IGT is poised to act on the opportunities and prospects that are now emerging in the Philippines and across Asia, and to work with business partners to adapt to the new challenges venues are facing today. Michael Cheers, IGT Sales Director Asia provides insights on recent developments: “It is an exciting time for IGT in Asia, particularly in the Philippines. The IGT ADVANTAGE casino management system is set to be deployed by the NUSTAR Resort and Casino in Cebu to manage its 1,500 slot games and 250 table games. Our system will also enable the casino to build patron loyalty, optimize casino operations and access real-time performance data. This also opens the door for NUSTAR to offer cashless gaming in the future, thanks to IGT’s Resort Wallet technology. In addition, NUSTAR will be the first casino in Asia to feature IGT’s Peak49 cabinet, which offers a 49-inch, ultra-high-definition portrait curved display teamed with a range of ergonomic and convenience features. We also have exciting content that is now available, and in the pipeline for Asia, including our very successful Yin Cai Shen game family, the new link for our Crystal Dual 27 cabinet, Yin Fu Wa, and the recently released Cash Cove tournament. Ying Fu Wa is the first step within this market for a multi-denomination link. It not

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


Driving Summer engagement


ith ICE firmly in the rear-view mirror and a myriad of exciting shows ahead, Habanero is lining itself up for an exciting summer where it will continue contributing to the plethora of industry shifts that are currently occurring. Habanero customers will be able to enjoy the very best in terms of mobile gaming, as they soak up the sun with the imminent launch of our explosive new title, Bomb Runner. Our fans are in for a real blast, thanks to the game’s vivid design and fast pace they will be engrossed as they progress through the titles’ breath-taking gameplay in the search for big wins. With eye-catching aesthetics and immersive bonus features, boosting engagement and retention figures considerably, the title

is a must-have for operators. In addition to this, Habanero’s Jackpot Race – a new jackpot system which shares the cash prize amongst winners, will be awarding players with thrilling prizes throughout summer. To be involved, Habanero customers must simply play one of the contributing games during the launch period, with all play during this time building up to the total jackpot amount. Of course, we’re well known for our flexibility – so our Jackpot Race can be tailored to any of your specific needs! Last but not least, Habanero’s big drive for engagement this summer will be complimented by the launch of an outstanding slot product each month, with Bomb Runner releasing on Tuesday 31st May. Our key to standing out has always been producing consistently

outstanding content that ticks all the boxes, and our audiences can expect more of the same through the rest of 2022 and beyond!


Full customization and total flexibility


aximize your potential return and impact on your ETG and LED products with IDX Games’ X-Stadium. X-Stadium not only gives you total control and flexibility at your fingertips, but also unlimited ways to impress, wow and attract more players into your venue. X-Stadium is an advanced show control system that integrates into any ETG (Electronic Table Games) stadium, as well as any display or LED product. No matter what the size, X-Stadium is a powerful addition for marketing both in-game action and main floor attractions using our unique “One Canvas” solution and content. With full customization and total flexibility of the entire screen, configurable anytime from the touch screen panel, you can change

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

layouts, input live streaming events, present sports TV, World Cup Soccer games or more. With the addition of the X-Marketing module, X-Stadium means no more wasted opportunities showing dead or closed games. With the built-in scheduler and marketing planner in our unique module, you can also turn your screen into the biggest marketing attraction at your casino. X-Stadium has built-in logic that analyses every game result, highlighting Hot Trends, Hot Tables, or specialty bets and wins which players should be aware of. These highlights have been shown to improve both player engagement as well as play rates. With the ability to promote and prompt player actions, as well as celebrate big wins over the entire screen canvas, you can

bring the ‘WOW’ factor and recognition back to your players. You can even import and promote Major Slot Jackpots on the same canvas. ETGs are the biggest growing sector in electronic gaming. No matter what gaming product you choose, X-Stadium will integrate with your existing system and drive your display – in ways that will not only make your life easier, but also ensure you maximize capital and improve your competitive advantage, keeping your players engaged with the best production and content. Talk to us about how we can improve your existing product or plan your new installation and get you ready for Qatar 2022 today.


