AGBriefings September 2021 Edition

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JURISDICTION UPDATES September 2021 Edition

In focus pg.20

Betting on Olympic gold, Japan and esports MACAU

All quiet on the concessions front pg.6

PHILIPPINES eSabong drives revenue growth pg.10

SINGAPORE Blazing the reopening trail pg.12


Yokohama upends IR process pg.32



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Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021

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Olympics dusted, next event please


ith major sporting events set to resume their

Down under, the Crown affair is likely to trigger further

Autumn schedules and fresh off the back of

regulatory reform with manufacturers required to make

the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, our focus section

changes to the products that they offer in Australia as a result

in this September edition of Asia Gaming

of recent royal commissions inquiries.

Briefings is on the sports betting world.

In this edition of the Supplier Special Report we press the

In our first article in this section, we examine how the heavy

question everyone is asking: “Are you going?” As in-person

expense of the games, coupled with the ongoing Covid drag

events begin to ramp up again, suppliers are making some

on the economy and the coffers of the country’s sports clubs

difficult choices about whether or not to attend and who

may be the catalyst that pushes the government to expand

to send. Nearly all of the manufacturers and suppliers AGB

legalized sports betting earlier than anticipated.

polled for this September Report expressed a strong desire

Our second piece looks at the Olympics-effect on sports

to attend events in person. Most are suffering from Zoom

betting. Despite the global audience figures, the games fail

fatigue and after 18 months of teleconferencing have realized

to generate anywhere near as much in betting volumes as

that digital formats don’t make up for social interaction.

some other major competitions. We look at why this is the

However, in the post-pandemic world it’s not so easy.

case and what was new in Tokyo 2020.

For colleagues in Asia, travel is still highly prohibitive.

Another of our articles in this section examines the impact of

There are few flights and for many, stringent quarantine

drones on live streaming of horse racing in the U.K. Their use

requirements are in place on return. Executives need to ask

has become widespread and is being increasingly viewed as a

whether it’s worth spending 14 days or more in isolation for

problem for sports integrity and illegal gambling.

the sake of a three-day event. Costs were also cited as an

Lastly, Purbrick & Associates puts esports under the spotlight.

issue when determining what events to attend and where.

The article looks at the potential for future growth and what’s

Likewise how many people and who to send. Some said the

likely to drive expansion in the market, in particular in Asia.

decision is likely to be very much last minute.

In these pages of AGBriefings Jurisdiction Updates you’ll find

Browse through to find out who you might get to see at your

the most relevant developments within the Asian markets.

next gaming event.

Starting with Singapore, the city state is blazing the opening

From all of us here at AGB, we do hope to see you soon! In

trail by learning how to live with Covid. As Singapore rapidly

the meantime, stay/ travel safe!

Rosalind Wade

Luis Pereira

approaches herd immunity, it has become the first nation in Asia to look towards reopening, shifting a change in approach

Happy reading.

that may serve as a role model for others to follow. Over to the Philippines: After a slow start, the country’s

On behalf of Asia Gaming Brief

domestic online gaming industry (PIGOS) is beginning to

Rosalind Wade & Luis Pereira

gain momentum, helping to pad PAGCOR’s Covid-depleted


coffers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, eSabong has generated significant interest.

Connect with us:

In Japan, efforts to establish an IR industry face rising uncertainty as politics derail one candidate city -


Yokohama - and another’s selection procedures - Nagasaki - are called into question.

Asia Gaming Brief

Asia Gaming Brief


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Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021





Government silent on concession renewals The Macau government is coming under increasing pressure to announce a delay to the retendering of its casino concessions, as the clock ticks for the city’s six operators with no visibility over the process.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021



he current concessions are set to expire in June next year. The government has promised a public consultation on any proposed amendments to the city’s gaming laws, which it said it planned to carry out in the second half of 2021. With the end of the third quarter in sight there has been no word on any changes and no public consultation. The operators have publicly urged the government to consider an extension of the current concessions for as long as three years to allow adequate time for the process, with the focus having been firmly on controlling the pandemic since early 2020. Sands China President Wilfred Wong has said the timetable for beginning the process is very tight and he doesn’t expect to see any movement until after Legislative Council elections on Sept. 12. He also added the government has not been in discussions with the operators. “I don’t think the government is in a rush to renew the licences because they want to do things right,” he said on a recent conference call. “There are many legal issues they have to attend to, such as the concession and subconcession issue, and for this they can only go to the Legislative Assembly when the new assembly is in place.” Melco Resorts & Entertainment CEO Lawrence Wong also concurred that there is likely to be an extension. However, he also doesn’t foresee there being any major surprises to come out of the process due to

the importance of the gaming industry to Macau. Analysts were asking in light of the recent regulatory crackdowns in China, where Beijing appears to be willing to crack down on some of its biggest companies, despite the economic consequences. Still, a group of Macau legislators have suggested that the Special Administrative Region’s gaming law may not be compatible

I don’t think the government is in a rush to renew the licences because they want to do things right.

with China’s new security laws. The Legislative Assembly Follow-up Committee in charge of Land and Public Concessions presented its final report in August. “The entry into force, on March 1st of 2021, of the proposal to revise the penal code of the People’s Republic of China (…) the control of money outflows and the fight against organising the participation in gaming activities outside the country, is of great alarm

to the gaming sector of Southeast Asia and the whole world,” notes the report, indicating that the rules “will make it difficult for VIP rooms to continue their operating methods.” The committee also made suggestions to further oversee the gaming sector, in particular with a review of electronic gaming machine regulations and the overall number of machines allowed. It also suggested that the government “reinforce the management of the system and how gaming is operated”, including a push for law revisions “regarding the operating model, social responsibility and proportion of activities.” In particular the lawmakers said they would like to see concrete measures put into the law that would ensure the operators give priority to small-and-medium-size businesses to support young entrepreneurs and Made in Macau companies. Like the operators, the legislators also urged the government to clarify its timelines for the process and also suggested an extension would be the best option. They would like to see another study into the development of gaming in Macau to ensure it retains its competitiveness. Analysts and industry observers have commented that all of the current operators are likely to retain their licenses in the retendering process, but say the government will likely attach strings, such as a greater “encouragement” to invest in the Greater Bay Area and in non-gaming amenities.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021




(units in MOP)


SJM 6.1%

MGM 9.2%

20,000 15,000 10,000

WYNN 14.2%


VIP Market Share

GEG 28.1%


Jan Feb


Apr Mai




(Source: DICJ)

LVS 22.5%

Recovery lags as pandemic drags on

MLCO 19.9% MGM 11.5%

WYNN 13.6%

SJM 13.6%

Mass Market Share

GEG 17.8%

LVS 24.5% MLCO 16.4%

Macau’s labour bureau says some Macau operators continue to express confidence over substantial pent-up demand, however while revenue in Las Vegas powers ahead, the world’s biggest gambling hub is slow to get back on its feet. During analyst conference calls to discuss recently released 2Q21 results, executives expressed optimism about long-term prospects for the market. However, recovery from the crisis is dragging due to Macau’s zero tolerance rates for Covid and continuing low vaccination rates. Most of the operators to have reported so far remained in the black at the EBITDA level thanks to cost cutting and operational efficiencies, but the top-line growth isn’t there and analysts continue to trim their forecasts for this year and next.

GGR Breakdown








Locals hold 90% of top jobs



421 406 607






200 VIP

400 MASS

A s i a G a m i n g B r i e f i n g s | S e*Data p t e msourced b e r 2 0from 2 1 Deustche Bank



*Million USD

Macau’s labour bureau says some 90 percent of employees at Macau’s six gaming concessionaires and subconcessionaires are local. The figure is a slight rise from the 89 percent announced by Macau’s finance secretary earlier this year and is above the government’s target of 85 percent local employment in higher-level positions. In total the six concessionaires employ more than 108,000 employees, 77 percent of whom are local. Authorities say that they will continue to require companies to give priority to hiring locals. Over the course of the pandemic, Macau has pressured gaming companies to retain their staff, while encouraging the “acceleration of the exit mechanism for non-resident workers.”



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Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021




PIGO sector accelerates, lead by eSabong After a slow start, the Philippines’ domestic online gaming industry is beginning to gain momentum, helping to pad the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp’s (PAGCOR) Covid-depleted coffers.




he Philippines became the first country in Asia late last year to seek to regulate domestic online gaming. The government wanted to recover revenue from a booming illegal market after fees generated from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) and its casino industry plummeted due to the pandemic. Initially, the operators were only able to offer online services to registered VIP players. For online gaming platforms, that has now been extended to all registered players. The types of available products have also been gradually expanded to include sports betting online and eSabong from May this year. eSabong is online betting on cockfighting, which is a hugely popular sport in the Philippines. “The start was slow,” said Calvin Lim, CEO of DFNN whose IEST unit was the first to launch domestic online gambling. “But because of the reclassification we’ve seen quite a nice vertical growth from the second quarter onwards,” he said referring to the impact of the expansion of the player base. He said that the companies have been in constant discussions with the regulators on development of the industry and it had become apparent that restricting the market to VIPs wasn’t going to meet objectives in terms of raising revenue and stamping out the illegal market. “Our product isn’t meant for the high rollers. If you are a high roller you tend to gravitate towards the integrated resorts,” he said. The group’s InPlay platform generated gross bets of PHP2.5 billion ($50 million) in the first

six months of the year. Total revenue for DFNN during the first half of the year reached PHP268.9 million, with a net loss of PHP76.9 million, due to the suspension of gaming operations in Manila. Perhaps unsurprisingly, eSabong has generated significant interest. There are currently four licensed players and a further 12 applications waiting to be processed. However, PAGCOR Chair Andrea Domingo said there has been a decision to cap the total at 12, as it would be too difficult to supervise too many small players. Domingo said the four companies were already outperforming the depleted POGO sector in terms of revenue generation. In a recent virtual forum, she said PAGCOR expects to earn about PHP5 billion this year from POGOs, while eSabong is on track to generate about PHP3 to PHP3.5 billion, despite only having been operational since May. Domingo said there are currently only about 33 POGO operators still in business in the Philippines compared with more than 60 before the crisis. There are 157 POGO service providers compared with more than 300 prior. Although the pandemic has undoubtedly had a negative impact on the POGO sector, many companies had already left prior to the crisis. The rising costs of doing business, attempts to impose a 5 percent franchise tax on total turnover and ever-changing regulation led many to relocate to other jurisdictions. Although the domestic online market is gaining ground, PAGCOR is still unlikely to make up lost revenue this year from POGOs and land-based casinos.

GROSS GAMING REVENUE Q1 Entertainment City


(units in million)


21,116 14,666

271 87


1,881 2,241

Total Industry GGR

30,026 20,875 (Source: PAGCOR)

The regulator was targeting revenue of between PHP35 and PHP38 billion this year, but is only at 85 percent of its target due to the ongoing Covid lockdowns. Domingo said she expected the situation to improve from September, with vaccination rates picking up and the most recent outbreak coming under control. Manila’s integrated resorts, which are PAGCOR’s largest revenue generators will remain closed until at least Sept. 7 to comply with enhanced community quarantine orders. They are allowed to offer online services to their VIP clients, although according to their websites only two of the four Entertainment City IRs appear to be live. Melco Resorts & Entertainment has an online offering called Live Shots, while Bloomberry Resorts’ Solaire Resort & Casino also has Solaire Online. Gaming service provider, Jade Entertainment, also recently secured approval from PAGCOR, to launch its online sportsbook. The sportsbook is powered by RPM Gaming, which has provided the tailored software and the operational consultancy to Jade. Jade said its sportsbook will offer “most sophisticated and reactive prices “ on basketball, tennis, football and boxing. CEO Joe Pisano said: “We’re naturally delighted that PAGCOR has regulated to allow sports betting to go online in the Philippines and that their flexible foresight in adapting to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic has resulted in this landmark license for Jade SportsBet and our progressive portfolio of local retail partnerships.”

Suncity reiterates pledge to repay deposits

Philippines targets herd immunity by Feb.

