Hold or Fold - Inside Asian Gaming by pengxuebo

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									        April 2009 • MOP 30 • ISSN 2070-7681




 Hold or Fold?
Poker brand building in Macau

             LVS: Back to the Future
      Singing the Lion City’s Praises
                     WMS: Reel Estate
                     Bally: Quick Time
                         Tonic for Elixir
                         IGT: Glass Act

     In Focus:   Manila Envelope
INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
                             CONTENTS
                                     April 2009

                               Hold or Fold?
                         7   Hold or Fold?
                     7   16 Back to the Future

                         18 Singing the Lion City’s Praises

                         21 Reel Estate

                         23 Manila Envelope
41                       30 Sporting Chance

                         32 Quick Time

                         36 Loyalty – The Big Picture

                         38 Tonic for Elixir

                         41 Glass Act

                         44 Regional Briefs

                         46 International Briefs

                         48 Events Calendar




                                                           23
     Kurt Quartier
                                  April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING
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Editorial


                                         Profit in the Wilderness
                                              Dr Stanley Ho may take issue with journalists for reporting that his personal wealth has fallen during
                                         the global financial crisis, but the Macau casino company he chairs is unequivocally still turning a profit—
                                         albeit a modest one.
                                              In fact, following the report of Wynn Resorts’ loss for Q4 2008 on the back of capital expenditure on
                                         Encore Las Vegas and Encore Macau, it leaves SJM Holdings Ltd as the only one of Macau’s gaming licence
                                         holders to be currently returning money to shareholders in the form of dividend.
                                              SJM, which held a 40-year monopoly on casino gaming in Macau until liberalisation of the market in
                                         2002, posted net profit of HK$796.1 million for 2008, down 48.1% year on year. The decline accelerated in
                                         the second half, when net profit was down 77.6%.
Dr Stanley Ho                                 The Hong Kong-listed casino operator said it was proposing a final dividend per share of HK$0.06 for
                                         2008. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation fell to HK$1.6 billion, down 22.4%
                                         from a year earlier. The company’s gaming revenue fell 12.9% to HK$27.99 billion during 2008, largely as
                Publisher                a result of a slowdown in sales of VIP chips in the second half of 2008.
              Kareem Jalal                    SJM blamed the fall in gaming revenue on credit market conditions affecting the VIP gaming
                                         promotion business. “These factors reduced VIP chips purchases and consequently the revenues derived
               Director                  from VIP gaming operations. In addition, the hold rate or house-win percentage in VIP gaming operations
         João Costeira Varela
                                         declined slightly in 2008 from the previous year.”
                                              The company added that other factors affecting the profit margin were more competitive conditions
                Editor
            Michael Grimes               in the VIP market resulting in higher commission rates due to junket operators and aggregators and the
                                         start-up costs of SJM’s Ponte 16 and Grand Lisboa Hotel operations, along with increased depreciation
  Business Development Manager           and interest costs related to both projects.
            Matt Phillips
                                         Mass market rising in the mix
         Operations Manager                   Last year, VIP baccarat contributed 67.8% of total gaming revenue across all of Macau, but only
           José Abecasis                 57.1% at SJM, where VIP revenue was cannibalised by other operators offering steeply higher discounts
                                         to junket operators bringing VIP players to Macau’s casinos.
              Contributors
                                              SJM’s mass market revenue, however, continued to grow in 2008, and made up 40% of the group’s
      Desmond Lam Steve Karoul
                                         gaming revenue in the year, compared with 33% in 2007.
   I. Nelson Rose, Richard Marcus
      Shenée Tuck, James J. Hodl              SJM has seen its VIP table capacity drastically reduced as it has consolidated its VIP rooms into the
         Andrew MacDonald                Grand Lisboa property. Total room inventory has gone from 75 in 2007 to 40 last year while the number
         William R. Eadington            of tables has also fallen to 180 from 305. The company said the move had been made “in order to improve
                                         the efficiency” of the VIP operations. It said that average net win per day rose slightly to HK$186,470 from
           Graphic Designer              HK$181,012.
             Brenda Chao                      Mass-market revenue rose 3.6% to HK$11.1 billion from HK$10.7 billion. SJM saw its total of mass-
                                         market tables rise to 1,154 from 1,107, largely due to an increase at both the Grand Lisboa and at its
              Photography                new Ponte 16 property. Revenue from slots rose 11.9% to HK$958.7 million with the total number of slot
                  Ike
                                         machines rising to 3,867 from 3,702. SJM operates slots at 11 of its casinos and in its four slot halls.
                                              The flagship Casino Grand Lisboa continued to exceed SJM’s expectations, with revenue up 80% to
        Inside Asian Gaming
            is published by              HK$8,605 million and EBITDA up 41% to HK$1,404 million during the year.
     Must Read Publications Ltd               The company revealed that Casino Ponte 16, which opened in Macau’s historic inner harbour
  Suite 1907, AIA Tower, 215A-301        area in February last year, had not produced enough revenue to cover start-up and operating costs.
 Av. Comercial de Macau - Macau          However, SJM said it will introduce VIP gaming operations later this year in an effort to ramp up
         Tel: (853) 6646 0795            Ponte 16’s performance.
                                              Other operational highlights of 2008 noted by SJM include the opening of the Grand Lisboa
      For subscription enquiries,        Hotel in December, commencement of construction of Casino Oceanus which is scheduled for
            please email                 completion in November 2009 and commencement of construction of Casino L’Arc which is planned
          subs@asgam.com
                                         for opening in the third quarter of this year. The company also pointed out that it sees no need for
                                         borrowing in the coming year.
       For advertising enquiries,
             please email                     The company also announced last week that it had replaced the terms of its purchase option
           ads@asgam.com                 agreement for the Hotel Lisboa with an agreement for joint redevelopment of the property with its
        or call: (853) 6646 0795         parent company, Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM).
                                              Commenting on the company’s prospects, SJM CEO Ambrose So added: “Whilst the growth of
        www.asgam.com                    Macau’s gaming industry has been interrupted by the general weakening of the global economy
                                         and the tightening of visa restrictions, we remain confident in SJM Holdings’ ability to adapt and
              Printed by                 grow. We have all the ingredients in place to ensure continued success—the right products, the best
  Unique Network Printing Factory Ltd.   strategic locations and a highly successful operation at Casino Grand Lisboa, and will continue to
         Tel: (853) 2828 2832            exploit opportunities for growth based on our excellent relationships with gaming promoters while
         Fax: (853) 2828 2830
                                         capitalizing on our balance sheet flexibility.”
      E-mail: unique@macau.ctm.net
                                                                                                                   Kareem Jalal and Michael Grimes
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Feature




                                 Hold or Fold?
            If poker table supply consistently outstrips demand in Macau it could kill off
                                     the game’s brand equity