More sporting bets coming soon


he pandemic helped fuel growth in the gaming industry with the birth of remote play. Gaming has seemingly created a comprehensive consumer market in the Philippines like online shopping, remote work, and virtual learning. 2020 statistics revealed that 74 percent of the Philippine online gaming population plays on their mobile devices. Jade Entertainment & Gaming Technologies, one of the leading remote and land-based sports betting service providers in the Philippines, took its digitization efforts to the next level

to further adapt to the new normal. Jade Entertainment is preparing to launch its new products developed during the pandemic and is expected to hit the market in the next 8 weeks. As the country’s economy opens further, land-based operations have started to pick up and Jade will continue to roll out products across the Philippines that stand out from the competition. Properties started to refresh their floors and integrate various slot apps preferred by many Filipinos as their features have the

potential to sky-rocket winnings. Another innovative product to further the gaming experience is daily fantasy sports, where they can create their own player lineups, weekly prizes, and various tournaments. The recent opening of the Nustar Integrated Resort and Casino in the Philippines’ second largest City of Cebu is a major milestone in the gaming history of the Philippines. As the Philippines has the best natural and human resources in Asia, we expect that we will see many more openings over the next few years.


Full force in the Philippines


he Philippines has experienced a strong economic come-back in the region since the pandemic. With its international borders reopening in February, followed by the removal of all casino capacity restrictions in March, the gross gaming revenue (GGR) of the industry rose by 30 percent to PHP39.15 billion in the first fiscal quarter from PHP30.03 billion a year ago, according to data released by PAGCOR. Off this momentum, Light & Wonder is excited to announce that its latest progressive link family, Coin Combo, was recently installed in two of Manila Bay’s integrated resorts (IR), with others to be installed

soon. Players will experience their favorite Fu Babies, extra Wealth Pots plus more levels of Jackpot features than previously. Coin Combo that are already installed on the gaming floors are being extremely well received, with Carnival Cow--the launch title of the Coin Combo family--now supported by the second game, Hyper Horse. Furthermore, the innovative Kascada cabinet has attracted players with its 43” curved screen, 4K graphics, as well as with its signature edge lighting, which no doubt creates excitement on the gaming floor. Additionally, Light & Wonder’s cashless technology system is now driving one of

Manila’s IR Philippine Inland Gaming Operator (PIGO) offerings. These PIGOs require dedicated off main floor machines which has meant high performance games from casino floor being resupplied for the PIGOs. PIGOs have produced a growth area during Covid, and interest still exists as the market returns post-Covid. “To best accommodate our customers’ demand, Light & Wonder has been increasing forces in the Philippines market through dedicated content, local sales force and support, and further business expansion on the roadmap along with the company’s strategic plan for the region.” Trevor Ross, Sales Director, Asia.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


New and exciting slot themes


n top of enhanced gaming features, unexpected attractions are blended into LT Game’s new slot games. Hulunbuir Grassland, Street Steel & Jin Yu Man Tang Supreme, bring new gaming interactions and enhanced bonus features into the Macau market. They are expected to draw the attention of various types of players and promote Macau’s local attractions and ethnic minority cultures. These slots enlarge LT Game’s selection pool. “Hulunbuir Grassland,” one of the purest prairies in the world, has nurtured a unique folk culture. In collaboration with Maestro Ulaantug, the nationally recognized First Grade Composer, the game Hulunbuir Grassland incorporates grassland culture characteristics into the theme and further brings players into life on the prairie. Beautiful scenery for all four seasons appears in the background, accompanied by graceful grassland folk music. At the core gaming part, the iconic grassland activities—archery and horsemanship—were integrated into the bonus games. The Archery Jackpot Bonus Game is triggered randomly in any base game, awarding various jackpot prizes corresponding with different target rings. The Lasso the Horse Feature, is also triggered randomly in any base game. It brings the excitement of this unique grassland experience to players through simulated animations and the corresponding gaming awards. Moreover, the magic rock feature which transforms all magic rocks into the same symbol (including the WILD symbol) increases the chance of big wins, and the free game feature allows extra