Suncity Group says a report in a Philippine newspaper claiming it’s readying cash to repay “irate” high rollers contains inaccurate reporting. The company said it has stressed to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) that it will honor its obligations with regards to players who had made advance deposits. “However issues also arise upon withdrawal, including the absence of the account holder,” it said in a statement published in the Manila Bulletin. These include representatives not possessing the correct “authorization, non-compliance with agreed withdrawal procedures, or non-compliance with anti-money laundering safeguards being implemented by Suncity.”

The Philippines expects to have 70 percent of its population fully vaccinated by February next year, according to Department of Health Secretary, Francisco Duque III. Duque said the current vaccination rate in the country of more than 100 million people was averaging at about 400,000 a day, according to local media reports. Like many developing countries, the Philippines’ vaccination drive has been hindered by a shortage of vaccines. Although there is also a high level of vaccine hesitancy in the country. Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of the National Task Force against Covid-19, said this situation should improve in coming months, with the government having secured a steady supply from September, the government news agency reports.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021



Singapore learning how to live with Covid


s most Asian countries continue to pursue a zero-Covid policy, Singapore has been looking at how to live with the virus, which it acknowledges is here to stay. However, it’s not been without its stops and starts. The government first announced in early July that it was easing restrictions, saying rising vaccinations would make Covid more akin to influenza, reducing morbidity and mortality from the virus. That changed mid month after the Delta variant began to spread, triggering another round of lockdowns, including the closure of Marina Bay Sands due to a cluster at the resort. Those restrictions are again being lifted, with Singapore now having about 80 percent of its population fully vaccinated, even though its seven-day average is still above 100 cases. In-person dining has resumed and offices have reopened. The government has also announced the easing of entry requirements for fully immunized travellers from August 20th from certain destinations, including Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Austria, Canada, Norway and Germany. Visitors will still need to quarantine for 14 days, but not in government-mandated quarantine facilities. Still, analysts are not expecting the easing to have much of an impact on the nation’s two integrated resorts, which need the full resumption of international travel to give a kick-start to growth. In 2020, local Singaporeans and the large expatriate community provided solid support for Marina Bay Sands and Genting Singapore’s Resorts World Sentosa, however for further impetus analysts say that international travel needs to resume. On a recent conference call, Las Vegas Sands executives expressed confidence that Singapore would once again be a $5 billion EBITDA market, however, it will only return with open borders.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021

The government has said it will begin easing travel restrictions from early September for fully vaccinated travellers and will seek to establish air corridors with safer destinations. However, there is still no visibility as to when a long-delayed travel bubble with Hong Kong may resume, with officials in the latter city said to be concerned about Singapore’s departure from a zero Covid policy. The travel corridor was supposed to be put in place in November last year, but successive outbreaks in both cities have forced postponement. As of mid-August, there was also optimism for an improving situation in neighboring Malaysia, which is a key feeder market for Singapore. The government has begun to lift lockdown measures in place since the beginning of June as vaccination rates rise. Analysts at Nomura said they were confident that the country will reach 70 percent immunity by the end of the year, raising the potential for further openings. Genting Malaysia is one of the firm’s top stock picks. In Singapore, Las Vegas Sands also said it remains cautiously optimistic that its expansion plans will be completed by 2025 as planned, although it could not commit to the timetable. Covid has had a major impact on construction and planning. “I think we’re just trying to be cautious and make sure that we understand all of the different parameters around labor and construction timelines before we say that this is a schedule that is not achievable or is achievable,” LVS President and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Dumont told analysts. Las Vegas Sands and Genting Singapore are both investing S$4.5 billion on expanding their non-gaming attractions in return for an expansion in their gaming floor and gaming machines. They have also had their license exclusivity extended until 2030. However, the downside came in the form of higher taxes from 2022 and a hike in casino entrance fees.

(Credit: James Tan)

As Singapore rapidly approaches herd immunity, it has become the first nation in Asia to look towards reopening, shifting a change in approach that may serve as a role model for others to follow.

VACCINATION RATES Fully Vaccinated % of population Singapore Hong Kong Macau Philippines 12.9%


46.7% 52%


Gambling participation declines, problem gambling remains low Fewer Singapore residents are gambling, whilst the number of those suffering from problem gambling remain low, according to the results of a survey from the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). The survey, conducted in 2020, found that 44 percent of the respondents gambled, down from 52 percent in 2017. The overall problem gambling rate was 1.2 percent, up slightly from 0.9 percent in 2017.

Planned law to allow social gambling The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is proposing legal amendments that would explicitly allow social gambling in the city-state, at least when conducted face-to-face between family and friends. This is part of an overall revamp of gambling laws in Singapore, including a plan to establish a new gambling regulator sometime this year. “We recognize that gambling amongst family and friends in homes is socially acceptable amongst many Singaporeans,” the MHA commented. At present, the Common Gaming Houses Act does not define social gambling, although it prohibits gambling in gaming houses. Permission for social gambling will not extend, however, to the online sphere, due to the fact that it would cause “enforcement difficulties” to figure out if individuals are truly personal connections.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


Wai Ming Yap*

Gina Ng*

Regulators seek clarity on blurred lines between gaming and gambling Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is seeking feedback from the public on proposed amendments to the existing gambling legislation.


hese amendments seek to address two trends in the gambling landscape. First, advancements in technology relating to the internet and mobile computing that have made gambling products more accessible. Second, the blurring of boundaries between gambling and gaming and the introduction of gambling elements in products that are not traditionally perceived as gambling. Currently, the definition of “gambling” differs across different pieces of gambling legislation in Singapore, depending on the gambling product. The MHA proposes to broaden the definition of gambling to make it technology-neutral, so that it can cover existing and emerging gambling products. The MHA acknowledged that a wider definition may inadvertently cover products it has no intention of treating as gambling products, such as financial products already regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore through other legislation. To prevent this, the MHA stated that it will adopt the approach taken in other jurisdictions (e.g., United Kingdom, Australia, Switzerland, and Denmark) and carve out these products from the definition of gambling. The MHA observed that mystery boxes are similar to lotteries, in particular those that promise high-value prizes that can easily be traded for cash. As the value of prizes increases, their potential to induce gambling behavior increases. The MHA recognizes that such activities are considered a form of entertainment but has taken the view that safeguards need to be introduced to ensure that these activities do not induce gambling behavior and cause social problems. To address the blurring boundaries between gambling and gaming, the MHA proposes to introduce a prize cap of $100 for mystery boxes, arcade games and claw machines. It is of the view that the cap will be sufficient to address the inducement effect of high-value prizes, without increasing the regulatory burden on operators. Skin betting sites banned The MHA observed that it is increasingly common for online and video games to incorporate in-game microtransactions (e.g., loot boxes) that can resemble gambling. Currently, Singapore gaming laws and regulations

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021

do not consider games of chance with virtual prizes as gambling so long as there are no in-game monetisation facilities that allow players to exchange virtual prizes for real-world payouts (i.e., money, or items that can be exchanged for money). The MHA proposes to update


existing laws and regulations to address virtual items that can be transferred out of the game, and potentially be exchanged for money or money’s worth on a third-party hosted exchange. First, it proposes to introduce conditions to ensure that transferable virtual items are retained in the context of gameplay and entertainment, as intended by game developers. Online games of chance that allow players to use virtual items from other games as a form of stake on casino games or match outcomes, such as skin-betting sites, will not be allowed. Second, it proposes to allow in-game monetisation facilities for free-to-play games

subject to conditions similar to those imposed on currently-exempted business promotion lucky draws (which will remain exempted in the new legislation. Rules relaxed for social gambling The MHA is also proposing the relaxation of regulations in respect of social gambling. The MHA recognizes that gambling among family and friends in homes is socially acceptable, and poses low law-and-order concerns. Hence, it proposes to exempt physical social gambling among family and friends, subject to conditions that safeguard against criminal exploitation. Social gambling among

family and friends will be expressly permitted under legislation, subject to the satisfaction of certain criteria. The MHA warned that strong enforcement action will be taken against syndicates which exploit the proposed exemption to conduct illegal gambling activities. Online social gambling among family and friends remains prohibited under the Remote Gambling Act due to enforcement difficulties. Finally, the MHA proposes to rationalise penalties across various gambling legislation. The Remote Gambling Act currently provides for a three-tier penalty structure for illegal online gambling, with the highest penalties imposed on operators, followed by agents and then punters. The MHA proposes to apply this differentiated penalty structure across all forms of gambling activity, so as to ensure consistency between online and physical gambling activities. Developing compliant games Game developers and other stakeholders in the gaming industry may wish to consider whether any of the elements in the games that they develop, in particular the game’s in-game monetisation facilities and transferability of transferable virtual items, would run afoul of the proposed amendments to the law in their current proposed form, and to monitor the report that is expected to be issued by the MHA as well as any draft legislation to be advanced. In particular, it is expected that the MHA will provide further clarity and detail on the conditions proposed to be imposed on transferable virtual items and in-game monetisation facilities for free-to-play games. The proposed exemption for social gambling represents a relaxation of Singapore’s prohibitive stance against gambling, other than in licensed land-based casinos or through exempted betting outlets and operators. It remains to be seen how the MHA intends to further define the conditions for social gambling, and whether it will introduce any presumptions or deeming provisions (e.g., whether there will be premotions as to what constitutes a “bona fide social relationship” among participants). *Wai Ming Yap is a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and is also the Managing Director at Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC, a Singapore law corporation affiliated with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Gina Ng is a senior associate.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021





Star shines focus on asset-light model The Star Entertainment Group is planning a series of strategic asset sales to reinvest into higher yielding areas of the business, including the potential for U.S.-style sale and leaseback accords.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021




indefinitely in the wake of serious allegations of misconduct at rival Crown Resorts. The Star said it’s reviewing the VIP business model and will increase the focus on International Premium Mass customers when the borders reopen. As a result, the company has already sold a jet and boat, raising $35 million. It plans to sell an additional jet this year. Among its property assets, Star is considering a sale and leaseback agreement. It is seeking to raise $250 million from the disposal of four Treasury buildings in Brisbane, including the hotel, casino, the former State Library building and the Queens Garden car park. It’s aiming for an agreement this fiscal year. Similarly, Star said it sees potential to unlock value from a sale and leaseback of its Star Sydney property, which has been the worst-affected by the Covid crisis. It said a formal process has started for a transaction, under which it would retain a stake of more than 50 percent. The Gold Coast and Queens Wharf properties may be added at a future date. The operator may follow a model similar to that adopted in the U.S. by companies, such as MGM Resorts, J.P. Morgan said in a recent analysis. “The US model is a good proxy,” the firm wrote in a note on Star’s results.” “In the past, SGR has looked at this approach but the volatility around VIP made it challenging. In

he group swung back to a profit in the full year to end-June 2021, helped by a strong performance from its Queensland properties. Net profit was $57.9 million compared with a loss of $94.8 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 3.9 percent to $1.54 billion. Star said that revenue trends in the secondhalf of the financial year had been strong, with electronic gaming machine sales surpassing pre-pandemic levels. However, since the yearend much of Australia has gone back into a protracted lockdown to curb the spread of the country’s worst outbreak of Covid so far. The Star Sydney has been shut since June 25, while the Gold Coast properties have had intermittent lockdowns. They are currently open, but operating under tight restrictions, including just one person per four square metres of space. As a result, management is looking at ways of further reducing debt and maximising growth. This includes releasing capital from non-core or low-yielding assets, such as VIP, the Treasury buildings in Brisbane and its Star Sydney property. The group reported virtually zero revenue from VIPs in the 2021 year, with the borders closed to international visitation, shutting off the key Asian source markets for this sector. Even when borders reopen, there are question marks over the VIP sector, with the use of junket operators having been suspended


Table Games


20% 0% -20% -40% -60%



Oct 2020









2021 (Source: Star Entertainment)

Tabcorp record lottery & keno figures for FY21 Despite nationwide impacts from Covid-19, wagering giant Tabcorp reported strong operational results in the FY21 full year, driven by record profits in lottery & keno and improved performance from its wagering and media arm. During the financial year ended June 30, Tabcorp group revenue increased 8.8 percent, whilst EBITDA increased 11.3 percent year-on-year. Statutory net profit after tax went from a loss of $870 million in FY20 to a profit of $269 million in FY21. Tabcorp said its Lotteries & Keno unit saw record profit results, despite below average jackpots, and digital turnover growth of 30 percent, with resilient performance in retail. It’s Wagering & Media arm saw improved performance across TAB, Media and International, with revenues reaching $2.3 billion, an increase of 10 percent year-on-year. As well as this, its digital wagering turnover grew 27 percent in the year.

the current state the whole model now looks like the US model.” The firm puts a value of about $3.6 billion on Star’s real estate. The operator also said it was still open to exploring potential opportunities with Crown Resorts. Star withdrew a $12 billion non-binding merger proposal with Crown after a probe in Victoria recommended that the company be stripped of its license to run its flagship property in Melbourne. Crown will hear by mid-October whether regulators follow through on the findings of the probe, but the uncertainty was enough to give Star cold feet. “I don’t know what requirements will be imposed on Crown out of Victoria; with that uncertainty I don’t know what we can and can’t do,” CEO Matt Bekier said in an interview with local media. “We have to have greater clarity about what we would actually be buying, then we can form a view of how much it’s worth.” He also hinted that Star may be interested in buying Crown’s new property in Sydney should Crown be broken up or forced to sell assets. Bekier said a merger with Crown still makes sense and would generate about $150 million in potential synergies. However, Bekier noted that in addition to the regulatory uncertainty there is also a power vacuum at Crown, with current Chair Helen Coonan set to leave the company at the end of August.