T
       here’s a saying among stage               the consciousness of local players. Poker has     theoretical house edge on baccarat in Macau
       performers—frequently attributed to       no such deep-rooted brand equity in Asia at       of 1.52% and the 1% or more commission
       the 19th century American showman         this stage.                                       paid by operators to junkets on the betting
P.T. Barnum—that you should always leave              For over zealous competition to kill         chips ‘rolled’ by VIP baccarat players. Despite
the audience wanting more. The same could        off poker’s green shoots now would be a           the house-friendly business model of poker,
apply to the gaming industry, which is after     great shame. With some gaming analysts            Macau casino operators also have the
all a form of entertainment that has its own     predicting as much as a 15% fall in baccarat      comfort zone of opting for a guarantee on
stage, set of directions and audience.           revenues during 2009 there has probably           minimum monthly income as the price of
     Brand building for poker in Macau is        never been a better time for poker to stake       the cooperation with a third party poker
arguably like working an audience. It’s a        its claim in the Macau market.                    room operator.
delicate process and the market players                                                                Although poker revenue as a
have to ‘feel’ the mood of the crowd. If table   Boom in a bust                                    proportion gross gaming win in Macau
supply gets too far ahead of demand it               In the baccarat boom times of the first       is miniscule, the poker model does seem
risks turning poker from a hot game to just      half of 2008, when baccarat tables in the         to have the additional virtue of attracting
another casino sideshow. Not only would          high roller and mass market sectors were          people from well educated, high earning
persistent table oversupply be bad for the       packed with players, casino managers saw          A and B social groups willing to engage in
existing poker room contractors, it’s also       poker as interesting, but essentially a niche     complementary spending on high value
likely to be bad for the image of the game.      product. It’s unlikely to move beyond niche       services such as luxury hotel rooms and
A bank of empty poker tables in a Macau          status for the foreseeable future. If carefully   fancy restaurant meals.
casino would send out entirely the wrong         managed, however, it could punch well                 “We think what’s happened in the United
message to uninitiated Asian players, i.e.,      above its gross gaming revenue weight             States and Europe over the past years has
‘This game is no good’. Baccarat can get         because of its business model.                    been extraordinary and we do expect that
away with empty tables during a period of            In Macau the rake on player buy-in fees       to continue in Asia. The question is when is it
economic recession because the game is           for poker games is typically set at 5% up         going to take off?” said Jeffrey Haas, President
already ingrained in the local culture and       to a US$200 cap. This compares with the           of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour, speaking at the
                                                                                                                   April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   7
Cover Story




recent Asian i-Gaming Congress & Expo (AiG)
in Macau.
    “I think in Macau it’s about the
diversification of gaming products. Poker is
significantly less than 1% as far as revenues
are concerned. It is marginal at best today,
but with a lot of potential. Poker, as far as
casinos are concerned, brings players in,
and those players and the people they bring
along can then be cross-sold other products,”
added Mr Haas.
    However, in order to nurture these
green and promising shoots, some careful
gardening may be required. Balancing                  Jeffrey Haas, second from left, at the recent AiG Conference in Macau
supply and demand can be difficult in
any industry. To get consumers to pay a               believe that it contains inherent value and       a positive statement about them to the
premium for a product or service they must            they must believe their purchase makes            wider world.



                                                          Balancing Act
    Avoiding oversupply is tricky when testing new gaming products in brand new markets


   I  f there was a poker room or casino on
      every street corner of every town, the
   chances are that gaming products would
                                                      even heard of those two gentlemen).

                                                      Poker chic
                                                                                                       Between February 2008 when SJM
                                                                                                       Holdings’ Grand Lisboa opened four
                                                                                                       poker tables, and the end of March this
   quickly lose their allure. A trip to a casino is         The advance guard of poker in Greater      year, poker table supply increased in
   a thrill and a special occasion, not a mun-        China (and by that we mean Hong Kong,            Macau by 850%. This is the net figure
   dane activity like going to the supermar-          Macau, and Taiwan as well as the People’s        when openings and closings are taken
   ket. Balancing supply and demand in such           Republic) appears to be an unashamedly           into account. Four tables opened at
   a way that the industry and governments            urban elite of sophisticated well-educated       Grand Lisboa; 16 at Grand Waldo; eight
   avoid killing the goose laying all the gold-       people with exposure to Western and other        at Galaxy StarWorld, and eight at Wynn
   en eggs is the key to success.                     outside influences. Peer influence is a major    Macau. Afterwards, the 16 tables at Grand
         That leads to the question of how            factor in building product markets. Why, for     Waldo and the original four at Grand
   casino operators in emerging casino                example, is a Porsche sports car considered      Lisboa closed, but the latter witnessed
   markets such as Asia go about marketing            cooler than a Subaru Impreza? The Impreza        an ulterior launch of 22 new tables.
   new products such as poker. Macau is an            has been known to beat the 911 Turbo and              During calendar year 2008, Macau’s
   overwhelmingly baccarat-centric place.             run the 996 close in straight line racing from   gross revenues from Texas Hold’em poker
   The game in all its table forms pulled in          a standing start. Yet the Porsche is consid-     grew dramatically—by 400% in fact—
   gross revenues of 95.2 billion patacas             ered highly desirable while the Subaru is        rising from four million patacas in the
   (US$11.9 billion) in 2008—equivalent to            considered merely an attractive urban toy.       first quarter, when SJM Holdings opened
   87.5% of all Macau’s takings that year from        Dollar for dollar, component for compo-          a four table room at the Grand Lisboa, to
   games of fortune.                                  nent, the Porsche may not cost significantly     20 million patacas after a flurry of room
         While such baccarat mania poses              more to make. The difference one could ar-       openings in the middle and second half of
   significant challenges for casino licensees        gue is the time and effort that’s gone into      the year, arriving at a total annual revenue of
   wishing to introduce new gaming                    not only the design of the Porsche but cru-      54 million patacas. This is miniscule (rather
   products to the Macau market, it also offers       cially also the way the Porsche is marketed.     than simply small) potatoes compared to
   unprecedented opportunities for them to            It’s sold as a niche product and its image is    the 73.7 billion patacas brought in by VIP
   start with a blank sheet of paper. Taking          carefully guarded.                               baccarat in the same period, but it’s not bad
   Texas Hold’em poker as an example, there                 So what relevance does all this have       from a standing start. Nevertheless, Poker’s
   are tens of millions of Chinese people out         for the Macau gaming market? Arguably            Macau gross is growing at only around half
   there with no preconceptions about the             the relevance is that live poker should be       the rate seen in poker table supply.
   game, other than a desire that it be fun and       a premium niche product marketed like                 It doesn’t take a maths prodigy
   fair. Hollywood chic means little or nothing       a Porsche, but that it’s currently being         therefore to work out that unless poker
   to them. If they like the game they will play      marketed as if it were a mass market             revenues put on a massive spurt in 2009,
   it regardless of whether Brad Pitt or George       Impreza.                                         then the existing market risks being
   Clooney thinks it is cool (assuming they’ve              Consider the following statistics.         cannibalised by the new table supply.

