After Day one of the G2E Asia @ The Philippines had kicked off and everyone had a bit to eat, it was time to jump into a general overview of the region. The ASEAN Gaming Market overview, moderated by CEO of Inside Asian Gaming Andrew Whitaker Scott, took a look at some of the countries in South East Asia and what they have to fofer.
Marie Antonette B. Quioguy, lawyer at Remulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & de Los Angeles, began the panel by giving an overview on the Philippines. She note that generally speaking, the industry is seeing plenty of growth from its casinos and integrated resorts (IRs), but tremendous growth from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), which is expected to see revenue double in the next year.
That’s not without some concerns though. The continuing moratorium on casino and POGO licenses makes it impossible for operators to enter the market legally now. Increased scrutiny on Anti-Money Laundering also adds a burden. And of course, the continuing pressure from China to end the POGO industry, and from congressman to tax it at a higher rate, makes it a very risky market.
One audience member asked Quioguy what the true gross gaming revenue (GGR) of the POGO market. While she tried to evade the question to some degree, she admitted that it’s probably triple the reported number.
The next country covered was Vietnam, with Shaun McCamley, Founder and Managing Partner of Euro Pacific Asia Consulting delivering his thoughts. He spoke from plenty of personal experience that working with a Communist Politburo is not easy, as they are savvy politcians and want to renegotiate deals often. He also noted that as gambling is generally seen as a cultural evil, it takes plenty of relationship building and local partners to get anything done.
South Korea was the third country covered, and by no better expert than Nicholas Kim, Investment Director, Incheon Free Economy Zone Authority (IFEZ). He noted the country has complicated regulations due to multiple laws that could be applied to issuing a license. He also shared frustrating that South Korea hasn’t done more to build up its gambling industry, as Japan is already stealing all of the attention.
But the country has plenty of exciting attributes to offer. He noted that it has a much lower cost of entry than Japan, is closer to China overall, and might not be offering a high rate of return, but definitely a solid one.
But so long as Japan is getting most of the headlines, Kim noted he doesn’t expect much to change.
Finally, with the little time left, McCamley was given a minute to share his thoughts on Laos. He noted that Laos is a difficult market to break into, as some high level officials may make promises they can’t keep. Operations have been built, opened up, and shut down the next day for not acquiring the correct approvals.
Knowing the right people is critical. He noted that the owner of the largest casino being constructed right now is married to the President’s daughter, which goes a long way.