Victoria/NSW plan new casino regulators Victoria and New South Wales are planning a shake up of their regulatory structures to create bodies that focus specifically on casinos. The move follows damning findings from probes into Crown Resorts, which revealed serious lapses of corporate governance at the company, but also failings of the regulatory framework. In Victoria, the new regulator – The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) – will replace the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor regulation and will no longer have jurisdiction over alcohol. The VGCC will oversee all gambling from pokies through to the casino and its structure and governance have been formulated following an independent review from policy reform expert, Deborah Cope. A dedicated casino regulation division will sit within the new gambling regulator and focus solely on the casino operator. The New South Wales government is also looking into the creation of an Independent Casino Commission, again focusing solely on the sector and stripping out oversight of liquor.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


Crown affair to trigger more regulatory change Gaming product manufacturers may be required to make changes to the products that they offer in Australia as a result of recent royal commissions into Crown Resorts.


his was just one of many changes expected for the wider Australian gaming industry as a result of the inquiries in NSW, Victoria, and Western Australia, which saw the company “dragged through the mud” for its responsible gaming, anti-money laundering, corporate culture, and staff training failures. In Australia, all gaming machine equipment is required to follow a national standard (Australian/ New Zealand Gaming Machine National Standard 2016), which sets out requirements related to consumer protection, player information, artwork, security and integrity, auditability, and specifications. States and territories may make further addendums to the standards to fit with their individual requirements. Julian Hoskins, principal at law firm Senet, believes

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021

that there will be a review of the standards, particularly as it relates to responsible gambling measures. “Some of the mechanics and features of games may well alter in terms of customer interactions and what customers can do in relation to play,” said Hoskins, in an interview with Asia Gaming Brief. “I expect coming out of the royal commissions there will be a revamp of the Australian and New Zealand gaming standards, that’s work that needs to be done. It’s pretty light as it relates to responsible gaming at the moment and I fully expect regulators to be looking at that.” When asked what specific features of games may earn more regulator attention, Hoskins said he expected “more rapid games and games with the ability to place a higher number of bets” to be a focus for regulators going forward.”


Loyalty: No rewards for misuse and abuse of gambling activities Another significant change will come from loyalty programs currently being offered by Australia’s gaming operators. This includes the country’s pubs, clubs, hotels, and casinos, many of which offer a VIP loyalty program that rewards players based on money spent. “There is a lot of tension with loyalty programs as customers are often rewarded for their gambling spend but at the same time, that goes against responsible gaming practices where it encourages the misuse of gambling activities,” says Hoskins. “Loyalty programs in casinos and licensed venues allow the venue operator to be able to track player spending. However, the changes you may see will be that operators will no longer be able to treat players like high rollers where the data collected on the customer indicates they are vulnerable to gambling harm,” he said. Senet said they expect there to be a lot more research conducted into whether loyalty programs exacerbate gambling harm, whether there is a link between loyalty programs and riskier behavior, as well as what impact loyalty programs have on culturally diverse communities that are more vulnerable to harm.

Earlier this month, a problem gambler who had at one point asked to be banned from Melbourne’s Crown Casino has sued the casino giant for $4.6 million, alleging that the company knew or should have known he had a gambling addiction but continued to entice him to come to the casino to pick up free gifts, dinners, holidays and tickets to concerts and sports events. The gambler would gamble upwards of $30,000 coming into the casino to pick up the free gifts. “Whether it’s a casino or licensed gaming venue, conduct that is likely to encourage the misuse and abuse of gambling activities is not tolerated by gambling regulators,” he said.

was 20 years ago. Personally, I think that’s the wrong approach in a country like Australia. The right approach is a risk-based approach to compliance where the greatest risks are identified and appropriate policies, procedures and controls are implemented to mitigate those risks. .” “In the case of junkets, a risk-based compliance framework is needed to ensure that junket agents, players and representatives are properly identified and the casino has identified their source of funds and source of wealth.” Julian Hoskins, principal at Senet

Junkets not returning soon Hoskins also said it is not likely that junkets will be returning to Australia’s casinos anytime soon until operators can demonstrate they have processes and procedures in place to remain free from criminal influence and exploitation. In Victoria, a dedicated casino regulator is being established. The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) will have oversight of all gambling activities taking over the regulation from the existing VCGLR. “It’s going back to casino regulation as it

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


Sporting bets on Olympics, Japan and esports With major sporting events set to resume their Autumn schedules and fresh off the back of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, our focus section in this edition of Asia Gaming Briefing is on the sports betting world.


he Japanese government pressed ahead with the games, which had already been delayed by a year, despite rising Covid cases in the country. Although a great sporting achievement, the decision drew criticism and the final bill looks set to be about $15.4 billion, making them the most expensive ever. In our first article in this section, we examine how the heavy expense of the games, coupled with the ongoing Covid drag on the economy and the coffers of the country’s sports clubs may be the catalyst that pushes the government to expand legalized sports betting earlier than anticipated. Some figures in the industry say there is a buzz that the market could be opened up by as early as 2024, with eye-popping projections for potential. Our second piece looks at the Olympics-effect on sports betting. Without a doubt, Covid dampened enthusiasm towards the four-yearly event, with no cheering crowds permitted into the stadiums to spur on the athletes. It was an extra element adding to why sports books fail to get as excited about the Olympics as other

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021

major sporting events, such as Premier League soccer tournaments. Despite the global audience figures, the games fail to generate anywhere near as much in betting volumes as some other major competitions. We look at why this is the case and what was new in Tokyo 2020. The use of drones to live stream horse racing in the U.K. has become widespread and is being increasingly viewed as a problem for sports integrity and illegal gambling. Another of our articles in this section examines the impact and extent of this problem and why horse racing clubs in other jurisdictions should also take note. Brant Dunshea, chief regulatory officer of the British Horseracing Authority, tells us that once an illegal practice takes hold in one market, it’s not long before it spreads to other parts of the globe. Lastly, Purbrick & Associates puts esports under the spotlight. The article looks at the potential for future growth and what’s likely to drive expansion in the market, in particular in Asia. Mobile esports are gaining ground fast in the region, although so far betting revenue is not catching up, with the sector dominated by the younger, casual player.


Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


Basketball‌ ‌scores‌ ‌in‌ ‌Olympics‌ ‌betting‌ ‌preferences‌ ‌ Basketball surged in popularity in terms of Olympics sports betting preferences at Tokyo 2020, though sports book operators said the games were not a major driver of volumes.


ccording to a pre-event survey from the American Gaming Association more than 20 million people said they planned to bet on the Olympics. This was the first such survey from the AGA and the first Olympics since sports betting was legalized outside of Nevada in 2018. Despite the hugely expanded audience potential in the U.S., sports books say they have not seen a major boost from the Olympics, which have always failed to generate the same level of volume as some other sporting tournaments, such as major football leagues.

Asia Gaming Briefings | August 2021

Television viewership for the games was also down significantly, with the Tokyo time zone proving challenging for major markets in the U.S. and Europe. In the U.K., the BBC reported a 39.4 percent decline in viewership for the opening ceremony compared with the Rio de Janeiro games. U.S. network NBC reported its lowest audience figures for an opening ceremony in 33 years. Australia and Japan, reported higher numbers. “If we compare individual sports against normal betting levels then we had many which had a significant boost during the Olympic weeks, so that was welcome -


but if we compare the overall turnover against normal weekly betting levels then the Olympics hasn’t really created a boost on volumes – this is normal for the Olympics which are not a catalyst for betting in the same way as major football tournaments,” said Jay Dossetter, head of corporate communications for Entain, which owns brands such as Ladbrokes and Coral. “It’s largely as we expected. This is mainly based on experience from previous Olympics, but also when factoring in the time-zone of this Olympics compared to our major European markets.” Dave Povey, head of sports book at RPM Gaming explained that part of the problem in driving betting excitement for the Olympics is the four-year cycle. While major sports such as basketball and tennis, will retain momentum, more niche sports will fade from view once the games are over. “If you’re a lesser sport, even if you captured the public’s imagination in Tokyo,

it’s very hard to take that spike in exposure and awareness and translate it into ongoing engagement with that sport. In short, viewers and bettors are very habitual,” he said. “And habit-forming takes time. Unfortunately for those sports looking to make a mark longterm, or sportsbooks hoping to promote the likes of cycling, swimming, surfing or skateboarding beyond their Olympic campaigns, the interest simply won’t endure.” “So, while you’ll always hear the regular tropes around 40 percent of the entire planet watching the Games, the harsh reality is that most of us will only revisit the lower-tier sports when the next Olympics returns. Sadly, it means these sports’ governing organisations will struggle to effectively capitalise on the growth potential of this quadrennial sporting shop window – and sportsbook operators have drawn a similar conclusion for their punters.” Still there were some noteworthy betting trends to have emerged from Tokyo 2020.

According to Entain, basketball was the most popular sport for the first time, helped by the introduction of 3x3 basketball. In Rio, basketball accounted for about 17 percent of its business with that figure rising to 27 percent for Tokyo. That trend corresponds with the AGA’s pre-games survey, with 45 percent of those questioned saying they would bet on basketball, far and away the highest percentage, topping soccer which came in second at 34 percent. Entain said basketball, soccer, tennis and volleyball accounted for 76 percent of all bets placed. In terms of inplay and prematch split, 63 percent were live bets and 37 percent were pre-match. There was also one interesting exception that seems to be bucking the trend and that’s table tennis. The sport gained in popularity during the Covid pandemic when the Russian and Ukraine leagues were the only live events still being held.

According to Entain, basketball was the most popular sport for the first time, helped by the introduction of 3x3 basketball.

“Consequently, worldwide operators came to realise they’d missed an obvious trick in seldom promoting the sport, whose format is essentially “quick-fire tennis”, Povey said. “Luckily for them, the pandemic lasted long enough for habit-formation and lasting retention to kick in around the sport.” Jade Gaming CEO Joe Pisano said the sport has benefited greatly from technological improvements in data capture and analysis. “With accurate, up-to-the-second scores running directly – and progressively reliably – off in-venue feeds, there are many more opportunities to bet in-play than most other sports. In short, somewhere in the world, someone’s usually playing a competitive match that’s live and accessible.”