8 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
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  Cover Story




                                      Hard Lessons
        Macau knows from the VIP baccarat sector the perils
                       of lopsided markets

     M      acau casino operators already know
            from bitter experience what table
     oversupply can do even in a table games
                                                     a guaranteed HK$500,000 prize pool.
                                                         The data on poker table openings
                                                     and closures in 2008-09 in Macau show
     market showing aggressive growth. It            a trend toward consolidation, with the
     tends to lead to cut throat competition.        number of venues offering the game
     This is particularly the case in the VIP bac-   being reduced from four to three within
     carat sector where commissions paid by          the space of a year.
     casinos on the volume of money ‘rolled’             Contrast that scenario with typical
     by the VIPs can vary junket by junket and       situations in many US casinos, where
     sub-junket by sub-junket. In the first half     players have to put their names on a
     of 2008, when the number of baccarat            waiting list in order to get a game of poker.
     tables peaked at 4,400, and revenue was         Some venues have a white board with
     growing by 50% year on year, the market         the games and limits available along with
     witnessed what some analysts described          the waiting players’ initials. Others will       and association scene to find new players.
     as “irrational” competition on commissions      just have someone who writes initials or         Why shouldn’t online poker rooms seek
     as casino operators (in particular Crown        names on a sheet of paper. The card room         to tap in to the poker social scene in cities
     Macau) scrambled to trade margin on high        calls the next person on the list when a         such as Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing
     stakes baccarat in exchange for volume          seat becomes available.                          by offering games on a play-for-fun basis
     and market share.                                                                                and using this informal and specifically
          Macau poker room operators may have                                                         Asian business model to parlay those
     considerably less wiggle room available in                                                       online players into players in bricks and
     their business model to try to boost their                                                       mortar casinos? The chances are that the
     player appeal, given that Inside Asian                                                           average poker player in Greater China is
     Gaming understands the size of the rake has                                                      from a more desirable demographic group
     been negotiated in advance with Macau’s                                                          in terms of age, education and income
     gaming regulator, the Gaming Inspection                                                          than the average mahjong player. It would
     and Coordination Bureau (known by its                                                            be worth the effort in terms of building a
     Portuguese initials, DICJ). Guaranteed                                                           critical mass of players.
     income agreements with host casinos                                                                   A further point regarding the urban
     also put a crimp on poker operators’ scope                                                       elites playing poker in Hong Kong and
     for aggressive marketing. One option                                                             Shanghai etc is that you don’t need to
     might be for a poker room operator with                                                          use a big net in the hope of catching
     deep pockets effectively to run its Macau                                                        a few tadpoles. The urban elite players
     room as a loss leader, offering prize pools                                                      are a self-selecting sample that want
     sufficiently large sufficiently often simply                                                     to be ‘caught’. Why not market casino
     to kill off rival rooms.                                                                         poker to them in a subtle way via
                                                     Asian Poker Tour in the Philippines in January
                                                                                                      online subscription-based play for
     Competition                                                                                      fun rooms with prizes such as free
         The APT and APPT have certainly been        Town versus country                              weekends in Macau casino hotels? The
     proactive in their marketing of headline            There is similar strong demand               poker rooms within those properties
     poker tournaments in Macau. Last August,        for poker in Greater China, but it’s             need not be mentioned at any stage of
     the Macau leg of the APT featured world         concentrated in small urban pockets.             the marketing process, but any player
     famous players including Doyle Brunson          In Hong Kong, hundreds—possibly                  worth his or her salt will already be
     and a guaranteed prize pool of US$1.5           thousands—of players meet in restaurants         aware of their existence. It may be that
     million—a record for a Macau poker              on Friday nights to play in cashless games.      this is sailing close to the wind in terms
     tournament.                                     To describe these games as ‘play for fun’        of local laws or regulations in Hong
         PokerStars, the APPT’s online partner,      may be to miss the point. The players are        Kong or Mainland China. But given that
     recently closed down its room at the            just as competitive and devoted to their         Dr Stanley Ho is allowed to advertise
     Grand Waldo and opened a new 22-table           sport as any professional player chasing a       his casinos on terrestrial television in
     poker room on the second floor of the           million dollar jackpot in Las Vegas.             Hong Kong using misty waterfalls and
     Grand Lisboa. It launched the new venue             Online suppliers of mahjong games are        choreographed dancers performing tai
     with a HK$10,000 buy-in tournament and          already tapping in to China’s mahjong club       chi movements, then surely the poker
10 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
                                                                                                                                   Cover Story




lobby can come up with some equally
creatively obtuse campaign.
     The Macau poker market is undoubtedly
too small currently to warrant the kind of
left field, high cost, high profile advertising
and marketing campaign mounted by SJM
for Grand Lisboa and its other properties.
But Macau poker room operators could
certainly benefit from connecting directly
with the social poker movement. Then the
rooms could develop as truly local 24-hour
seven days per week attractions rather
than as loss leaders and temporary homes
for the visiting international circus of the
various poker tours. By carefully targeting
desirable demographic groups, online
poker rooms might also be able to create
new revenue streams by doing deals with
marketing companies that want to sell
other goods and services to this affluent         “In Hong Kong, hundreds—possibly thousands—of players meet in restaurants on Friday
urban clientele.                                  nights to play in cashless games”




                                          Poker at the crossroads
        One size may not fit all when it comes to marketing the game in Greater China

