It is possible that I might die. Three full days and four full nights in a row of conference filming, networking, dining, and partying plus the worst jetlag ever has proven to be one tough pill to swallow. It was all well worth it though, and I think it’s safe to say that Beacon Events did a great job and the iGaming Asia Congress actually exceeded all of our expectations.
With the recent issue of the statement from the Chinese government claiming that they will be cracking down on igaming operators coupled with the existing igaming grey area in the region, many were a bit nervous to attend and some expected the turnout to be greatly reduced. All things considered, this conference was pretty well attended, full of the right people, and provided just the right amount of face time with the right people. As I have learned over the past few days, the importance of trust and relationships is extremely important in the Asian market, so many left this conference confident that their meetings were top quality and that trust was being built.
Naturally with all the meetings, sessions and round tables comes along the good fun, cultural experiences, and some serious boozin’. Throughout my week in Macau I had a great time during the day on the conference floor, I had some fantastic meals with some even more fantastic people, I had some big nights out, and I learned a lot about the culture and how incredibly different it is than mine.
The Conference Floor
Aside from the routine interviewing and networking that I do for most of the day, the iGaming Asia Congress provided some other options for entertainment while roaming around the conference floor. First of all, Beacon Events did a fabulous job of keeping the place full of drinks, refreshments, and excellent food, something that all attendees require and appreciate. Second of all, there were two Mahjong experts teaching the game at the Mahjong Logic booth, the CalvinAyre.com team’s favorite destination for learning, laughing, and time killing. Next, there were so many new faces! Usually I waltz into a conference knowing about 95% of the people in attendance, but not this time. It was enjoyable and refreshing to brush up on those networking skills of mine as I exchanged cards with many new people and learned about igaming companies I had never heard of.
Great Meals with Great People
It is always hard to balance my time between work responsibilities and dinners with business contacts and industry friends. This time around I decided to make the time for these enjoyable moments, and each night proved to be special and unique, starting with sushi and saki in the City of Dreams with my good friend Hilly. The next night included a random collection of people for dinner with only one thing in common- me- and proved to be a complete success. We had Aaron from Bodog88, Mark and Ian from Betgenius, Mathias from MoneyBookers, and the two token Frenchies, lawyers Thibault and Etienne, and about 19 bottles of red wine. The following evening I was unable to grab a bite before filming at the Shanghai Nights party and the departure for Bellini Bar, so Anders of Mahjong Logic snuck out of Bellini and brought me back the best club sandwich and fries I have ever tasted in my life. My final meal in Macau was spent at a Michelin rated Portuguese restaurant with Charles and Bruno, during which we discussed business for about five minutes and then moved on to more exciting topics such as ancient Calvin stories and our thoughts on human relationships, childbearing and marriage.
Parties, Parties and More Parties
Lions Bar, Bellini Bar, and a collection of clubs with names that included letters and numbers were the most popular nightlife choices for conference attendees. Well, that and the “saunas” and “massage parlors”, both full of women but not really “appropriate” for women from the outside, such as myself, to visit. My personal favorite destination was MP3, a tiny little club featuring red booths, tables loaded with dice for Chinese drinking games, one hooker per male patron, one bottle of vodka for shots during those drinking games, and a centrally located stripper pole with dancers for our viewing pleasure.
Lets start with the hookers. Every single bar was loaded with nice looking Asian ladies for sale, but unless you really pay attention, it’s possible that you would not pick up on these things. Well, that is until the girls come up to the men you are with and proceed to drape themselves all over them. Also, can we talk about the bands with seven people? When is the last time you saw a seven person band at the bar? When is the last time you saw a sexy Columbian chick with a full on fro lead singing in the seven person band at the bar? I also found it bizarre that many tables at the bars were complete with dice and cups to use for Chinese drinking games. Some guys use whiskey, some guys use beer, and some guys even use shots of vodka, but the result is always the same…passing time, having fun, and getting really, really, really drunk. Looks like getting drunk is a global thing my friends, it just depends on how you go about doing it!
Stay tuned for videos and pictures from the event and do not miss the SINdex review, pics and DAF awards from the parties!