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


Covid/Olympic costs may speed Japan sports betting regulation Japan’s government may move to expand legalized sports betting sooner than expected as it seeks to rebuild its Covid-ravaged economy and recoup costs from hosting the Olympic games, industry figures say.


arlier this year, the Financial Times reported that the government had commissioned a report to look into legalizing betting on major sports such as football and baseball. It said internal discussions have already begun. At present, betting is only permitted on horse racing, cycling, boat racing and motorcycling, both through online and retail outlets. However, the illegal market is large and growing, with the government turning a largely blind eye to the practice. The world’s third-largest economy grew an annualised 1.3 percent in April-June after a revised 3.7 percent slump in the first quarter, according to preliminary gross domestic product figures. Although the 2Q21 figure was better than analysts had anticipated, they say the outlook is still uncertain due to ongoing restrictions to fight Covid. Add to that the costs of hosting the Covid-delayed Olympic Games, which have been put at $15.4 billion, making them the most expensive ever, the government has clear incentive to look for further revenue sources. Kåre Hilt Ingvaldsen, the Tokyo-based Asia Pacific manager at odds data provider TXOdds, said there has not been much in the way of updates from officials, but “the vibe is that this will definitely happen eventually and maybe even sooner than expected.” Jade Entertainment CEO Joe Pisano goes one step further, putting a potential date of 2024 for the opening of the market. He says Jade Sportsbet is seeing increasing interest from Japanese companies in anticipation of legalisation. “Despite relatively limited offerings, the regulated gambling industry in Japan generated a reported $55 billion in “revenues” in 2019 for the four sports on which wagering is allowed. An expansion of those offerings is projected to more than double those numbers,” he said. Although technically still illegal to bet on overseas websites offering sports betting, the market is expanding rapidly, with soccer and baseball dominating the field. Hilt Ingvaldsen points to a survey from AsahiSimilarWeb last year that found that Bet365, one of the biggest online sportsbooks worldwide, saw an increase in views from 860,000 in December 2018 to 13,2 million in July 2020 from Japanese users.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021

A key concern for the industry, however, is what the shape of any future regulation will look like. Initial euphoria from land-based operators about Japan’s potential has waned as the highly restrictive regulatory framework and high taxation base has become clearer. With the much slimmer margins in the sports


betting world and intense competition, regulation will need to satisfy demands to address potential problem gambling concerns without imposing restrictions that place too heavy a drag on investment. “Clearly, the jury remains out on what future regulation will definitively look like and that’s the bellwether,” said Dave Povey, head of sports book at RPM Gaming. “However, speaking more generally, applying Covid-related pressure to an economy, both through lost revenue directly from illegal forms of gambling, alongside loss of revenue for professional sports clubs, means the Japanese authorities will have to start thinking about opening up online sports betting more seriously.” The central league in the Nippon Professional Baseball league saw attendance

vibe is that “thisThe will definitely happen eventually and maybe even sooner than expected.

drop 78 percent in 2020. Given that sales from tickets and related food and beverage make up more than half of the team’s revenue, the impact on club coffers is clear.

Povey suggests there are existing models that could be adopted, such as the Hong Kong Jockey Club with its strong focus on returning to the local community through its philanthropic projects. “As for a perceived loss of integrity in sports through betting, that would be a majorly misguided concern, especially with a huge illegal market already evident,” Povey said. “After all, rather than outlaw betting and gaming amongst consumers primed to engage, governments should realise that the opportunity to regulate any existing market, benefiting from the ensuing taxation, is a chance not to be dismissed.” The pluses will always outweigh the negatives if you get a responsible system in place, rather than risk a market turning or reverting to black,” he said.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


(Credit: Ryan Christodoulou)


U.K.’s drone dilemma poses global threat The use of drones to facilitate inplay betting on the U.K.’s horseracing courses has become a scourge for the industry that could easily spread to other global jurisdictions, regulators warn.


he British Horseracing Authority (BHA) says that the problem is now so widespread in the U.K. that there isn’t a fixture when the drones aren’t present. The Covid pandemic, which saw spectators banned from the stands, has exacerbated the problem. “I receive my race day summaries and every single fixture our team are noting one, two, three drone operators operating beyond the boundary of our racecourse trying to gain in-running pictures,” said Brant Dunshea, chief regulatory officer of the BHA. “The UK is a really unique market,” he said. “I’ve not been made directly aware of it having been made a problem elsewhere, but inevitably in my 30 years in racing administration, where we’ve seen an integrity related threat pop up in one jurisdiction it pretty quickly

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021

pops up elsewhere.” There’s a lot at stake, both for the race courses and for the drone operators. Dunshea said in some cases the drones can provide live footage as much as five to 10 seconds ahead of the terrestrial broadcasts, giving punters a significant edge. “There was one company that advertised on social media the opportunity to pay a subscription to gain access to the feeds,” he said. “It was at an address in London.” As well as selling to individual punters, local U.K. media have reported that the drone operators are also selling the feeds to major online betting platforms. For the race courses, the practice jeopardizes their lucrative broadcast rights, a key source of income. “The racecourses own the rights to the footage and it’s a serious issue for them. It’s a classic case of


how regulations are racing to keep up with technology,” Dunshea said. Still, it’s a tricky legal question. Drones have been in use legally in British racing since 2015, when they streamed pictures from Royal Ascot. Operators need permission from the BHA and be operating in accordance with Civil Aviation Guidelines. The horse racing body has a set of stringent guidelines that must be adhered to and a formal agreement must be in place. However, those drone operators streaming from land adjacent to the tracks and not impinging on the territory are not technically illegal as long as they comply with CAA guidelines. “We don’t have regulatory oversight of those operators,” Dunshea said. “We can work with the Racecourse Association, the course and law enforcement to try to best manage the situation.” At the Grand National this year, one of the most popular dates in the U.K. horse racing calendar, authorities did have some success. The BHA’s integrity staff worked with local police to arrest three individuals operating a drone offsite. An employee of drone operator FoxFly was also arrested in Ireland earlier this year, when police judged he had breached lockdown regulations. The company told Ireland’s Sunday World that it planned to fight the case on the grounds that the employee was providing digital content for public use, which fell under the Covid lockdown exemptions. The company owner, named as Mick McCool, told the newspaper that Foxfly’s drone operators are fully licensed, that they comply with all relevant regulations covering the use of drones by observing the races in non-built up areas located up to a mile away. For horseracing authorities, the proliferation of unregulated activity is a key integrity issue. “The risk is obviously beyond just our shores,” says Dunshea. “We know that people wishing to wager on our product can do so through grey market operators, or those who are operating outside of the regulatory framework. As an integrity threat it’s a broad one and has no boundaries.” Dave Povey, head of sportsbook for RPM Gaming, agrees that there are no upsides from the use of drones. “I can only see negatives here – there’s very little upside to the regular viewer / punter in terms of bird’s eye view on events, so it’s more a fad that could fade really. However, there are significant integrity issues around sporting organisations and syndicates using drones for their own benefit and stealing a march on operators.”

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


Harold Purbrick*

Purbrick & Associates

Esports continue to race ahead, with Asia a key focus Esports continue to record strong growth and while the mobile sector is gaining momentum in terms of number of viewers, it’s still the more traditional forms that dominate when it comes to betting revenue.


nce a relatively niche part of the video gaming industry, professional esports has grown significantly in recent years. With a total audience number of over 500 million, esports has moved beyond its humble beginnings and is now mainstream entertainment. Unsurprisingly, betting on esports has also grown in parallel with viewers, and is an increasingly important product in the gambling business. Most estimates place total esports betting revenue in 2020 at around $10-15

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021

billion, which is set to continue to grow in the future as esports fans in Asia participate in betting. The growth of esports betting shows no sign of slowing down, boosted during the COVID-19 pandemic as betting on traditional sports was impacted and consumers switched to the less interrupted esports. A 2CV survey suggests that the pandemic has shifted some gamblers away from traditional sports, noting that nearly a third of those who had bet on esports only started doing so recently and a significant number


of regular gamblers who had never bet on esports before said that they would consider doing so in future. The UK Gambling Commission published a survey in 2020 suggesting that esports betting is growing quickly, especially among young men. The survey showed that nearly 10 percent of all adults in the UK have bet on esports, and that more than a third of men aged 18 to 24 had done so. A 2017 report from the UK Gambling Commission estimated that 58 percent of esports bettors were men, while 42 percent were women. The same report also noted that women were more likely to bet using ‘in-game items’ rather than money, suggesting that they are active gamers as they utilise virtual skins for betting. This may indicate that in Asia, where the gender gap in gambling is noticeably wider, more women may bet on esports in the future. The most popular esports titles today

(and by extension the most bet on), are Counterstrike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), League of Legends, Dota 2, and Valorant. These games are competitive and team-based, typically revolving around strategy in addition to individual skill. Competitive games tend to attract a large player-base, a requirement for any successful esport game, as viewership is strongly tied to player participation. For example, Dota 2’s tournament prize pools are comparatively high, reaching upwards of $40 million for their largest events, and are funded primarily through the purchase of in-game items by players. The same is true for esports betting, especially given the prevalence of using virtual skins as wagers, suggesting that esports betting is especially popular among those who play the games themselves. Bettors who don’t play esports games are unlikely to have access to the virtual items. This is especially true for CS:GO, as the game has similar betting revenues to League of Legends despite having a smaller player-base, likely due to the success of its virtual economy. Esports viewership depends on the game, but major tournaments regularly attract viewers in the millions. League of Legends, with a player-base of around 115 million monthly active users, had an estimated 100 million total viewers during 2019 World Championships, demonstrating that player engagement in esports is extremely high. The same tournament also reached a peak of 44 million concurrent viewers, according to figures released by the game developers. Previous estimates of peak viewership for the tournament were just 4 million, but did not include Chinese viewers, suggesting that China could make up as much as 90 percent of League of Legends viewership. League of Legends is particularly popular in Asia – three of the last four world championships have been held in Asian countries, and the 2021 championship is set to be held in multiple cities across China. Though the games mentioned above have dominated the esports scene, a new area of the market is emerging in the form of mobile esports. A number of mobile esports held events with prize pools comparable to most major esports tournaments, such as the Peacekeeper Elite 2021 Season 1 Playoffs’ $2 million prize pool. Mobile esports also have high viewership figures, among the largest in the entire industry. The 2021 Free Fire World Series reached a peak of 5.4 million concurrent viewers, making it one of the most

highly-viewed esports events ever. Unlike traditional esports titles, mobile esports are also largely Asia-centric. The Free Fire mobile game World Series was hosted in Singapore. The Peacekeeper Elite mobile game events are held exclusively in China. At one point, Indian players may have made up as much as half of the Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds mobile game’s 60 million daily active users. Mobile esports betting may grow to match that of the currently dominant esports within the next few years. However, impressive viewership figures and prize pools of mobile esports does not necessarily translate to betting revenue. A significant portion of the viewers are likely to be under-18 as mobile games are oriented more towards younger audiences. Even with its relatively rapid growth, esports betting remains illegal in many countries. Esports betting is explicitly allowed

Unlike traditional “esports titles, mobile esports are also largely Asiacentric.

by regulators in a limited number of countries, including the UK, Australia, and some parts of the EU (Spain, Malta). Certain states in the US have also regulated esports betting, especially Nevada. However, esports betting remains illegal in much of Asia, despite the region being a major part of the esports playing scene. There is commercial interest in expanding the esports industry in countries such as Singapore and Japan, but little indication has been given that esports betting will be regulated in these areas in the near future. Despite this, it is evident that esports’ popularity is growing in Asia, and the already substantial illegal betting market in Asia is likely to grow even larger. * Harold Purbrick of Purbrick & Associates, a risk management consulting firm that specializes in geopolitical risk as well as sports integrity.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021





Courts uphold skill-game legality in major step forward for industry India is viewed as one of the most promising markets in Asia for the skill-based online gambling industry and recent court rulings have helped cement the legality of the practice. Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021




GROSS GAMING REVENUE Esports Revenue in Asia $543.8M

Global Esports Revenue $1B


*Revenue generated by the esports industry including sporsonships, licensing, franchising, ticketing, merchandise, and other revenues, does NOT include game revenue. (Source: Niko Partners)

Japan/India fastest growing esports markets in Asia Darang Candra, director of South East Asia for Niko Partners has identified Japan and India as the two fastestgrowing esports markets in Asia, outside of China. Candra made the comments out of the 2021 Esports in Asia report, which was released by Niko Partners in July. In the report, it found that the esports industry in Asia saw a 4.9 percent growth in 2020, despite challenges brought on by Covid-19. Esports viewership in Asia also boomed in 2020, growing to 618 million esports spectators – up 21 percent from 2019.