T    o understand how poker in Macau
     has come to a marketing crossroads,
it’s worth examining how the land-based
                                                       The APT recently announced it has
                                                  been given approval by Macau’s gaming
                                                  regulator, the Gaming Inspection and
                                                                                                   favourable margins in Macau rather than
                                                                                                   going for the safety route of guaranteed
                                                                                                   monthly income, it puts a great onus on
casino game has typically been marketed           Coordination Bureau, to expand the Macau         Wynn’s marketing operation to fill the tables
internationally since the advent of the           leg of its tournament from six days to 12.       seven days a week. Marketing information
commercially available Internet around 15         The APT Macau Festival will run from 12th to     displayed on Wynn Macau’s website about
years ago.                                        23rd August at the Galaxy StarWorld Hotel        its Macau poker room is limited, but if it
     The business model adopted by the            and Casino. The buy-in is set at US$4,300        follows the Las Vegas model, players can
service providers in Macau is essentially         (US$4000+300).The organisers add they            expect daily no limit Texas Hold’em prize
the one imported from North American              will also offer high-limit games and ‘sit-n-     games and regular tournaments along the
and European poker markets. Under this            go tables’ during the festival, hinting they     lines of the popular Wynn Classic events.
system, online poker rooms are used to            will up the ante on last year’s HK$1 million
feed players to land-based casino games,          (US$129,000) high rollers game.                  Under attack
and the land-based games (through                      The APPT, meanwhile, in concert with            A potential weakness of a poker-
affiliation or other business links with the      its online partner PokerStars.net, is offering   marketing model that relies on the online
online providers) provide the high profile        a guaranteed prize pool for its main event       sector supplying players for the bricks
prizes and glamour that help to nurture           on the Macau leg of the 2009 tour of             and mortar sector is that online gambling
and further develop the market.                   US$1.62 million. The APPT Macau, held at         businesses can be vulnerable to hostile
                                                  the Grand Waldo Casino from 1st to 9th           regulatory action. By contrast, this sort of
Partnerships                                      September, will have a buy in for the main       thing rarely happens to land-based gaming
    In Macau some operators have both             event of HK$25,000 (around US$3,000).            establishments. If a jurisdiction has gone to
opted to go with third party partners allied      The top prize for the High Rollers event will    the time and trouble of licensing a bricks
to online poker rooms (PokerStars.net and         be just under US$500,000.                        and mortar casino then (Cambodia and one
the Asia Pacific Poker Tour, in the case of            Wynn Macau has gone for a different         or two other rackety markets aside) it’s a
SJM’s Grand Lisboa, and AsianLogic and            poker room business model from SJM and           pretty safe bet that the authorities consider
its Asian Poker Tour, in the case of Galaxy       Galaxy. It has built on its wide experience      the establishment is here to stay and that
StarWorld). The APT has a stable of online        of the game at Wynn Las Vegas to produce         there’s a worthwhile trade-off in terms of
partners including iPoker, TITANPOKER,            an in-house poker room, rather than using        tax dollars. Governments get grumpy with
Dafapoker and Everest Poker to provide            third party promoters. While this means          online betting businesses because they’re a
players for APT events.                           Wynn can benefit directly from poker’s           lot harder to control in terms of regulation

                                                                                                                   April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   11
  Cover Story




     and taxation. This happens regardless as         it comes to supporting the local taxation       in some cases (albeit late at night) even on
     to whether the government concerned              system, local trade and American jobs.          free-to-air television.
     labels itself as socialist or free market in          Texas Hold’em can withstand this
     its thinking. That’s why the online gaming       challenge to its marketing model in             Tuned in
     sector has to face not only the Great Firewall   North America because it’s a relatively             “I guess a crucial aspect that really
     of China, which blocks direct marketing          mature product and already has a wide           fuelled the growth of poker in North
     or advertising of online cash gambling in        following. It’s worth remembering that          America and Europe was television,” said
     the PRC, but has also ended up lumbered          until ten or even five years ago poker was      Jake Kalpakian, President of the online
     with the Unlawful Internet Gambling              not an especially popular game even in          gaming company Las Vegas From Home,
     Enforcement Act imposed by the United            continental Europe. What has made a huge        during the recent discussion forum at AiG.
     States Congress, an institution not noted        difference it seems in the West is television       “It’s just a matter of time that once
     for its left of centre views but one with        coverage. Poker can now be seen on              it becomes more mainstream on TV,
     quite strong protectionist instincts when        subscription sports channels and in Europe      you’re going to see that exponential
                                                                                                      growth, beyond recognition,” added Mr
                                                                                                      Kalpakian.
                                                                                                          Given the sensitivities of the Chinese
                                                                                                      authorities around gambling, it’s likely,
                                                                                                      however, to be some time before poker
                                                                                                      receives such on-air coverage (even for
                                                                                                      play-for-fun games) in the PRC.
                                                                                                          For live table poker to become a
                                                                                                      truly sustainable seven days a week,
                                                                                                      24-hours per day business in Macau, in
                                                                                                      the manner of VIP baccarat, it will need
                                                                                                      to develop a major following beyond
                                                                                                      the buzz factor created by the various
                                                                                                      visiting poker tours with their headline
                                                                                                      grabbing big money prize pools. The
                                                                                                      prospect of too many tables chasing
                                                                                                      too few players in a still maturing casino
                                                                                                      poker market could actually set the
                                                                                                      game back.




                                                      Patent medicine
          Poker operators can learn lessons from the success of Western consumer branding in Asia
        Why would a young Chinese woman               spontaneously to an urban elite in places       that for many Chinese players baccarat
    rather be seen with a genuine Prada               such as Hong Kong are exactly the values        is as much about skill as about luck.
    bag than any number of locally labelled           that will allow the game to build its           Many players genuinely believe they
    alternatives? The answer is likely to be          popularity in Greater China. So what are        have the ability to ‘create’ the outcome
    because the foreign designer label is             the ‘brand values’ associated with Texas        they want from an already dealt baccarat
    considered chic or cool, despite the fact it      Hold’em poker?                                  card through supplication and mental
    may have come out of a factory in the same                                                        effort—hence the interest among
    Chinese industrial city.                          Skill                                           Chinese players in card squeezing. To
        If handled deftly as a product type                The first brand value arguably is          a Westerner raised on empiricism and
    in Asia, there’s little reason why poker          skill. Poker appeals to well educated           theories about probability, the idea of
    shouldn’t have the same kind of brand             professionals because it is seen more as        squeezing luck into a card may seem
    status as high fashion items. It is exotically    a pastime than as a hard gambling game          bizarre. But the important thing about
    foreign and an educated urban elite is            and therefore less prone to negative            any belief system is that it creates its
    currently championing it locally. Combine         judgements by family or peers. Players          own reality and that sense of reality is
    those factors and you get an aspirational         try to outdo each other by using skill,         enforced when events occur that seem
    product—just the sort of commodity that           judgement, timing and mental arithmetic         to chime with that particular believer’s
    can be marketed virally via peer-to-peer          rather than relying purely on luck. A           expectations. As Western belief systems
    recommendation.                                   little caution is required when talking         and cultural ideas of personal autonomy
        It’s possible to argue that the ‘brand        too sweepingly about luck for Asian             take hold in Asia, however, poker is likely
    values’ that have made poker appeal               gamblers. It’s worth bearing in mind            to get more, rather than less popular.
12 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   13
  Cover Story