free games to be added on. To sum up, with the vivid graphics and authentic folk music, the game creates an illusion of grassland; with archery jackpot & lasso the horse bonus games, players are further immersed in the atmosphere of Hulunbuir Grassland and enjoy bonus prizes at the same time. Are you a motorbike lover? Do you like motor racing? Have you ever wished for a chance to get close to and to admire heavy metal superbikes? If so, Street Steel is the game to play. Inspired by and in collaboration with “Street Steel - Heavy Metal Bike Gallery Macau,” one of the local attractions recommended and selected by Macau Government Tourist Office in “Stay, Dine and See Macau” of 2021. Street Steel adapts the “motorbike” element into the theme and creates the “race” feature to increase the level of interaction between the game and the players. Once the free game feature is triggered, players will be directed to the motorbike race feature. Players will be choosing their favorite super motorbike to participate in the race, the chosen motorbike will be animated on the top screen with other computer-generated opponents, and then the race begins! The results of the motor race feature will determine the number of free games awarded in the free game feature. In effect, by giving the power of choice to the players to take a role in an award-determining feature, Street Steel seeks to catch the attention of players and further draw them in to play. Continuing the success of the previous progressive-link version, LT Game has released the stand-alone version of Jin Yu Man Tang. Jin

Yu Man Tang Supreme is a stand-alone game with no progressive jackpot feature attached, which means more lucrative base games and free games for the players. In this newer version, several functions were upgraded and improved in both the base game and free game feature to increase the entertainment level and prize winning. For example, when only 2 “Scatter” symbols appear during a free game, additional free games would be awarded. A special gold symbol appearing during free games would be accumulated and with enough cumulations, the lower major symbols would be converted into the highest gold major symbols and further trigger bigger payouts.


Back with improved and expanded product range


ell isn’t this perfect timing! I have just recently completed my first international trip of 2022, to the Philippines. Let’s forget about business for the moment and talk about the people element of my visit. Firstly, the strength of all of the staff in each venue, from floor attendants to senior executives, after such an extended lock down and government regime change. Secondly, the industry itself, how we banded together as much as possible, to help each other survive, should remind us all, how resilient our industry can be. And last but certainly not least ,the people of the Philippines. Who always give a hello,

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

smile and a welcome back. It was like a big warm hug and one I really missed. From a Paltronics point of view, although COVID presented many extreme challenges, the positive out of the situation was it gave us some much needed huddle time, particularly engineering and management, to focus on improving and expanding our product range. You will see, moving forward, some great new products from Paltronics directly and from our product partners. Not to mention taking our Jackpot offerings to the next level………. Watch this space. I am glad to report on this trip the feedback from all operators, on the direction and offering

PAL is now providing, was extremely positive and I am looking forward to sharing this with all other operators in Australasia. It was reassuring to learn about how the Philippines market is gaining so much momentum and I have no doubt that gaming in the region is going from strength to strength and PAL is looking forward to being a part of the recovery and continued growth of the industry as a whole. I think the upcoming AGB ASEAN Conference, in Manila, is a great opportunity for the industry to come together and discuss the road to recovery and some much needed face to face love.


Adding innovation to live casino


he live casino space has pivoted from a relatively stable arena of live-streamed table games to a hotbed of innovation in the space of a few short years. Game Shows, immersive titles and wild multipliers have seen a vertical formerly dominated by blackjack and roulette transformed into a world where players can enjoy traditional titles or augmented reality adventures. Pragmatic Play’s Boom City follows this trend of delivering new concepts to the space that bring premium entertainment to players. The game takes two dice and turns each roll into one of myriad possibilities, with a 36-space grid awaiting players in a 6x6 format. Each field contains a different outcome, from Multipliers, Bonus Games and Power Ups, or a Bust. Combining physical RNG with bespoke, jumbo dice and a digital RNG through the bonus rounds, Boom City’s game show format, along with max win potential of 20,000x, gives players an unmatched immersive live experience. The title continues Pragmatic Play’s recent

history of undertaking creative projects in the Live Casino space, following on from the hit success of its landmark title, Sweet Bonanza CandyLand, as well as its first Crash-style game, Spaceman. Boom City combines the modern trend

currently dominating live casino of exciting game show-style content with an incredible amount of interactivity, delivering choices that have consequences, which can lead to mammoth wins and multipliers.

