With many of the top operators and game providers gathered at G2E Asia @ The Philippines, it was the prefect chance to get a few of them together and discuss the outlook of the industry in Asia. During the Gaming Executive Dialogue, Moderator Michael Zhu, SVP of International Operations Planning and Analysis of The Innovation Group lead the discussion between M. Hakan Dagtas, Chief Gaming Officer of The Travellers Group and Adrian Halpenny, SVP Australia & Asia of SG Gaming Asia.
Halpenny noted right off that he sees the future of the industry in better information. Using technology like Artificial Intelligence, facial recognition and big data centers, operations can get a better understanding of the players journey and use that information to better target their efforts.
Dagtas noted that the future is already apparent in Asia, and that’s a shift from a VIP heavy market to a bigger mass market. That’s certainly already happening in Macau, and other markets are starting to experience it as well.
Where the challenge comes is from regulators, Dagtas noted. In countries where the regulatory environment can change often, it can be frustrating to operators who want to invest to a specific strategy. Also, regulators can be sluggish to react to innovation and suit their rules to a changing environment.
The conversation then swung towards the growth the Philippines continues to see in its gambling industry. Dagtas noted he hopes to see another 5 years of solid growth in the country, which continues to see 20% year on year growth regularly. This bet looks well supported by booming tourism numbers and GDP growth.
Both Halpenny and Dagtas agreed though that the Chinese market is still far from fully tapped, as consumerism still hasn’t fully taken over in that country. With most of the population saving more than the western average and living far below their means, when the country is finally able to spur a consumer economy, there is a treasure trove of untapped wealth there.
And as Serbia has recently discovered, by allowing visa-free travel for Chinese citizens, an explosion of tourism will follow. Dagtas noted that Serbia saw just 5000 Chinese tourists per year in the early 2010s, a number which has now reached 100,000 per year. Halpenny agreed fully with this sentiment, also noting he doesn’t expect Chinese gambling spend to slow down whatsoever.