    Fair play                                        at the poker table almost as much if not
                                                     more than they do acting awards.
                                                                                                     the APPT.
                                                                                                          “One of the greatest stories we have
         The second brand value of poker is
                                                                                                     seen recently in the region is the APT
    fairness. This is particularly important in
    a society such as China where trust of
                                                     Being first—among equals                        events in January, where a local Filipino
                                                         That leads on to the fourth brand           player won an event in the Philippines, and
    institutions and individuals is low and
                                                     value. Poker is meritocratic if not (strictly   now he’s a media darling. That’s the kind of
    cheating of systems is regarded as not just
                                                     speaking) egalitarian. Meritocracy is a         excitement that helps build poker up, and
    commonplace but as inevitable. Collusion
                                                     concept considered a virtue in many             we’re certainly looking forward to seeing
    in poker does occur and is not limited to
                                                     Western cultures, with their tendency to        that continuing.”
    online play. It can happen in any poker
                                                     focus on the autonomy and primacy of the             “Our prediction for poker over the next
    game with three or more players. The
                                                     individual. In Asian VIP baccarat, a player’s   five years is that it will certainly start in
    skill element of poker combined with
                                                     bank balance or general credit worthiness       Macau to outgrow some of the other key
    the methods available to webmasters
                                                     is the chief qualification for entry to the     Asian [jurisdictional] areas for poker, such
    for identifying fraud does arguably make
                                                     table. In poker, with the exception of          as Singapore, which is probably the top
    cheating harder. Most online poker rooms
                                                     high limit games, any player with enough        ranking for poker players at the moment,
    claim to scan for such activity by checking
                                                     gumption and skill can take a place at the      followed by the Philippines,” says Chris
    IP addresses and for use of multiple
                                                     table. Clerks can play alongside (and even      Parker, Chief Executive of the APT.
    accounts. In 2007, for example, PokerStars.
                                                     beat) company chairmen.                              “Asia is going to grow in terms of
    net, the feeder organisation for the Asia
                                                         “We’re seeing the emergence of              numbers and Macau will be the home of
    Pacific Poker Tour, disqualified the winner
                                                     local [Asian] heroes,” says Jeffrey Haas of     poker in Asia in the future.”
    of the World Championship of Online Poker
    for alleged abuse of multiple accounts. The
    winning player was registered under the
    handle ‘TheV0id’ but to this day there is a
    dispute about who was actually operating
    the account.

    Upwardly mobile
        The third brand value for poker is
    upward social mobility. Texas Hold’em is
    aspirational in the widest sense, and it
    seems to appeal especially to people who
    are already successful in other walks of life.
    Poker offers an intriguing combination
    of rugged individuality at the table with
    club-like camaraderie away from it—and
    the sophistication of belonging to an
    elite or select group. It’s no surprise that
    Hollywood stars seem to covet success




         A Sure
            Bet

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14 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   15
  Feature




                     Back to the Future
                                        LVS thinks it may be on track again in Macau

      When Sheldon Adelson stated recently
  that the stock price of his casino operating
  company Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS) would
  one day trade at US$100 per share, it’s
  possible to argue he wasn’t seeking cheap
  headlines.
      He was talking to the markets and to
  investors, and he had several messages
  rolled into one. The first was: ‘I’m still here
  despite the recent board room divisions
  and as hungry as ever for success and with
  undimmed personal energy’. The second was:
  ‘There’s nothing wrong with our business
  model. We were hit by a perfect storm of
  once-in-a-lifetime economic conditions’.
      While both messages are statements of
  opinion and will have their veracity tested
  by events, the markets do appear slowly to
  be regaining faith in LVS.
      There is, however, a long way to go to
  get back to the heights of 2007. LVS went
  public in a 2004 offering at US$29 a share.          Sheldon Adelson
  By October 2007, its shares had risen to
  US$140. In the first full week of April this year   began in Q4 2008, the markets certainly
  the shares were trading at US$4.03 each on          displayed great faith in the company. Few        China talks
  the New York Stock Exchange.                        analysts raised serious objections when in           The news about restarting construction
      But as a number of macroeconomics               late 2007 a number of investment bankers         on Cotai followed another statement by Mr
  commentators have mentioned recently,               were bandying around figures of US$17            Adelson late last month. Mr Adelson revealed
  all markets remain vulnerable to sudden             billion being raised by monetisation of          he and Michael A. Leven, Bill Weidner’s
  nervousness on the part of investors. It’s          LVS’s real estate such as shopping malls and     replacement as President and Chief
  perfectly possible for LVS to regain its            apartments, as if it were already money in       Operating Officer at LVS, had travelled to
  position as an outstanding performer in its         the bank.                                        China to meet with four groups enthusiastic
  sector, given its positioning in Macau and               Mr Adelson, the company’s founder,          about buying into the company. He said
  the numbers of passionate gamblers in               chairman and chief executive, is an excellent    they included two construction companies
  China. In order for the stock of LVS and other      salesman for his organisation. He recently       interested in financing and building the two
  casino operators with Asian operations to           went into overdrive with a number of public      suspended hotel projects on the Cotai Strip
  be protected from sudden shocks linked to           announcements.                                   in Macau in exchange for equity.
  investor volatility, though, markets generally           The most prominent—delivered in early           “They’re serious people with serious
  will need to regain ‘traction’—i.e., solid and      April by Stephen Weaver, a man described         intent and deep enough pockets,” stated Mr
  sustainable growth.                                 in LVS earnings call transcripts as ‘President   Adelson, although he cautioned it was too
                                                      of Asia’ (possibly a little premature even for   soon to announce any firm news.
  Business structure                                  a company of LVS’s regional stature) —was            Since that statement, though, it’s been
      On the issue of the strength of LVS’s           that LVS planned to resume construction          revealed in SEC filings that in the last three
  business model, there can be little doubt           of its stalled Macau projects by year-end.       trading days of March Mr Adelson bought an
  that following the debt default risk drama          Work on LVS’s Cotai site was suspended           additional 12.6 million company shares for
  of last November, investors will in future be       last November following the default risk         US$37.4 million. Given the timing of the share
  asking harder questions of Mr Adelson and           announcement and warning about LVS as a          purchase, analysts say it’s unlikely that a deal
  his company.                                        going concern made in a statement by the         with one or more of the unnamed investors
      Prior to the global credit crisis and           company’s auditors to the US Securities and      is imminent. For a chairman to buy his
  the massive discounting of its stock that           Exchange Commission.                             company’s shares when he has knowledge
16 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
                                                                                                                                         Feature