(Credit: Ella Don)

t’s been a case of one step forward and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 which two steps back in recent years, with prohibited and criminalised playing online various state governments choosing games for bet, wager or other stakes. These to ban skill-based online gambling. provisions had obliterated the differentiation That’s despite a Supreme Court ruling saying between games of skill and chance, which runs that games such as poker and rummy, even contrary to well-established jurisprudence when played for real money, have more of laid down by the Supreme Court.” a skill component than pure chance and “The court has accepted that running therefore are legal. online games falls under the right to carry India has no central regulatory framework on trade and commerce guaranteed under for gambling, with individual states left Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution and has to decide their approach to the industry. asked the state government to introduce a However, there are recent signs that there proportionate, balanced and least-intrusive may be potential for change. legislation to regulate the online skill-gaming Leading think tank, the NITI Aayog, industry, if they so desire.” put forward a draft paper last year on how Still, the anti-gambling sentiment runs a central framework might be put in place deep and challenges continue to appear. for online gambling. The Prime Minister’s The Rajasthan High Court struck down Office recently confirmed to G2G news a petition last year arguing that fantasy that it may be put to the country’s Council sports company Dream 11 was not offering of Ministers for debate. games of skill. The PMO’s office Notwithstanding, was responding to a the case was appealed Right to Information a l l t h e w ay t o t h e request by law yer Supreme Court, which It’s been up Jay S ay t a , but n o in a landmark ruling to the individual further information upheld the decisions was provided and no of regional courts in state courts to timeframe given. B omb ay, Punjab & seek to uphold In the meantime, Haryana and Rajasthan it’s been up to the that the company’s the Supreme individual state courts business model was Court’s wishes to seek to uphold based on skill. the Supreme Court’s Local media reported and respond to wishes and respond Gopal Jain, a senior numerous legal to numerous legal advocate to the Supreme challenges. challenges. Court as saying: “The In August, the Supreme Court while Madras High Court dismissing the SLP struck down a ban against Rajasthan High imposed by the Tamil Nadu government Court Order, has emphasized that, with the on online games of skill, marking another dismissal of SLPs against orders of Punjab key step for the industry in India. & Haryana and Bombay High Court, the The petition had been brought by online issue of gambling is already decided by operators, including Junglee Games, which it. Simply put, the Fantasy Sports formats argued that the ban represented an “over- which are in line with the analysis of the paternalistic stance taken by the state in Punjab & Haryana High Court are games bringing about sweeping amendments to of skill and are legal formats no more open an existing law.” to scrutiny.” The company argued that the ban A source in India’s gambling industry infringes their fundamental rights and was recently told AGB that the decision was of unreasonable to the point of being arbitrary. great importance to the Fantasy Sports Sector. Sayta, who appeared in the online “Such a decision which treats fantasy gaming matter said “the historic verdict sports positively would be of immense is a boost for the nascent and burgeoning benefit to fantasy sports operators and the online gaming industry.” overall online skill gaming sector as it would “The Madras High Court has struck down provide much needed certainty with regard provisions of the Tamil Nadu Gaming and to the legal status of the game,” he said.

Baazi Games reports exploding revenue growth Indian fantasy sports are seeing surging growth, with Baazi Games alone recording compound average revenue growth of about 70 percent over the past three years, co-founder and marketing director, Varun Ganjoo, told Business Times. Cricket is the most popular game, making up about 85-90 percent of revenue. Out of its 10 million-strong user base, 7 million are for its BalleBaazi division, which includes cricket, football and kabaddi.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021





Politics cast clouds over Japan IR aspirations

Japan’s efforts to establish an IR industry face rising uncertainty as politics derail one candidate city and another’s selection procedures are called into question.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


n late August, anti-casino candidate Takeharu Yamanaka handed a resounding defeat to both the incumbent and the ruling party-backed candidate in Yokohama mayoral elections. The defeat has crushed the hopes of establishing a casino in the city for at least the next four years and more likely the next seven. Yokohama was seen as one of the most promising sites for an IR in Japan and was one of only two major metropolitan centres still in contention. Yokohama is the second-largest city in Japan and is situated in the Greater Tokyo area, which is home to more than 37 million people. Former Mayor Fumiko Hayashi announced Yokohama’s candidacy as an IR location in August 2019. It was a relative latecomer to the race, but became a firm favourite, with operators such as Melco Resorts & Entertainment and Las Vegas Sands immediately switching their allegiance from Osaka. Eight IR firms told the Yokohama municipal government at the time that they anticipated annual revenues of between JPY350 billion (about $3.2 billion) and JPY880 billion (about $8 billion) and EBITDA in the JPY80 billion (about $730 million) to JPY210 billion (about $1.9 billion) range. However, local authorities were never able to overcome deep-seated opposition to casinos in the town, especially from prominent local businessman, Yukio Fujiki, known as the Don of Yokohama. He threated to commit suicide should a property be opened at the 47-hectare Yamashita Pier site. The withdrawal of Yokohama leaves Genting


Singapore and Melco Resorts & Entertainment out in the cold. They had been the two remaining bidders for a license in the city. As of now, there are just three locations seeking to host an IR. Osaka has chosen a consortium between MGM Resorts and Orix Corp, while Wakayama went with Clairvest. In both of these two cities, there was only one potential operator partner to choose from after other candidates dropped out. Nagasaki has chosen Casinos Austria over a partnership between Oshidori and Mohegan Sun and a group of companies, known as the Parkview Group. However, both Parkview and Oshidori have cried foul. The latter group issued a press release shortly before the winning candidate was announced, claiming the RFP process had not been fair or transparent. “The restrictions imposed by Nagasaki Prefecture are unreasonable, and at present it is not possible to conduct business in a rational and effective manner,” it said in a statement. Daniel Cheng, a seasoned hospitality and gaming professional, who has been following the development of Japan’s IR industry closely, said the political upset in Yokohama has potential wide-ranging implications. The central government may decide to go ahead with just the three cities remaining in the bidding, however, he said it may also be a good opportunity to press the reset button. Delaying and reviewing the process may allow the re-entry of Hokkaido, or for Tokyo to join, rather than pressing ahead with the current line-up. Industry observers have noted that the

Sega Sammy 2Q sales jump on pachislot/pachinko

Casinos Austria IR to feature 2,200 slots, 220 table games

Sega Sammy Holdings saw a surge in sales for its pachislot and pachinko business in 2Q21, as venues began replacing older machines with new ones in order to comply with a new set of regulations. The group said net sales of its pachislot and pachinko business increased 282.8 percent in the quarter, reaching JPY10.4 billion (US$94.3 million). It also reported a narrowed ordinary loss of JPY1.5 billion, down from a loss of JPY8.5 billion in the previous year. “With regard to the pachislot and pachinko industry, the machines based on former regulations are being replaced with new regulation machines to meet the deadline for removing them, which is scheduled for the end of January 2022.” On the other hand, Sega Sammy’s resorts business saw mixed results.

Casinos Austria, the preferred bidding partner for an IR in Nagasaki, has outlined its plans, which include 2,200 slot machines and 220 table games. The resort will be developed alongside the Dutch-themed Huis Ten Bosch park and will feature eight hotels, conference and exhibition centres and entertainment complexes. It named one of its partners as Hyatt Hotel Group and said there will also be Japanese partners involved in the project. “By passing this milestone in the award process in Japan, Casinos Austria International has once again demonstrated the kind of excellent reputation that the company enjoys abroad,” said Casinos Austria’s CEO Bettina GlatzKremsner. “After years of restructuring, CAI is back on track. Its know-how and expertise in the development and operation of such complex projects continue to be impressive.”

initial high expectations for the market are now unlikely to be met in the first round of IR developments. Restrictive regulations, coupled with high taxation and the lack of major urban candidates involved will reduce the potential for GGR generation. On a wider macro level, the upset in Yokohama has also changed the dynamic of national politics ahead of general elections that will be held in the next couple of months. There are widespread expectations that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will face a challenge to his leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The Japanese public has become increasingly frustrated with its handling of the Covid crisis in the country. “At this time, it is easy to say that Suga does not look to be the best choice as the face of the LDP considering his administration’s sub-30 percent approval ratings,” said Joji Kokuryo, managing director at Bay City Ventures, who believes that for now the implementation schedule will go ahead as planned despite the upset in Yokohama. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bulldozered the IR implementation bill through parliament. However, it’s unclear how willing a new and weakened LDP leadership would be to continue to champion a cause that still has not won over public opinion. As of now, the IR Implementation Bill will proceed according to the planned timetable, however, the level of political uncertainty has spiked and if the opposition were able to unseat the LDP in national elections, the whole IR process could be revoked.

IR HOST CITY CANDIDATES Population in the candidate cities Osaka 2.59m Nagasaki 410,499

Wakayama 364,154

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021



Saipan online gambling seen as a non-starter Saipan’s casino regulator says it wants to hear from potential online gaming investors as it seeks to recoup lost revenue from its failed casino venture, however, industry insiders say they don’t see the island as a viable market.


egislators are mulling whether to approve a bill legalizing online gambling. The bill would only relate to Saipan and not other islands in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana chain, such as Tinian and Rota, which have a separate regulatory framework for their own casinos and gaming. Imperial Pacific International has the sole rights to operate a casino on Saipan, however, its license has been suspended indefinitely and looks set to be revoked after the operator failed to finish construction and pay its annual $3 million regulatory fee. Legislators are now grappling with how to generate revenue and boost the local economy, which is highly dependent on tourism and some see internet gaming as the way forward. Industry insiders are not convinced and question where online gaming operators on Saipan would find a market. The CNMI is a U.S. protectorate and thus governed by federal law. Under the U.S. Wire Act that means that the island would not be able to take bets from other U.S. states, while it would also be forbidden from accepting bets from countries where online gambling is illegal. This would leave operators with a local market of about 56,000 people, with low levels of disposable income for gambling. As one insider pointed out, an operator deciding to try their luck and target markets such as Mainland China would be foolhardy, due to the strict U.S. federal government regulations. “This is not the Philippines or Cambodia, this is the U.S. and you have the federal government looking at you,” he said. Andrew Klebanow, principal of C3

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021

Gaming Group said Saipan is already awash in electronic gaming devices. “The local population is well-served by a number of slot halls and video poker parlors. Given the relatively small residential population, it is doubtful that an online operation would generate much revenue,” he said. “Also, local legislators would find themselves in the crosshairs of the religious community for enacting gambling laws that make it easier for residents to gamble.” “In short, there is no way, short of the passage of a federal law that would give the CNMI the right to host offshore gambling sites that target citizens of foreign countries, for a casino operator in Saipan to set up and operate an offshore gaming operation.” Another factor hindering the potential development of an online gaming industry on Saipan would be the lack of access to personnel. IPI has already found to its cost that tight restrictions on imported labour through programs such as the CW1 visa program, created headaches in both constructing and running the casino. The local workforce is not large enough and lacks the skill and language sets to operate call centers and technical support for example. Even if there was a way around this factor, there is a set minimum wage in the U.S. making it a far more expensive prospect to set up operations on Saipan rather than Cambodia or the Philippines. Although internet connectivity on the island has improved, it is subject to frequent typhoons which have caused significant infrastructural damage, forcing the closure of the airport and causing power outages. Typhoon Yutu, for example, which swept the area in 2018, destroyed 3,000 homes,

flattened hundreds of power lines and left the airport inoperable, with operations still only at 70 percent capacity more than six months later. Given its remote geographic location in the South Pacific, data is also more expensive than other possible jurisdictions available to igaming operators in the Asia Pacific region.


SAIPAN/KOREA TRAVEL BUBBLE Number of passengers on the first two flights








Slot parlors seek to halt fee hike

(Credit: Sung Shin)

Saipan slot parlors have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Finance in an attempt to prevent a new local license fee hike. The fee essentially doubles the tax rate imposed on electronic gaming devices, which was signed into law in August 2020. Mariana Entertainment, LLC, and MP Holdings, LLC, the owners of Club 88 and Saipan Vegas Resort have asked the Superior Court for a temporary restraining order and preliminary permanent injunction that would prevent the Department from assessing and collecting the local license fee. The plaintiffs argued that if the injunction was not granted, 70 of its employees would lose their jobs and the entire electronic gaming industry would disappear.