he has finally arrived at a mysterious island in the middle of Pacific Ocean. Rumour has it that there is vast treasure yet to be discovered. “Golden Legacy” is a 3x5-reel, 243-way slot. Our adventure starts from the Base Game. It features a waterfall in a jungle, where the treasure

hunter is looking for the golden treasure. In this game, the treasure hunter himself is the Wild Symbol, and it appears stacked. It can replace all symbols on the reels, except for the scatter, which is the mysterious medallion. The treasure hunter appears on Reels 2 to 4 only. When it appears stacked along the reels, it triggers Wild Lock Re-Spin Feature, where the reels with stacked wild symbols will be locked while other reels will be re-spun for free. When there are 3, 4 or 5 scatters on the screen, 12 Free Spins will be awarded. The mysterious medallions show the treasure hunter the door behind the waterfall, leading us to the vault where treasure is hidden. There, 12 free spins will be awarded, with a Wild Nudge Feature: any wild symbol appearing on the reels will be switched to full-reel wilds, making winning easier! Treasure hunt is a common theme in slot games. Adding all innovative ways to play is another. SimplePlay’s “Golden Legacy” has incorporated all these elements masterfully. It is a slot game that should not be missed. Both the Wild Nudge Feature and Wild Lock ReSpin Feature can give huge payout! Scheduled to be launched in early Q3, it is a game worth of high anticipation!


Looking for gold


lot provider SimplePlay is launching “Golden Legacy”, a slot game based on the theme of a treasure hunt. In “Golden Legacy”, the protagonist treasure hunter is looking for the legendary golden land. After collecting all the hints around the world,

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


Fruity prizes in new progressive


EGA SAMMY CREATION INC. introduces a new linked progressive jackpot product called “Lucky Fruits Link” with a four-level Jackpot to the Asian market. With two Chinese ancient god themes “Wen Bao” and “Wu Bao”, the Lucky Fruits Link features the Lucky Tree, where players can see credit prizes, multipliers of up to x88 and the bonus pick game, all available to them as fruits on the gorgeous golden tree on the top screen. The WILD symbol-driven Lucky Tree Feature makes sure that there is never a dull moment with anticipation that the fruit prizes will fall to the player. There is excitement with every reel stop of every spin. “What can we do to create an intuitive product, something that is simple to grasp, easy to play and keeps a high level of excitement and time of device? These were the questions that we asked ourselves in developing this game series.” said Masahiro Kurosaki, managing director at SEGA SAMMY CREATION. “Our resounding answer is the new link progressive series Lucky Fruits Link for the Genesis Star cabinet line. The Lucky Tree will help attract players and keep up time on device as players look forward to what fruit will fall next.” This intuitive link series will be coming soon to casinos in the Philippines. Bring harvest to your floor with fruitful prizes!


Know your audience


aving been in the industry nearly two decades, Play’n GO has developed an innate knack of giving players exactly what they want. So, when we say we make games that players love, what we’re really saying is that we make games that we know players will enjoy beyond a title’s initial release.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

How? We know our audience. Take our 2018 release Legacy of Egypt, this game not only encapsulates the theme with opulent visuals and beautiful sound design, it offers innovative features like the Wheel of the Gods and Pyramid Spins which create actionpacked gameplay. These types of mechanics are

key to player retention and engagement. Our 2013 out-of-this-world release, Energoonz not only kicked off the sci-fi sector of our portfolio but formed the foundations for the popular Reactoonz series which today consists of five titles. Much like the Ancient Egypt series this is a testament to recognising what our players want and to give them it. Games like Fire Joker have done a beautiful job of complementing classic tropes with innovation. Fruit symbols are synonymous with this game and even the audio design has been considered to reflect that of a physical machine. Despite not having a lever to pull at the click of a spin players are pulled back into the arcade with a clever sound effect that mimics the crank of the lever. Take The Sword and the Grail (2019), which uses story to create easy-to-follow gameplay. The designers of the game cleverly took the motion of taking the sword from the stone and transformed it into a Multiplier mechanic. Reaching the end of the sword means the player has been successful in pulling the sword from the stone. This attention to detail is what makes our games sound out in our industry. We pride ourselves on the variety of our portfolio. We try to cover everything from themes, features, storylines, characters to make sure that there is something for everyone.