of a deal that could boost the price of those    casino investors.                                 month that 19 investors had come forward
same shares would be to contravene the                Given that LVS has spent or is still         as possible buyers of space in LVS’s two
strict US laws on insider trading. Mr Adelson    committed to spending (excluding the              Cotai malls in Macau. Monetisation of real
is not that sort of chairman.                    currently still suspended and undeveloped         estate may also be an option at LVS’s Marina
                                                 plots on Cotai) around US$7.6 billion on          Bay Sands project in Singapore, which is
Message in a buy back                            infrastructure for its Asian schemes, the trick   due to have its first phase opening at the
    LVS recently hired Goldman Sachs to          will be to find creative ways of maximising       end of this year.
negotiate an option for the casino company       returns on that capital investment.                    There is, though, an important issue
to buy back from LVS’ lenders as much as              The company has already outlined             regarding monetisation of LVS’s real estate.
US$800 million of its debt.                      some methods for this. At the completed           The market is currently very focused on hard
    Given that Mr Adelson said there were        Four Seasons plot on Cotai, for example,          evidence rather than warm words. If LVS is
no immediate plans to exercise the option        LVS has identified a co-operative system of       able to convince investors in the coming
of the buy back, it was an effective way of      the sort used to market units in Manhattan        weeks and months that it can ‘show them
signalling to the market LVS’s capacity to       apartment buildings as a way of selling on        the money’ from monetisation and other
reduce its debt without actually spending        title to smaller investors.                       initiatives, then it’s likely the market will
the cash.                                             In October last year, LVS said it had        respond accordingly in pushing up further
    “We don’t have any intention now and         been given permission by the Macau                LVS’s stock price.
we have no intention of having an intention      government to use the cooperative system               The markets have already shown their
in the very near future. Right now it’s not      to sell apartments in the Four Seasons            support for Mr Adelson’s leadership by
necessary for us to do this,” Mr Adelson told    tower and to monetise cash flow generated         backing his shares during the recent spate
the Associated Press at the time of the option   by The Shoppes at Four Seasons, its 200,000       of high profile executive departures. This
announcement.                                    square foot luxury retail mall located on the     may be because of, rather than in spite of,
    According to its annual report, LVS          same plot.                                        the going of Bill Weidner, James Purcell,
had US$10.4 billion in debt at the end                Recently in an interview with Newsweek       Bradley Stone, Mark A. Brown and several
of 2008, up from US$7.5 billion the              magazine, Mr Adelson continued the real           other senior Macau-based executives.
previous year. LVS gave a hint recently          estate theme.                                     Markets tend to discount a company if they
of how important real estate could be in              “We make more money these days on            perceive it has a power struggle at the top,
rebuilding the fortunes of the company           hotel rooms than we do on the casinos,” he        and reward those companies where the
when it appointed Jeff Schwartz, a former        was quoted as saying.                             leadership structure is clear, particularly
CEO of ProLogis Inc., to its board of                 Neither Mr Adelson nor the magazine          when the leader is a person of Mr Adelson’s
directors. ProLogis is one of the world’s        clarified whether he was referring to LVS’        commitment and energy.
largest owners of distribution centres,          global operations or a specific market, or             If LVS can combine a ‘clear out’ at the top,
with more than 475 million square feet of        how ‘making money’ should be defined in           with strategically astute policies and also
space in North America, Europe and Asia.         this context (for example, net profit, revenue    benefit from a run of good luck in terms of
    “As a company with an already significant    or yield on investment).                          positive sentiment in the general market,
and still growing presence in Asia, Jeff’s                                                         then it may be able to return to the kind of
insights [on behalf of LVS] will certainly       Interest                                          virtuous circle of investor value it enjoyed in
be valuable as we continue to execute our            Mr Adelson added in comments to an            the heady days before the escalation of the
development plans in the region, specifically    investment forum in New York City last            credit crisis.
the opening of the Marina Bay Sands in
Singapore,” said Mr Adelson at the time.
                                                  Marina Bay Sands
Keep it real
    Property may be a face card (if not an
ace card) in LVS’s pack during its current
challenges. Assets, including real estate,
are of course only worth what people are
prepared to pay for them, as has been
painfully proven by the present global
crisis. A large and diversified property
portfolio does, though, arguably offer
some kind of hedge against falling casino
revenue. It has the potential of providing
security for any future lenders, and in
the case of Macau at least; sales should
provide profits even in a depressed market,
because of the cheap terms on which the
Macau government leased land to foreign
                                                                                                                   April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   17
  Talking Heads




  Singing the Lion
    City’s Praises
       Tristan Sjöberg, TCSJOHNHUXLEY’s managing director
                       for Asia, shares his views
             on the region’s next big gaming destination




  C
         asino       equipment          supplier   environment to be in. The infrastructure            the perennial stopover city to Australia or
         TCSJOHNHUXLEY           opened      its   is good and they welcome foreign direct             to go to a beach resort, or just as a business
         Singapore office last year ahead of       investment. Initially it was set up to service      location. You go there for business, then you
  the opening of the city-state’s first casinos.   the Southeast Asian market of Malaysia,             move on somewhere else.
  Las Vegas Sands Corp is scheduled to open        Singapore and also the Thai satellite                   The Singapore government is now
  the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort (IR)      countries, such as Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam,         trying to change that, and trying to make it
  in December this year, followed by Genting       Myanmar.                                            a destination in its own right, and casinos
  Group’s Resorts World at Sentosa in the                                                              are an integral part of that. They call
  first quarter of 2010. Inside Asian Gaming       What about the labour situation in                  them IRs—integrated resorts. Having one
  spoke to Tristan Sjöberg, TCSJOHNHUXLEY’s        Singapore? Obviously in Macau it’s                  which focuses on the business clientele
  managing director for Asia, about the            difficult to find technical staff?                  in Marina Bay and one that focuses on
  prospects for Singapore’s IRs.                       That’s the good thing about Singapore.          the more family-oriented resort crowd on
                                                   There’s a large talent pool here and it’s           Sentosa. I think that’s a very good plan,
  IAG: Why did you choose Singapore as             relatively easy to employ technical staff, or       and I applaud the Singapore government
  your Southeast Asian base [outside of            sales staff. The staffing issue so far has been     for taking that stance.
  Macau]?                                          much easier than we have experienced in
     Mr Sjöberg: It’s a very good business         Macau.                                              Will it take any customers away from
                                                                                                       Macau?
                                                   The consensus seems to be that                          I think it will actually. I qualify that by
                                                   Singapore will never measure up to                  saying we’re still waiting to hear what exactly
                                                   Macau in terms of gambling revenue.                 the Singapore government will require in
                                                   How do you see Singapore shaping up                 terms of keeping track of the players. You
                                                   once the two integrated resorts are open            might get high rollers from mainland China,
                                                   for business?                                       the VIP customers. They might prefer to go to
                                                       I appreciate that view, but I think it might    Singapore to gamble as opposed to Macau.
                                                   not be very fair to Singapore. I’ll tell you why.
                                                   Of course Singapore will never measure up           Because if they go to Macau, it’s more
                                                   in terms of total gaming revenue as Macau,          obvious what they’re going for?
                                                   where there are 31 casinos and growing—                  Yes, it is. It’s obvious what they’re going
                                                   on June 1st City of Dreams will open, and           for. The shopping in Macau is also not as
                                                   there’s going to be more casinos in the             good as in Singapore. If they [mainland
                                                   future. Singapore will only have two casinos        Chinese high rollers] bring their wives, the
                                                   [with no further licenses to be granted for 20      wives might want to do more shopping.
                                                   years], so it will not be able to measure up,       It’s easier for a mainland Chinese to get a12
                                                   for sure, with Macau. But it’s not trying to.       month multiple entry visa to Singapore. All
                                                   The Singapore government sees the casino            you basically need to do is show that you’re
                                                   resorts as an integral part of getting tourists     employed, and you have money for a return
                                                   to the city, because Singapore has been             ticket. So for mainland Chinese VIP players, it
  Tristan Sjöberg                                  always the bridesmaid, never the bride. It’s        will be very easy to nip over to Singapore.
18 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
                                                                                                                            Talking Heads