Operators interested in Saipan casino license, regulator says

If the Saipan House Bill were to pass and investors consider Saipan, it would have to be based on a long-term and speculative view of the future, with potential value coming in should the U.S. relax laws on cross-state gaming. The source said that while at present that seems highly unlikely, the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA)

had also at one time seemed far-fetched. The Supreme Court voted to strike down the act in May, 2018 and since then the U.S. sports betting and online markets have boomed. Even under such a scenario, the more skeptical may still question why a U.S. punter would accept bets from a tiny Pacific island when they have major jurisdictions closer to home.

Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director Andrew Yeom says the commission has received a number of inquiries from interested parties in Saipan’s casino license, should IPI’s one be revoked. “I cannot tell you who, how many. But yes,” said Yeom, in response to questioning from Gaming Committee vice chair Rep. Christina E. Sablan’s (D-Saipan). Yeom however said that the commission’s focus will be in resolving the problems brought on by its current licensee IPI. If that doesn’t happen, then there is the possibility of revoking IPI’s license, he said.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


It’s show time - Or is it? As in-person events begin to ramp up again, at least in Europe and the U.S., suppliers need to make some difficult choices about whether or not to attend and who to send.


early all of those polled by Asia Gaming Brief have expressed a strong desire to attend events in person. Most are suffering from Zoom fatigue and after 18 months of teleconferencing have realized that digital formats don’t make up for social interaction. The events provide an invaluable opportunity to meet with friends and colleagues and expand business networks. However, in the post-pandemic world it’s not so easy. For colleagues in Asia, travel is still highly prohibitive. There are few flights and for many, stringent quarantine requirements are in place on return. Executives need to ask whether it’s worth spending 10 days or more in isolation for the sake of a three-day event. For those in Macau, travel remains off the agenda, with the borders effectively closed to anyone outside of the Greater China region. Then, there’s the unpredictable nature of the Delta variant. Colleagues in Australia had been looking forward to the return of the Australasian Gaming

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021

Expo in August, however, that was cancelled within just weeks to the event as the virus spread. The country, which had fared well in controlling the virus due to its closed border policy, is now struggling to regain the upper hand, with much of the country back in lockdown. Although the online gaming industry fared well during the pandemic and land-based operators are now seeing a strong bounce back once properties reopen, costs were also cited as an issue when determining what events to attend and where. Likewise how many people and who to send. Some said the decision is likely to be very much last minute.. In the following pages, you will find news from suppliers on their latest products as well as some thoughts on the upcoming gaming calendar. Among the events this month is a conference by the International Association of Gaming Regulators in Boston, while SBC will be holding a sports betting summit in Barcelona. In October, the focus will be on G2E in Las Vegas, which is the show most suppliers have said they will attend.










Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


Holland, Malta, England: Meet the 1xBet team at leading shows!


or the last year and a half, representatives of the gambling industry have been holding meetings and exhibitions online. And although this format was far from optimal, it contributed to the globalisation of events because it was possible to connect to each other from anywhere in the world. But nothing can replace live communication - and the 1xBet team is pleased to announce its presence at the world’s leading exhibitions dedicated to the gambling industry. We are open for meetings with old acquaintances, to exchange experiences and ideas, and to make new contacts. Here is a list of events where you can meet the 1xBet team: • iGB Live & iGB Affiliate Amsterdam - 28 September - 1 October 2021 • SiGMA Europe - 16-18 November 2021 • ICE London - 1-3 February 2022 How do you find us? It’s simple! At each of the exhibitions, you can approach the 1xBet stand and chat with our representatives. We’re ready to answer any questions and discuss possible ways of doing business and potentially collaborating. Increasing conversions and profits, new approaches to old tasks, potential sponsorships - we’re ready to discuss all relevant

topics in the gambling industry. Exhibitions are an excellent opportunity to make new acquaintances and conclude favourable

partnership agreements. Don’t miss your chance to chat with representatives of the leading betting brand - 1xBet!


Showcasing new products at G2E


he next event that AGS is attending is the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) October 4-7 in Las Vegas. We look forward to showcasing our many new slot, table, and interactive products, and we are eagerly anticipating reconnecting with customers and partners. At this year’s Global Gaming Expo, in Booth No. 1253, AGS will showcase an array of slot, table, and interactive products designed to drive revenue, player engagement, and operating efficiencies. In its Slots portfolio, highlights will include new games for the award-winning Starwall x Orion video display, the Prize Stacks games Tiki Shores and Tiki Jungle, along with the Epic Reels Family featuring Musha and Muoko. The company will also highlight its Orion Curve Premium platform featuring new Mega Boost game Wheel Charge and the Vegas Gold family, highlighted by launch title Golden BLVD. From AGS’ table products division, G2E attendees will see the award-winning Bonus Spin Xtreme progressive and the Company’s new Pax S single-deck packet shuffler, as well as an array of new proprietary table games, progressives, side bets, and table signage. And from the company’s interactive division, highlights will include AGS’ real-money gaming platform and content, including Rakin’ Bacon!, Capital Gains, Red Silk, and Fu Nan Fu Nu, which have been strong performers in online markets in the U.S. and internationally.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


Acquisitions for digital growth


ristocrat Leisure has bought three studios to expand its Digital game development capability, in line with its growth strategy. The investments are strongly aligned to targeted genres, particularly the high-growth casual and merge segments where Aristocrat Digital already has a presence, and the social casino segment, in which the business has a marketleading position globally. Aristocrat has agreed to acquire Helsinkibased free-to-play mobile gaming studio Futureplay, which specialises in the growing merge/match 3 segment of the casual market. Founded in 2015, Futureplay has released six games that have been played by over 140

million users around the world, including titles such as Merge Gardens, Idle Farming Empire and Battlelands Royale. Futureplay will operate under the proven leadership of Jami Laes, as a studio reporting within Aristocrat’s Plarium business. Given talent opportunities in the region, Aristocrat has established a further Helsinkibased studio, Northern Stars. Northern Stars will focus on the emerging hybrid casual genre under the world-class game development and studio leaders, Minwoo Lee (ex EA, Rovio, Ubisoft) and Antti Nikander (ex Rovio). Minwoo and Antti bring a wealth of experience to the Group, which will help us grow Aristocrat’s

presence in Finland and further expand our game development capabilities. Aristocrat has also acquired Playsoft, the Gdańsk (Poland) based mobile gaming studio specialising in the social casino genre. Playsoft has a 13+ year track record of developing more than 50 successful game titles for third party partners. Playsoft will operate within the Product Madness business, and continue to be led by its impressive founders Nicolas Bensignor and Pierre Olivier Monteil. The studio will help accelerate Product Madness’s pipeline and deliver innovation, while establishing a strong footprint for the company in another strategic European location.

park now serves as a recreational place for local residents to linger, relax, and have fun. During the construction period, BBIN not only donated ¥7.28 million for the purchase, transportation, and installation of playground facilities, but also invited local residents to vote for the recreational equipment in the playground, deepening the residents’ participation in the construction process. The PoH project is a perfect example of

BBIN’s endeavors to make the world a better place to live. It helps the local residents of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami return to their normal lives but also deepens the engagement to the local community. The goodwill and actions will continue in the future projects, in a hope that BBIN’s collaborations with charity organizations around the world will spread wider and benefit more people.


Return and reconnect


s live events around the world make a gradual comeback, BBIN, the leading igaming software supplier in Asia, has been actively preparing for the major events in the coming year of 2022, excited to showcase new ideas and innovations in ICE 2022 and other following events. It has been almost two years since the whole world and the iGaming industry was thrust into the mode of digital and remote communication. BBIN expects that reviving live events will bring back the deeper connection and exchange that was missing in the digital transmission of virtual exhibitions and online meetings, which has great significance for every one of us. In addition to planning for the live events and reconnecting with worldwide partners, BBIN has never ceased to care for disadvantaged groups who are heavily affected by natural catastrophes and disasters. Having planted a charitable seed in 2020, BBIN is happy to announce that its collaboration with Japan’s Playground of Hope (POH) has achieved a fruitful result after one-year of efforts and cultivation. The Gaming Beat Charity (TGB Charity), BBIN’s charity brand, collaborated with the Japanese charity organization PoH in July 2020 to build a playground in the Matsuzaki-Ozaki Disaster Prevention Park in Kesennuma City, where pre-tsunami homes used to stand. With the construction completed in April 2021, the

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


Expanding land-based reach


o provide longer player lifetime and higher stakes, the Live Roulette game has been released in the Cashier Client application. The desktop application Betshop Client is intended for cashiers to serve players, accepting and paying bets, registering clients, making deposit and withdrawal requests for online players, and more. In addition to Keno and Bet-on Poker, the system is now offering Roulette with a quick and well-made bet placement process. BetConstruct has done its best to develop certain algorithms to integrate all the markets of the game in the Betshop, opening up wide opportunities for land-based operators. As for the interface, it allows for live streaming of the actual game played at BetConstruct’s Live studio with the dealer. This attracts more betshop players via showing the game and helps operators accept more bets via a single tool. Anonymous bets and secure data, as well as the high-

speed bet placement capability fuel players’ interest and engagement, hence expanding operators’ businesses. Live Roulette is a perfect solution for the

Land Based partners, tailored to their specific desires. The game gives them an opportunity to gain the maximum benefit while increasing their customer base and expanding their reach.


Live‌ ‌in‌ ‌22‌ ‌states‌ ‌and‌ ‌ready‌ ‌for‌ ‌G2E‌ ‌Vegas‌ ‌


e’re excited to be exhibiting once again at G2E Vegas, October 5-7 2021, at Booth #2413. Our experienced team attending the show includes our Managing Director for the region Nick Nally and Sales Directors Jorge Morales, Graeme Price and Chad Ives alongside a number of colleagues who are eager to meet with customers, partners and prospects face-to-face. It’s been an exceptionally busy period for Continent 8 in the region; we are now live in 22 states with more sites set to launch this year, with a first-to-market strategy to enable customers to capitalise on the fastgrowing market. In the US we offer a range of service options including private cloud which includes compute, storage and network services which we make available on a dedicated and managed infrastructure platform. We can also support AWS Outpost deployment, bringing customers AWS Services in a dedicated 42U rack which is managed via the AWS UI and tools. In New Jersey, dubbed the sports betting capital of the world, we offer a regulatory approved public cloud, enabling compute, network and storage as a service on a shared platform with dedicated connectivity for regulatory monitoring

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021

as well as in-state and out of state public internet and private MPLS services. Our US sites are connected on one secure network, which spans 70+ locations globally. This includes our increasing presence in the LatAm market which began with the launch of our cloud offering in Colombia in 2020. In the past 12 months we have also enhanced our product portfolio of Connect,

Manage and Secure. In particular, our security solutions continue to develop to reflect the ever-changing cyber security landscape, and we have recently launched our Managed Threat Prevention, Detection & Response offering; a complete end-to-end proactive threat protection solution combining advanced SIEM/MDR/ EDR/SOAR/Machine Learning technologies with highly-skilled 24/7 SOC resources.


PIGO opportunities in the Philippines


n Q1 2021, we saw the land-based markets in Southeast Asia begin to recover as gaming business activities and travel resumed in the region, says Jeffrey Fong, BMM’s vice president for business development in Asia. The recent spike in COVID cases in some countries is likely to slow the recovery, but we continue to see the increase in Asian market project activities from suppliers and operators in both iGaming and land-based markets. It shows how much positive sentiment there is towards returning to a new normal level of living and entertainment across the region in 2021. BMM sees new opportunities emerging from the Philippines’ initiatives to allow domestic online gambling through so-called PIGO licenses. BMM in Asia is the leading gaming test lab to test and certify IP blocking, online betting platforms and games, and live slot solutions for PIGOs, POGOs, eSabong operators, and

manufacturers. We certify those products more than any other test lab in the region. “In addition, we continue to see growing demand for compliance consulting and certification testing in iGaming as an increasing number of Asian content providers and operators are expanding to regulated markets like the U.S., Europe and South Africa,” Fong said. BMM clearly has an unmatched technical understanding of the region. We are the go-to test lab in Asia, providing compliance consultation, testing, and certification services for online and land-based customers. “We see increasing opportunity in the Philippines through the opening of its online gaming for PIGOs and eCafe operators. It’s been the primary focus for local operators, manufacturers, and gaming service providers in the Asian markets.” The recent push to accelerate the approval process on online betting applications by PAGCOR

has further attracted casino operators, service providers, and manufacturers to this opportunity. We have recently certified a handful of gaming platforms, Live & Electronic games, under this new online gaming regulatory framework.