Leading Asian recovery story


he Philippines market is shaping up to be one of the more robust markets in Asia, as the region climbs out of the COVID slump. With a newly elected government and leaders, the region will see some reshaping of its economy and the gaming and hospitality sectors will also be reshaped. To what extent, time will tell, but the overall outlook for the Philippines, is very positive. TraffGen was founded several years ago to deliver a modular platform to casinos to enable them to deliver innovative & highly customisable solutions to the business problems they are facing. We have a range of modules that are used by some of the largest casinos in the world to manage aspects of patrons, staff, convergence marketing, VIPs, compliance, gaming ops, loyalty & security. With Philippines operators in all segments of gaming now operating under some new regulations, it is opening up opportunities in areas that include online, mobile and cashless gaming. As other markets in Asia open at a slower pace, the Philippines will be strong and lead most other markets in the region. With the Philippines becoming a more dynamic market, TraffGen Asia is well positioned to provide dynamic business solutions to Philippines operators through the Traffgen Hub, giving them the ability to select modules (custom or otherwise) on a subscription basis. This reduces risk & increases flexibility, by being able to switch modules on & off as the needs arise. We look forward to building our customer base beyond the Hann Group in Clark and adding to our list of valued clients including Wynn Group (Macau), Melco Group (Macau), Naga Corp (Cambodia) and SkyCity Group (New Zealand & Australia).


Driving convergence


ith gaming floor closures, social distancing requirements, and travel restrictions in mind, land-based operators and suppliers are seeking ways to ensure and protect casino revenue streams. Online gaming, while naturally immune to the vulnerabilities of the pandemic-sensitive live floor, is several steps removed from the live table games player experience and doesn’t leverage existing casino infrastructure. To bridge that gap, WDTS is working with JADE Entertainment to deliver the branded land-based casino experience on JADE’s PIGOapproved online gaming platform. The WDTS Perfect Pay platform tracks all aspects of live table games play including cards pulled, bets placed, and dealer actions. The platform is configured with game rules, bet limits, bet types, payout odds, and error tracking. In a live gaming environment, this translates into fast, error-free game play and automated bet tracking. Now, the same live game can be simultaneously offered on Jade Entertainment’s online platform.

Emily Io believes this is part of a larger progression enabled by technology, “Platform flexibility creates new revenue opportunities and unique customer experiences from a live table game to hand-held devices, gaming lounges, or as we are developing with JADE, extending game content from the casino floor to players in remote locations.” The latest Perfect Pay 2.0 offering can be implemented as a single table without additional networking or integration. Each Perfect Pay table requires only a power connection. Along with ease of implementation comes novel side bets including Baccarat Insurance and Baccarat Raise, only available on the Perfect Pay platform and designed to increase player excitement while

raising baccarat’s low house edge. Joe Pisano, CEO of JADE Entertainment, notes that his group will be able to offer WDTS’ proprietary table game content in the Philippines not only for brick-and-mortar properties but also via a remote game server for PIGO operators so that remote players will be able to enjoy the many Perfect Pay Baccarat variant. “Because the WDTS Perfect Pay table is available as a single self-contained unit, Jade entertainment is excited to start demonstrating the product not only in the Philippines but other Asian countries. WDTS has also released a new pricing model with no upfront costs on a fee per day basis inclusive of hardware, software license, service, and support.”

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


Sudhir H. Kalé*

Service blueprinting to adapt to fast-paced change Casinos are in the business of delivering commercial experiences to customers. The process of providing the customer experience involves a sequence of touchpoints where the customer and the organization interact.


ery often, service providers such as casinos are unaware of the various touchpoints along the customer experience or of the significance of these touchpoints in determining customer’s satisfaction with the experience. In trying to assess and understand the customer experience across the entire customer journey, few techniques are as insightful or as powerful as service blueprinting. I have introduced service blueprints in gaming organizations of all shapes and sizes, and barring a few isolated cases, the results have been nothing short of outstanding. At a time when customer preferences have undergone tectonic changes, casinos need to adapt, and adapt fast. Service blueprinting can make such adaptation possible. So, what exactly is a service blueprint? Components of a Service Blueprint A service blueprint could be described as a service roadmap—a tangible, visual document that lays out where