    Yes, the flight time [to Singapore] is        much easier cultural adjustment.               provide a client list? And money reporting,
longer, but if you’re going to fly five hours         I do believe some of the VIP market        and all these things.
or three hours, it’s not going to make much       in Macau will suffer. Whether it will suffer       Knowing Singapore, I think they probably
of a difference. There are six direct flights a   enough to have a significant impact, I         will require the junkets to be licensed. But
day between Beijing and Singapore. And I          don’t know.                                    there are also very strict confidentiality laws
think there are 12 between Hong Kong and                                                         here. So it will be interesting to keep an eye
Singapore. There are a lot of flights between     Will squeaky-clean Singapore issue             out on the amount of exchange between
mainland China and Singapore.                     licenses to the junkets that traditionally     the Singapore government and the PRC
    I don’t think the mass market is going to     bring VIP players to the casinos?              [People’s Republic of China] government.
change their behaviour—they’re all going              This is the million dollar question, and
to continue going to Macau, but I think the       everyone is waiting for the Singapore Casino   Do you assume the Singapore
VIP segment is going to seriously look at         Regulatory Authority to announce how           government would keep information
Singapore as a resort destination.                they’re actually going to license it. Nobody   about VIP players more private than
                                                  really knows. They’ve come out with one        the Macau government, which could be
Macau still draws players predominately           document regarding electronic gaming           pressured more to share the information
from neighbouring Guangdong province              equipment standards, and there are some        with the Chinese government?
in mainland China. Do you think                   questions regarding the interpretation of           Correct. That’s a gut feeling, but yes,
Singapore will be draw players more from          that content.                                  that’s what I’m saying. The risk of exchange
other parts of China?                                 They’re saying local residents will have   of information between Macau and Beijing is
    Yes, I think so. The fact that they use       to pay S$100 for 24-hour access to the         far greater than the risk between Singapore
Mandarin, simplified Chinese, is a great          gaming floor. That’s what they’ve said,        and Beijing.
draw as well. Guangdong people coming to          but they haven’t actually come out with
Macau will find it very easy, because it’s the    a definitive statute saying this is exactly    Apart from attracting some VIP players
same language [Cantonese], whereas if you         what’s going to happen. And the same           away from Macau, where will the bulk of
come from Chengdu, or Beijing or northern         goes for the junkets. Are they [the junkets]   players at Singapore’s integrated resorts
China, where they actually speak Mandarin         going to be licensed? How is that going        come from?
as their first language, Singapore will offer a   to affect the VIPs? Will the junkets have to      Apart from the local clientele—and let’s




  TouchTable MultiPLAY Roulette
                                                                                                                                               19
  Talking Heads




                                                                                                             I think it has to do with training of
                                                                                                         customers really. It’s historical reasons.
                                                                                                         Genting has been there for such a long time,
                                                                                                         and when it was opened, it was modelled
                                                                                                         on the western style casinos, so they put a
                                                                                                         lot of roulette in there, and people adapted
                                                                                                         to it. And also, Malaysian culture is slightly
                                                                                                         different from Chinese culture, so you have
                                                                                                         a different mentality as well among the
                                                                                                         Malaysian population.

                                                                                                         But Singaporean culture is more Chinese
                                                                                                         culture, isn’t it?
                                                                                                              Yes, but it’s Peranakan Chinese.
                                                                                                         Peranakan Chinese are sort of the Malay
                                                                                                         Straits Chinese, and they’ve had a lot of
                                                                                                         Western influence over the last 150 years,
                                                                                                         so they’ve had a lot more international
                                                                                                         influences and the culture has evolved
                                                                                                         into its own subset. You can see that with
                                                                                                         the buildings in Singapore and Malaysia.
                                                                                                         It’s taken a lot of European influences,
                                                                                                         and taken some Malays influences. So the
                                                                                                         Chinese sub-culture here is a different
                                                                                                         Chinese than the mainland Chinese, or the
                                                                                                         one that evolved in Macau. Hence we think
                                                                                                         it’s going to be a lot more roulette.
  Touch ID technology in action on TouchTable MultiPLAY Roulette
                                                                                                         So I guess that bodes well for some of
  not forget that even though Singapore only          think the awareness of the IRs in India is         your electronic roulette products?
  has 4.5 million residents, it has a very high       actually quite high.                                    Our new showroom is being
  standard of living and most of them are                  And obviously the flight connections          constructed now and once we’ve got the
  likely to gamble, they like a little flutter—       between India and Singapore are quite              MultiPLAY table here, in Singapore, we’re
  apart from that local market, I think Malaysia      good. The problem for Indians coming to            going to invite the two casinos to have a
  and Indonesia are certainly going to be two         Macau is how do they get there, and once           detailed demonstration. It is important
  of the top markets.                                 they get there, there’s not much to do             our customers have a look at it, to feel it,
       Obviously, casinos are banned in               beyond the casinos.                                play it, touch it.
  Indonesia, and Singapore with direct                     The flight connections between India               The worldwide roll out of MultPLAY has
  ferries and direct flights will offer a perfect     and Singapore are amazing. Obviously,              been very successful. We’ve just installed
  venue for Indonesians wanting to gamble.            after the Chinese, the Indians are the             a table at Gold Reef Casino in South Africa.
  With Malaysia as well, people who want a            largest group here. So I think the catchment       It’s on trial and doing really well. This has
  different experience from Genting Resorts           area for Singapore is going to be large. And       been the case pretty much everywhere it’s
  World up the mountain might choose                  let’s face it, the casino offerings in India are   gone. So we think that Singapore will be a
  Genting Sentosa instead. Rather than going          quite limited.                                     perfect market for this product, because the
  up a mountain to a tropical rainforest, they                                                           market here is very sophisticated in terms of
  might go down to the beach.                         Roulette is the most popular game at               electronic gadgets, and they like technology
       And let’s not forget the Indian market         Genting in Malaysia, whereas Macau is              and efficiency.
  either.                                             dominated by baccarat. What do you see
                                                      playing out in Singapore?                          Do you see Macau moving away from
  Many predict there will be a lot of                     I think it will be a mixture of the Genting    its current baccarat dominance towards
  demand from Indian players, but                     Malaysia style and the Macau style. I don’t        other games?
  how realistic is it that large numbers              think it will go to either extreme. I think the        Not in the immediate future. I think
  of Indians will come to Singapore to                Singapore casinos will have much more              slot machines will slowly start to grow
  gamble?                                             roulette than the Macau casinos for sure, but      in popularity. I can’t see the table
      I think it’s very realistic. I speak to a lot   more baccarat than in Malaysia.                    games mix changing in the immediate
  of Indians, and they’re looking forward to                                                             future. Maybe over the five to ten year
  the IRs here. I have a good from Delhi, who’s       Why is roulette so much bigger in                  period, it might change into a little more
  asking me “oh, when will the IRs open?” I           Malaysia?                                          blackjack.
20 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
                                                                                                      WMS




