Optimism was the general mood of the attendees at the latest G2E Asia show held in Macau. In March, the Chinese government launched an aggressive attack on online gambling. Their initial focus was to shut down payment processing before targeting media companies that accept gambling ads. This cooled the growth of gaming in China temporarily but most companies are already starting to find ways around the payment challenges.
Hot Topic: Payments
The key topic discussed by all attendees was payments –- both for China and other territories. Several companies have developed methods to deal with the new landscape in China. The new options are slightly more expensive then previous solutions but these costs will decrease over time.
Slots, Slots, Slots!
Online gambling (iGaming) is just a small part of G2E. More traditional, “brick n’ mortar” gambling is the main focus of the convention. The exhibition floor was packed with innovative gambling machines designed for casinos. This was a great chance for online gambling executives to experiment with new gambling concepts and discuss what would and wouldn’t work online.
The rapid growth in popularity of slot machines by Asian gamblers is fueling impressive innovation by slot machine manufacturers. Branded slots continue to be the big theme. The new American Idol slot caught the attention of many people –- we think the bonus round is a little monotonous and would bore people online, but the concept was good.
RNG software suppliers are continuing to localize their products and sell to Asian gambling operators. As Asian punters gain trust in online gambling companies their migration to RNG style games is inevitable.
Mobile betting was a hot topic at the conference. With the release of the iPad and new iPhone, mobile betting will only grow in popularity. These devices and other new mobile phones have added more intelligent connectivity management. Mobile strategy was discussed at length — several people think this will be the tipping point for RNG games and possibly poker in Asia.
Mahjong and poker continue to be explored but there is no evidence of operators having overwhelming commercial success with either. Both products have collusion issues and yield lower value per player numbers that casino games. The younger ‘social network generation’ will eventually demand peer to peer (p2p) gambling games so many companies are starting to prepare for this now by adding p2p content.
As usual, much of the networking was done in the bars. Overall the ‘bar scene’ in Macau is underwhelming. Spas were the main draw — CFO’s all over the globe will be wondering how their business development managers managed to spend RMB 10,000 at a ‘spa’.
Several people enjoyed dinner at The Kitchen -– one of the top restaurants in Macau. They have the largest wine list in Macau and possibly in all of Asia. The wine ‘binder’ is over 5 inches thick! In a nice blend of old and new, they have migrated the wine list to an iPad which makes searching for the perfect wine much more manageable.
Conference Business Model
The G2E organizers had several speakers lined up and an exhibition floor. Both were underwhelming. Most speakers were too nervous to provide any real information and very few Asian companies will pay to exhibit. The conference was still a success as it brought together many key players in Asia gaming, but very few people actually entered the conference floor. It’s clear the western style conference doesn’t work in Asia. One suggestion might be to hire a panel of experts from a cross section of disciplines –- technology, banking, law, marketing, social media, etc. Hire top people and pay them very well to speak and be available for consulting sessions.