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

and how your customers interact with your company. More specifically, a blueprint is an information-laden document made up of five components that, when drawn up together, makes make the customer-company relationship and the customer experience crystal clear (see Exhibit 1). The participatory nature of the blueprinting process is a great way to build teams and share expertise. Simplified Service Blueprint components A blueprint generally has five components that, together, shed light on each key touchpoint along the customer journey. Touchpoint is a point of contact or interaction between a business and its customers or consumers. A short description of these components is in order: Customer actions include all the steps that customers take as part of the service delivery process. Onstage/visible contact employee actions are the actions of frontline contact employees that occur as part of a face-to-face encounter with customers.


Backstage/invisible contact employee actions are non-visible interactions with customers, such as telephone calls, as well as other activities employees undertake to prepare to serve customers or that are part of their role responsibilities. Support processes are all activities carried out by individuals in a company who are not contact employees, but whose functions are crucial to the carrying out of services processes. Physical evidence represents all of the tangibles that customers are exposed to at each touchpoint (such as room temperature, building, décor, employee uniforms, and odors). In Exhibit 1, I have shown only three customer touchpoints. In reality, even the simplest journey will involve at least thirty touchpoints. The beauty of the service blueprint is that you can actually see the flow of services, the departments or divisions responsible at each stage of the flow, and technology needed to deliver the desired experience all on a single sheet of paper! Why Design Service Blueprints? A blueprint is useful in several ways in managing a service and delivering great customer experiences. Some key benefits to be realized from service blueprinting are: Clarify the sequence of processes and involvement of different departments in service delivery: The blueprint serves as guide for implementing the service plan by showing the sequence of steps needed to deliver a service. In so doing, it coordinates the efforts of service personnel in the organization by pointing out their role in the overall system. Improve the design of an existing service: Physical Evidence Customer Actions

For most executives, the design of a service stays mostly in their head. A blueprint makes all the key touchpoints and their components within the service delivery process explicit. This exercise brings to the fore the “pain points” for the customer at various touchpoints. These pain points, if unattended, become “fail points” in the service delivery. Once the pain points become apparent, they can be rectified. Service blueprints facilitate internal communication. When service professionals describe how a service flows, their description is invariably subjective, biased, and incomplete. Once a blueprint is designed, the resulting communication can become explicit and objective. In other words, service professionals start “speaking the same language” through service blueprints. Blueprints facilitate HR efforts: Human resource managers use service blueprints in the preparation of job description, job specification, job evaluation, performance standards, training and appraisal schemes and compensation plans. Blueprints allow companies to identify points of differentiation: If you have visited any of the Galaxy casinos in Macau, you will see very tall nicely dressed girls acting as welcome ambassadors. Galaxy has used the height and beauty of the welcome ambassadors as a point of differentiation. Blueprinting fortifies a customer-oriented focus among employees: By looking at a service blueprint, every employee within an integrated casino resort can see how their role and effort contributes to the quality of service and the overall customer experience. Such tangible proof of the significance of their efforts makes employees want to try








Line of Interaction

Onstage Contact Employee Behavior



Line of Internal Interaction

Support System/Staff Behavior and Systems Pain Points


Conclusion Service blueprinting has proven its effectiveness in enhancing service quality to both the internal and external customer. It has applications in quality control, operations, marketing, IT, and HR. At a time when customer expectations and behaviors have irrevocably changed, casinos need to respond to these changes with contextual agility. Service Blueprints are the literal roadmap that organizations can use to quickly adapt their service delivery to the new normal. Doing do will ensure that they remain relevant and significant for the “new” customer. In closing, I’d like to offer one additional takeaway. Sometimes, middle managers without requisite training or experience design service blueprints for their properties. A badly done blueprint results in squandered resources and does more harm than good in terms of service quality. Make sure the people entrusted with blueprint design have the education and expertise to do so.


