Margaret Huang: Premium mass presents opportunities for ASEAN gaming

Margaret Huang: Premium mass presents opportunities for ASEAN gaming

In this interview with’s Stephanie Tower, Margaret Huang of Bloomberg Intelligence shares what Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries can learn from Macau’s VIP experience.

The Asia-Pacific region is getting a bit smaller for gambling operators. Several decades ago, one could only think of Macau as the best place to relax and gamble. Fast forward to 2018, players have lots of options to choose from in terms of where to play their favorite table games and slot machines.

As competition for VIP players heats up among gambling jurisdictions in Asia, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Margaret Huang suggested that gambling operators should strike the right balance between high-end and mass-market customers to stay ahead of their game.

Huang particularly emphasized the potential of premium mass as a revenue stream for brick-and-mortar facilities operating in Southeast Asia. She described premium mass as players who are awash with money and yet fall short of the category of VIP players. She said these premium mass players like to be pampered and be treated like VIPs.

“I think ASEAN present lots of opportunities. When you look at the VIP segment in Macau, obviously it is coming back. I think the other potential VIP segment for ASEAN is the premium mass as well. So, it is a combination of both,” Huang told “If you are seeing a steady flow coming in to Macau, another option for these high-end players is to come to, for example, Manila’s Entertainment City. There’s just as much as exciting entertainment, dining, large hotel rooms and facilities very much for high-end play that they are looking for and somewhere different to beyond what’s available in Macau.”

Understanding the Chinese market and Chinese spending habits would also help operators in ASEAN markets grow their business, according to Huang.

She said operators need to determine what Chinese players are looking for, what motivates them to take that vacation, to take that step in exploring beyond Hong Kong and Macau.

“The Chinese, if you look at overall, are top spenders when they go out. Even when you look at Macau as again, what we always reference as the gold standard for Chinese VIP players. Getting a portion of that business, could incrementally be growing the market here in the ASEAN region,” Huang explained.

Among Southeast Asian gambling jurisdictions, Huang said the Philippines is in the strongest position to capture the growing premium mass market through the development and construction of new integrated resorts.

“I think Cambodia has come up with Naga2 and you have some junket rooms coming onboard in the single property. But I think when we step back and look at the overall landscape, I think Manila has lot of prospects of growth here,” Huang said. “So I think, for that reason, we are very excited about this particular market and in fact, the developments that are made through the regulatory perspective is certainly encouraging as well, in terms of playing a more competitive environment and growing the market overall.”