Optimizing data integration


ith Dallmeier’s open software platform “HEMISPHERE”, third-party casino and security systems are consistently integrated with the objective of optimising data integration. Integration which is aligned exactly with the application required in each case efficiently filters, sorts, and localises data from other software infrastructures and merges it from the various sources in a HEMISPHERE system. This approach enables very close integration of systems like access control, dealing shoe, RFID reader, slot machine, money counter or POS (Point of Sale). The integration takes place via the “HEMISPHERE Interface Modules”. These modules offer a wide variety of plugins which enable further processing of statuses and event messages originating from the connected systems and control commands in the other direction. They include plugins for standardised protocols in the realms of Point of Sale (POS) (e.g., Agilysys InfoGenesis, Micros 9700 / Simphony, Shiji POS System) and Note Counter (e.g., Glory, Giesecke & Devrient). Regarding slot machines, for example, Bally ACSC and IGT ADI / ABS / Advantage can be integrated as well as RFID readers (e.g.,

GPI CIS (2.x / Magellan Technology) and GPI CIS (3.x / SMART Technology)). In the area of access control systems, Cardax FT, CEM, DSX Eventcast, Lenel OnGuard, and Maxxess Axxes / eFusion are already fully integrated in Dallmeier HEMISPHERE®. Dealing shoe integrations are available on request. Therefore, it no longer matters how fast security or gaming operators can fast-forward

or rewind in a video management system if the events of the integrated systems are linked to the corresponding camera images. Now it is possible to simply search for the events on a timeline in the Video Management System and perform searches many times faster, for example. The advantages to customers range from more rapid response times to optimised security and business processes.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


Innovation in sports betting


elasport is the iGaming and sports betting solutions provider that will set its new directives well in motion to cater for the shifting needs of the industry. Diversifying and leading

the way in sports betting and casino solution innovation has been a staple for Delasport and the white label giant is poised to set new standards of excellence within the industry.


Setting deals in motion


e’re delighted to tell you that the next show we’ll be attending is the SBC Summit in Barcelona. We recently sent a small team to the GAT expo in Colombia and they were struck by how happy the attendees were to be participating in a face-to-face show and we fully expect that to be one of the takeaways from Barcelona. As well as being a welcome sociable experience, SBC Summit Barcelona will also deliver real business benefits, according to Digitain’s Chief Business Officer Simon Westbury. He describes exhibitions, such as the

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021

SBC Summit as “intrinsic” to the sales process and suggests that all parts of the iGaming platform and content provider’s commercial team will welcome their return. “In-person events are key for the account management team, as they get to meet up with existing partners face-to-face, get feedback on our performance over a coffee and to discuss any issues or future opportunities,” said Westbury. “For the sales team, they get to develop their network, demonstrate our great range of igaming products with interested parties and, hopefully, set a few deals in motion.”

“The SBC Summit Barcelona will be the first trade show that new members of the Digitain sales team will be attending, so it is exciting for me to see how the new team members progress from working solely in a digital world. It’s important for them to build their network, as so much of sales is about long-term relationships and developing trust.” In summary, we are excited to be attending the SBC Summit in Barcelona - our sales teams have performed well over the last 18 months, growing our partner network – but nothing beats meeting in – person.


Mexican party to retain online players


ith land-based casinos and retail betting outlets reopening, it is important for the casino sector to retain customers after a period away. We are aware that during lockdown players opted to play online and that the reintroduction of land-based operations might affect the retention prospects of our vertical. But with the developments made to online games, we’re in pole position to retain newlymigrated land-based punters. What better way to welcome back players with more engaging content! That’s why we’ve launched two stunning new titles in Calaveras Explosivas and Mystic Fortune Deluxe. The recently launched Calaveras Explosivas invites players to show-off their dancing skills and head down to the town square for an enthralling Mexican-themed adventure. Inspired by the popular Mexican national holiday, Dia de Muertos, the title features eyecatching and crisp Latin-American graphics as well as a thematic mariachi soundtrack. With the game taking influence from Mexico’s vibrant culture, we feel it will be a strong hit with players based in the Latin American region. However, with up to 30 symbols and impressive multipliers the title will find no difficulty in attracting players from across the world. To accompany the release and return of

players, we’ve also released Mystic Fortune Deluxe. An exciting slot that combines an enchanting theme with superb multiplayer combinations. This latest title also offers players the chance to win up to 288 Free Games, if they can combine money symbols that come in the form

of a Lucky Lotus symbol. The magnificently detailed 5x4 slot also gives players the chance to win big and get free spins. This title allows Habanero to introduce players to something new as our industry returns to normal at long last.

the world once again with new technologies designed to enhance the guest experience, boost security, and increase efficiencies across the casino floor and in the count room.” To enhance the guest experience, we will be showing our innovative Digital Signage Solutions that are as flexible as the spaces they illuminate and as varied as the content they display. Our FUZION system solutions give players more choices and operators greater ability to reach guests through FUZION’s associated technologies, including ICB, the Peripheral Network Adapter (PNA), NFC Mobile I/O, iPROMO, and iTITO. JCM’s partnership with CountR and their TITA system also enables high-speed cash processing, TITO transactions, and debit/POS transactions at live table games, allowing their guests to play their favorite table games their way. When it comes to boosting security, operators worldwide trust JCM bill validators, such as

iVIZION, to be their first line of defense against counterfeiters and cheats. When connected to iVIZION, our FUZION technology boosts security with real-time digital imaging, increased surveillance capabilities, better management of support resources and financial asset tracking, and trusted Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for secure contactless transactions. Through our latest partnership with Cash Processing Solutions (CPS), CPS products dramatically increase efficiencies in the count room with flexible and modular count-sort solutions, including the 7000i, X Range, and V Series and ECM enterprise-wide cash management software. Additionally, JCM’s new ICB ASAP, a network of four industrial-grade robots and industrystandard automation devices, streamlines the count room, enhances productivity, reduces human contact, boosts security, improves throughput, and increases reliability.


Next stop Vegas


ave Kubajak, JCM’s senior vice president of sales, marketing and operations, says the company has been grateful to once again gather with customers in person this summer, first NIGA then OIGA, and now G2E Las Vegas is our next stop. “We are excited because at G2E we will wow

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


Weighing the travel possibilities


hich show will we attend in the near future? This is the ultimate question. Even more so nowwe are tasked with handling the challenges of the “new normal,” with social distancing and an economic scenario like none we have previously experienced. Whether we attend in-person events in the not-too-distant future or the wave of digital and

online events currently? I am ready and willing to attend Live events but whether I am able is still unknown. After 18 months of lockdown here in Manila I have Zoom fatigue. As a company we have grown during the lockdown period and almost doubled our workforce. We have received an online sport betting license with which we are now live and

we have been awarded a license for e-Sabong with which we will go live on September 7. Like Jade, I believe other companies have also used this period to recreate and develop new products and services, which you need to touch and feel and learn from those who developed them. But my main reason for attending live events is to come together with friends and network with new people and sometimes even have a beer. Do I feel comfortable going to a live event? I’m not completely comfortable yet, I have to trust the vaccine and the event organization that I will be safe. Now the remaining question is, am I able to attend? I will be fully vaccinated so I can tick that box, but flights from Manila are limited and countries also have their own restrictions. Can I return home after the event, while the Delta Variant might cause harder lockdowns and restrictions. Is it worth coming back to 10 days in a quarantine hotel for a 3 day event? I would very much like to be at G2E Vegas but at this stage, I might only be able to decide a few days before the event. For future events long term planning is still unknown.


Pinnacle Solution ready for the new normal


t may have been quiet for Pinnacle Solution and the wider industry on the events front over the last year, but behind the scenes our teams have been busier than ever adapting and improving our product offering so we can continue servicing our clients with the best sportsbook solutions. 18 months has passed since ICE 2020, and in that time, we’ve been listening intently to the wishes of our current and prospective clients in order to develop the right sportsbook tools and content to deliver the most value to partners. The pandemic has fast-tracked esports into the spotlight, while risk management has become more of a priority in recent months as cost pressures continue to rise. We have the tools for operators to become successful esports brands, while our risk management processes continue to set the industry benchmark. And we’ll be demonstrating our trading and risk management expertise, as well as our updated esports product, at SBC Summit Barcelona for the first time in September. Our esports-specific betting view, named

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021

the Esports View, will be showcased for the first time at an event at the SBC Summit. A game-changer for operators, this layout has been designed for esports bettors by our team of esports experts. No longer does esports sit under one tab hidden among a long list of sports. It now has a hub of its own, with an aesthetic to match the community demands. Easily

integrated in a matter of weeks with the best esports content on the market, the Esports View can be the point of difference for sportsbooks looking to expand their esports footprint. Following SBC Summit Barcelona, Pinnacle Solution will be back in attendance at the biggest events in 2022, kicking off with ICE London, and many more events to be confirmed soon.


Winning big on bingo


ragmatic Play, a leading content provider to the gaming industry, applauds one lucky player who won over €50,000 in the progressive Bingo jackpot at Princess Casino.

The lucky player is the biggest ever jackpot winner on Pragmatic Play’s Bingo network, with the user landing an impressive €50,811.57 just weeks after the supplier’s Bingo products went

live on Princess Casino’s platform. The huge sum marks the latest colossal win on Pragmatic Play’s Bingo network, which has gone from strength to strength as it continues to gain traction throughout the iGaming industry, with the provider recently celebrating the inaugural National Bingo Day. Claire McDaid, Vice President of Bingo Operations at Pragmatic Play, said: “We are so pleased to hear about this win! The Jackpot Room does exactly as you would expect, offering big non-stop progressive jackpots and huge game pots totalling well over €300k a month in guaranteed prizes alone. “This win is truly spectacular for the player and we extend our warmest congratulations to them, and hope they enjoy their winnings.” Pragmatic Play currently produces up to five new slot titles a month, while also delivering Live Casino and Bingo games as part of its multi-product portfolio, available through one single API.

we haven’t been working away behind the scenes, creating even more epic games and coming up with new ways to show them off. It’s no secret that we love an event. We get to exhibit our upcoming games and latest

innovations in our products and services (we’re looking at you OMNY). And we’ve been doing just that year after year with Play’n SHOW. From London to Malta, this event was the highlight of the year. But in 2020, this was not to be. Like with all things, there is a workaround. Around the world, the meeting room became the meeting Zoom, and with that Play’n SHOW went virtual. Everything that you would expect from our Play’n SHOW event was delivered digitally, showing that uncertain times weren’t a chance for us to sit on our laurels, but times to innovate. Now that the rules are a little clearer and things are heading back to normal(ish), we’ve got plenty of events on the horizon, and one we’re particularly excited for is SiGMA where we’ll exhibit our latest games and products. Although we’ve had a blast coming up with new ways to show off our content in these weird times, we’re excited to get to see everyone face-to-face at SiGMA. If the past couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that we’re resilient to change, we have the ability to adapt, and these are only a couple of reasons as to why the industry trusts us and we’re the best gaming entertainment supplier there is.