Line of Visibility

Backstage Contact Employee Behavior

harder to satisfy the customer. Blueprints provides concrete basis for identifying and assessing cost, revenue and capital invested in each touchpoint of the service: Not all touchpoints are equally critical when it comes to customer satisfaction. Sometimes, resources are allocated at touchpoints which may not mean much to customers. Using cost-benefit analysis, the casino operator can provide excellent customer service at a reasonable cost. Blueprints underscore the importance of physical cues experienced by the customer: By making explicit the physical evidence perceived by the customer at every touchpoint, service blueprinting brings into sharp focus the importance of service aspects such as employee uniforms, facility layout, music, air quality, scents used, company collateral, and the ambience witnessed by the customer at every touchpoint.

Activity A Time and Touchpoints


*Sudhir H. Kalé, Ph.D., is the Founder and Principal of GamePlan Consultants, a boutique consultancy dedicated to enhancing the employee and customer experience in integrated casino resorts. He has introduced service blueprints at some of the largest casino properties in the world. Sudhir has published around 150 articles on the marketing and management of casinos. You can write to him at

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022




IAGA INTERNATIONAL GAMING SUMMIT 27-29 June 2022 Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston

AUSTRALASIAN GAMING EXPO 9-11 August 2022 ICC Sydney, Australia

WORLD GAMING EXECUTIVE SUMMIT 29-30 June 2022 W Hotel, Barcelona

G2E ASIA SPECIAL EDITION 24-26 August 2022 Marina Bay Sands, Singapore


JULY IGB LIVE 5-8 July 2022 Amsterdam RAI

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Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022

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Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


Macau’s zero-Covid despair Sharon Singleton

Managing Editor, AGB

As I’m writing this, there appears to be very little light at the end of a very long tunnel for Macau.


he city is back in lockdown after the worst a bright future for Macau, led by the mass market as outbreak of the pandemic and despite tourism resumes. The trouble is there is no indication of when that the fact that each operator is burning through well over a $1 million a day to might be. China has made zero-Covid a badge of keep the lights on, the casinos have not been able to national pride, suggesting that Chinese are unpatriotic close their doors along with all the rest of the city’s if they fail to get behind the program. The U.S. Ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, entertainment facilities. Keeping the casinos open, even though there is has said he expects Beijing’s “zero COVID” policy to no chance of any revenue coming in, means that they persist into early 2023, and that U.S. businesses were still need to keep paying their sizable staffing bills. reluctant to invest in the country until restrictions ease. As a result, Macau has little choice but to follow suit. As a result, analysts are starting to express concern The longer-term goal is to about liquidity and cash burn. diversify tourism revenue away SJM is in the weakest position from Mainland China, with the and is estimated to be going government even dangling the through about HK$22 million carrot of tax cuts for those who ($2.8 million) cash a day if you The concern manage to draw in visitors from include interest expenses and is there, but the elsewhere. maintenance capital expenditure. operators are However, in the short term, The longer the COVIDChief Executive Ho Iat Seng has impacted environment continues, seen as being acknowledged that without a zeroespecially where operators are able to weather Covid strategy Macau will not be barely EBITDA breakeven, the permitted to have quarantine-free spotlight will shine brighter on the storm. access to China and so opening individual companies’ liquidity, up the doors to the rest of the Bernstein’s lead analyst, Vitaly world is not an option. Umansky, wrote recently. The borders are closed to all The brokerage notes that under the worst case of zero revenue all Macau operators no-residents outside of the Greater China region have at least three months of cash on hand before and visitors from Hong Kong and Taiwan will have needing to draw from credit facilities or tap into to quarantine at their own expense. You’d have to really want to come to Macau for new financing. Wynn Resorts recently stepped in to provide pleasure purposes to make that worthwhile. Prior to the pandemic, non-China visitation was credit facilities of $500 million to its Macau unit in a move that analysts said is likely to be the first of also a very small part of the mix and contributed very such actions by parent companies to shore up local little to gross gambling revenue and profit. It will take years of targeted marketing and balance sheets. The concern is there, but the operators are seen visionary tourism planning to pull enough tourists as being able to weather the storm. It’s a different in from elsewhere to even make a dent in the hole story for the city’s small-to-medium-sized businesses, left by the Chinese. So while there may be a silver lining for Macau, which have said they are “desperate and hopeless.” Analysts still repeat that longer-term they expect it’s not in the immediate future. Still we wait.

Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022


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Asia Gaming Briefings | July 2022