Back? We never left


ver the past couple of years, in-person events have had to take a back seat. Ever-changing rules and regulations have made it a mission (impossible) to plan upcoming events. But that doesn’t mean that

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


Powering a cashless gaming experience


cientific Games has always been committed to innovation, but it is now more critical than ever for solutions that help gaming properties address and adapt to the new normal. Scientific Games’ cashless gaming system solution enables gaming operators to deliver a new, yet fun and engaging gaming experience for their players while keeping them safe. This advanced technology sets a new standard for the industry and is available for gaming properties now. Unified Wallet is Scientific Games’ awardwinning cashless solution, listed in Casino Journal’s

Top 20 Most Innovative Gaming Technology of 2020. Scientific Games forward-thinkers have been innovating in the cashless space since 2006, way before the COVID-19 pandemic, realizing that the world will eventually need a cashless payment solution in gaming. Unified Wallet powers a cashless gaming experience by giving players the power to instantly access funds to play their favorite slots and tables or to shop at non-gaming retail outlets through an application on their personal mobile device. Taking a mobile-first application approach, cashless


Dragons Foo hits the jackpot in Asia


EGA SAMMY CREATION INC. has launched a new Chinese dragon-themed slot game “Dragons Foo” with a four level Jackpot in the Asian market. Dragons Foo offers a unique “Dice Wild feature” that provides the chance to add up to 12 Wild symbols on the reels. Two Dice symbols appear on reel 1 and 5 that trigger the feature. The dice will roll and random positions on the reels then change to a Wild symbol according to the numbers shown on the dice. The game also gives players the ability to choose their volatility level for the free games. When 3 scatter symbols appear on the reels the “Dragon Bonus feature” is triggered. Players can select their desired combination

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021

of Free games and Dragon symbols that are replaced with Wild symbols, or they can select the “Dragon Wheel”, where each number will be selected by a two-tier wheel randomly. When players select 4 Free games with 4 colors of Dragons symbols, they will be excited by many Wild symbols appearing on the reels during free games. In addition, the combined effect of the Dice Wild feature and Dragon Bonus feature can lead to a big win with a full screen of Wild symbols! This innovative game brings an elevated excitement and new dimension of anticipation with Wild symbol to players. It will cater to all types of players in Asian market with the high volatility math and easy-to-understand game rules.

solutions are not only convenient for guests but are also cost effective for casino operators. Gaming operators can still get all the benefits of going cashless without going cardless. Unified Wallet will also work with existing player cards where guests can access their funds directly from the iVIEW. Unified Wallet helps to reduce maintenance costs for EGM peripherals including bill validators and dispensers, TITO printers and card readers, and also reduces lines and time spent at the ATM. The mobile application increases player engagement and loyalty, and provides data insights on player spend for more effective marketing. Players will also benefit from using Unified Wallet with easy registration and the ability to enroll for cashless gaming using the mobile application or an existing player card. Players can fund their wallets from linked bank accounts or digital credit/debit cards, eliminating the hassle of standing in a queue at the ATM. Players can experience real-time wagering at slots and table games safely, without handling cash or going to the cage or kiosk to redeem chips and tickets. Options for fund transfers can be done using CAGE or through the property’s TITO kiosk, or through the operator’s payment provider or gateway of choice. Unified Wallet does not lock you down to any specific payment provider or gateway. Operators can choose to use the existing credit and collection features as part of SG’s CMS system, or use their own line of credit provider.


Product diversification and refined gaming experience


A Gaming, one of the leading suppliers of the industry, launched Speed Baccarat at its Euro Hall earlier this quarter. Speed Baccarat shares the same set of game rules as its traditional counterpart. However, it features a shorter countdown time, reducing from 30 seconds in the traditional version to just 20 seconds!

Two tables at SA Euro are now operating Speed Baccarat. The product is designed for players who are looking for fast-paced and exciting games. Operators can offer this variation to players who love speed. Other than diversifying its products, SA Gaming has been continuously improving

its lobby and UI in order to offer great user experience to operators and players. Now, players can place chips and change betting options more easily. There is also an enhanced seamless user experience, allowing players to enjoy games with interruption reduced to a minimum in the event of network instabilities. SA Gaming is making sure that it has the best gaming environment in the market available to the operators and their players. And SA Gaming’s innovation does not stop here. Developers and product managers of SA Gaming have been working out a new game to be added to the lobby. Pok Deng, a popular card game in Southeast Asia, is coming to SA Gaming soon. Pok Deng is a card game where Player and Banker compare the hand values of their two cards and the one closer to 9 points wins. There are some special patterns that double the odds when either side wins with these patterns, including pairs, cards of the same suit, and other special combinations. The introduction of Pok Deng is SA Gaming’s response to the fast-growing local market. As a localised product, SA Gaming is confident that it is bringing great opportunities to the operators.

the new generation of bettors. The software development company Advabet is constantly expanding its offering in various betting verticals. With UltraPlay’s esports betting iFrame, Advabet will share a lot of entertainment with its customers and their end-users. Through UltraPlay’s seamless plug-in iFrame solution, Advabet gets a comprehensive esports targeted product that allows them to enter esports betting with ease. Next-generation platform provider Pronet

Gaming has already integrated UltraPlay’s esports betting product. Now Pronet Gaming has more than 34 esports titles, with over 6,000 pre-match and 5,500 live events, and a selection of more than 200 markets to offer to its clients. With the three recently launched esports betting iFrames, UltraPlay is experiencing a growing interest in its multi-awarded product. These three partnerships open new opportunities ahead for UltraPlay to reach new markets and enhance players’ experience on the betting sites.


Live with new partners


ltraPlay has announced that three of its recently signed partnerships have gone live. The company’s eSports betting iFrame was successfully launched on Winbet, Advabet and Pronet Gaming. UltraPlay’s iFrame Betting API equips sportsbooks with a unique sports and esports betting product that is fully hosted and managed by the company’s team of experienced professionals. UltraPlay offers its esports betting iFrame to Winbet - a licensed gambling operator and an established leader among Bulgarian online bookmakers. Since 2016, Winbet has offered a safe and reliable entertaining environment with multiple gaming options, a rich selection of casino products, and sports betting at attractive odds. Together with UltraPlay, Winbet is offering in Bulgaria the widest coverage of esports, prematch and live odds to all fans and enthusiasts of the competitive gaming scene. Winbet also has a dedicated section for esports and is one of the few sportsbooks on the Bulgarian market to offer extensive esports coverage and to engage

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


SEPTEMBER IAGR BOSTON CONFERENCE 12-17 September 2021 Boston Marriott Copley Place SIGMA AMERICAS VIRTUAL EXPO 13-14 September 2021 Virtual

GLOBAL GAMING EXPO 4-7 October 2021 Sands Expo, Las Vegas SBC SUMMIT CIS 13-14 October 2021 Parkovy Kyiv International Convention Center, Ukraine


SBC SUMMIT BARCELONA 21-24 September 2021 Fira Barcelona Montjuïc

G2E ASIA 9-11 November 2021 The Venetian Macau Cotai Expo

UKRANIAN GAMING WEEK 21-22 September, 2021 KyivExpoPlaza, Ukraine

BETTING ON SPORTS EUROPE 9-11 November 2021 Stamford Bridge London

IGB LIVE & IGB AFFILIATE AMSTERDAM 28 September - 01 October 2021 RAI Amsterdam, Netherlands

SIGMA EUROPE 16-18 November 2021 MFCC, Malta

OCTOBER CYRPUS GAMING SHOW 4-5 October 2021 Limassol, Cyprus

SBC SUMMIT NORTH AMERICA 30 Nov - 2 December 2021 Meadowlands Exposition Center, New Jersey

WORLD GAMING EXECUTIVE SUMMIT 6-8 December 2021 W Hotel, Bracelona ALL AMERICAN SPORTS BETTING SUMMIT 7-8 December 2021 New York, USA

2022 FEBRUARY ICE LONDON 1-3 February 2022 Excel London, UK

MARCH REGULATING THE GAME 7-11 March 2022 ICC Sydney, Australia ASEAN GAMING SUMMIT 22-23 March 2022 Shangri-La Hotel, Manila



Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


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AGB serves as a platform for multiple levels of information about the Asian gambling industry in the form of feature articles, latest news headlines, network-

AGB consists of a weekly eBrief reporting on recent regional news and developments in the Asian gambling industry. Articles are written by experts living and

ing events, directories of key authorities and players, bespoke research, introduction services, and access to experts who can answer your questions.

working in Asia and cover a range of legal, operational and market issues, offering in-depth analysis of the opportunities these developments provide for operators and those who work with them.



Our extensive network of regional advisors ensures that the intelligence you receive is real, topical, and based on fact. No other service gives you such comprehensive insights into the political, legislative and competitive developments affecting the markets in this region, and what they mean for you. Get your information from the horse's mouth, not from third parties

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AGB- Asia - Asia GamingBrief Brief| Trading | TradingasasBlue BlueSky Sky Venture- Reg#43675 - Reg#43675SO SO | AGB Gaming Venture | Asia 16/F China Law Building, 409 Av. da Praia Grande, Macau SAR | P.O. Box 1139

Gaming Briefings | September 2021


Sharon Singleton

Managing Editor, AGB

Surprise‌ ‌pockets‌ ‌ of‌ ‌vaccination‌ ‌hope‌ ‌ The gaming industry in Europe and the U.S. is gearing up for a busy schedule of live events in the next couple of months, although unfortunately Asia’s participation is likely to be limited.


hile these regions begin to open up, Sentosa. Both properties have had success in driving Asia has gone backwards, with many revenue from locals, embarking on staycation and countries seeing their worst spikes in other types of promotions. However, management concedes that revenue has Covid to date, prompting a new wave of lockdowns. Early success in handling the virus plateaued and further growth will need the tourists led to vaccine complacency in jurisdictions, such to come back. Another outlier is Cambodia. The country expects as Macau, Australia and New Zealand, which had availability but failed to mobilize their citizens. As to have reached herd immunity by the end of the year. a result, they lost a valuable window of opportunity However, even now it’s faring better than many of its to avoid further disruptions to lives and businesses more developed peers. As of the end of August, half of the population was fully vaccinated, with about 64 before the Delta wave took hold. Other developing nations, with large populations percent having received one dose, putting it second and sprawling geographies, have not yet been fortunate only to Singapore in the region. According to local operator enough to procure enough supply NagaCorp, the situation is even to provide mass protection. more impressive in the capital Most observers now don’t Phnom Penh. There the entire expect any significant resumption Most population is fully vaccinated, in international travel until next with the government beginning to year, with forecasts for recovery observers now provide booster shots for frontline for the casino industry pushed don’t expect workers. Phnom Penh is said to be back again. The scenario is very the most vaccinated capital in the different from the VIP-led V-shaped any significant world, according to advisory firm recovery that had been expected resumption in Mekong Strategic Partners. at the onset of the crisis. So far, that hasn’t helped Despite this, there are gliminternational travel NagaCorp, as it’s NagaWorld mers of hope, some of which may until next year. property has been shut down be surprising. since the beginning of March. It is Singapore, which started with a confident though that international zero tolerance policy for Covid, looks tourism to Cambodia will resume set to be the jurisdiction leading the way when it comes to opening its international from the fourth quarter and that there will be pent-up borders. After driving vaccination rates to more than demand to drive growth once the doors reopen. The Philippines, which has a much more challenging 80 percent of its population, it is now focusing more on living with the virus and monitoring the impact on task in rolling out vaccines to its more than 100 million the healthcare system, than on individual case counts. people, is also stepping up its efforts. The government As a result, it plans to begin opening borders to predicts it will reach herd immunity by February of low-risk countries from Sept. 8th for fully vaccinated next year. As a result, the gaming business will return travellers. It has split countries into four tiers, with to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, says Andrea Domingo, arrivals from those in Tier 1 only required to present a chair of regulator, the Philippine Amusement and negative nucleic acid test on arrival. These jurisdictions Gaming Corp. There is only one event on the calendar for Asia include most of Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, this year and that’s G2E Asia in Macau in November. Macau and New Zealand. While no one is expecting the floodgates to Although they have the ability to hold live events, with open, any return of international visitors will be a zero cases in the territory, it seems highly unlikely that major plus for Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World international travellers would be able to attend.

Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021


CONVENIENCE • SECURITY • LOYALTY • Offers an easy method to access funds using existing player cards from slot or table game for players who do not want to use a mobile app. • Secure fund transfer from player’s bank account to electronic wallet and supports multiple payment providers offering flexibility and consistency throughout the property for financial services. • Link cashless accounts and usage with loyalty programs, offers new insights into player behavior and help incentivize usage and loyalty.

Contact your SG Account Manager or email for more information

MACAU OFFICE | Phone: +853 2872 2539 | The look and feel of the games and their individual components and displays are trade dress of Scientific Games and its Subsidiaries. All ® notices signify marks registered in the United States. ™ and © 2021 Scientific Games Corp. and its Subsidiaries. All rights reserved. Scientific Games is committed to responsible gambling. Responsible gambling features are proactively developed to ensure the safety and security of players while using Scientific Games products. Asia Gaming Briefings | September 2021