               Reel Estate
  WMS says careful preparation and market knowledge is
       helping the company gain traction in Asia


    Stuart Gribble is probably very good at     Macau market in the last year and the results
the famous board game Monopoly, where           are coming through,” says Mr Gribble, WMS’
players aspire to build up a critical mass of   Sales Manager South-East Asia.
property assets and bump their competitors          “We’re growing our market share,
out the market. That’s because when it          and not necessarily through market
comes to sales of his WMS slot products,        shrinkage, but through sales. Every time
he believes in careful planning followed by     I come in contact with a competitor I’m
decisive action at just the right moment.       hearing congratulations. Perhaps we
    The imagery is very appropriate, given      were a little slow to start, but we are
that WMS is the maker of the hugely             consolidating now.
successful slot game series MONOPOLY                “My sales are perpetuated by the work
Big Event, which was named Best New Slot        that we do beforehand. The evidence
Game in the Inside Asian Gaming – Supplier      is clear, because I’m receiving orders in
Awards 2009 in January.                         Macau, and I don’t know of anybody else in
    WMS doesn’t claim to have been first        this position,” he adds.
out of the gate in pursuing slot sales in           “Aristocrat is still dominant in the
Macau, but the company does believe it has      Macau market, but I’d like to think WMS is
made up for that by working really hard to      somewhere around second. I’m not talking
understand the market.                          about machines on the floor, but in terms of
                                                performance,” Mr Gribble states.
Clear target                                        When asked about the origin of his
                                                                                                The BLUEBIRD®2 cabinet
   “We’ve been extremely focused on the         meticulous approach, he smiles. “It’s
                                                                                                probably my manufacturing background,”
                                                                                                he explains.

                                                                                                G2E Asia
                                                                                                     The next big WMS product launch for
                                                                                                Asia, at G2E Asia 2009 in June, will be the
                                                                                                BLUEBIRD®2 cabinet. It’s described by the
                                                                                                company as a slimmer, sleeker version of
                                                                                                the original BLUEBIRD concept, with dual
                                                                                                LCD displays in both video and mechanical
                                                                                                reel versions. The BLUEBIRD2 supports all of
                                                                                                the peripheral devices of its larger sibling,
                                                                                                but sheds the traditional glass in favour
                                                                                                of a second high definition LCD panel.
                                                                                                Importantly, the cabinet is supplied ready
                                                                                                for server-based gaming.
                                                                                                     If Melco Crown Entertainment’s new
                                                                                                Cotai resort City of Dreams opens in the
                                                                                                first half of 2009 as planned, then it is likely
                                                                                                to be the first venue in the region to carry
                                                                                                BLUEBIRD2—at around the same time as the
                                                                                                regional launch of the product at G2E Asia.

                                                                                                Simply fun
MONOPOLY Big Event, named Best New Slot Game in the Inside Asian Gaming – Supplier                   One of the striking things when looking
Awards 2009                                                                                     at the chunky electro-mechanical reels of the

                                                                                                                April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   21
 WMS




 MONOPOLY Grand Hotel Big Event game on                                                             We’re quite careful to make sure they don’t
 a BLUEBIRD2 displayed at the International                                                         clash,” he says.
 Gaming Expo in London recently, is how                                                                 Mr Gribble is also hopeful about picking
 beautifully clear and simple the game is. This                                                     up WMS sales in the Singapore casino market
 may well be a selling point in a market such                                                       when it goes live late this year.
 as Macau, where a common observation                                                                   “We have some exposure to the
 heard particularly from market research                                                            Singapore market through cruise ships,
 surveys of mainland Chinese visitors is that                                                       and of course we have sales at Genting
 multi-line games are hard for newcomers to                                                         [Highlands in Malaysia],” states Mr Gribble.
 understand at first.                                                                               WMS will be represented by RGB for
     “My three-reel machines in Macau are                                                           sales at Resorts World at Sentosa, while
 certainly very successful,” says Mr Gribble.                                                       Mr Gribble will deal directly with LVS at
     “Apart from the button legends, it’s                                                           Marina Bay Sands.
 American-style, with the number 7s and                                                                 “We certainly expect there’ll be demand
 bars. They’re very easy to understand.                                                             for our product in Singapore, and we’re very
     “At G2E Asia, the BLUEBIRD2 cabinet                                                            positive in general about our prospects for
 will be used to demonstrate our network                                                            the rest of 2009,” he adds.
 gaming offer. We’ll have a selection of all the
 different categories of product we offer on
 that cabinet,” explains Mr Gribble.

 Local appetite
     He adds machine replacement cycles
 are typically shorter in venues catering for        Stuart Gribble
 local players compared to those hosting
 outsiders.                                          them,” states Mr Gribble.
     “If you’re a casino aimed at the local
 market, you’re going to have to keep the            Insight
 floor fresh,” he explains. “But if you’re focused        “Part of what I’ve been doing in the
 on a more transient market, you can hold on         past year is building my understanding of
 to the product a little longer.                     the player market in order to provide the
     We are in Mocha [Clubs in Macau], for           product configured correctly to meet their
 example, and working hard to build our              expectations. And I know we are having
 performance there. “They have a very strong         an impact at several of the sites. We are
 locals crowd. They are constantly busy              working now on product concepts and
 working the floors and we’re there to help          variations. We are even looking at the Orion
                                                     product for them.”
                                                          So far, the only place in Macau where
                                                     players have the chance to see Orion games
                                                     is in the WMS showroom and in an occasional
                                                     test bank of machines in a casino.
                                                          “We’ve      just    completed       our
                                                     configurations and specifications for
                                                     Orion products right for the market. I’m
                                                     a little careful about that stuff. You want
                                                     it to work. You’ve got to give it the best
                                                     possible chance,” states Mr Gribble.
                                                          “We have a common platform with Orion
                                                     and share an OS [operating system] to a
                                                     certain level—although not completely. You
                                                     can’t just swap a WMS game into an Orion
                                                     cabinet,” he explains.

                                                     Branding
                                                         “Orion products have a differentiation
                                                     from WMS games. The Orion designers
                                                     explore and focus on different areas of game
 MONOPOLY Grand Hotel Big Event                      theme and design than the WMS designers.       An Orion game

22 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
                                                                                                                                  In Focus




                       Manila Envelope
      The Philippines is busy building the first of two casino resorts—but will tourists come?




‘B
         uild it and they will come’ was more
         or less the mantra of Las Vegas Sands     vary depending on to whom you talk.
         Corp. in Macau. They did, but ‘they’          The scheme that’s already well
didn’t—or at least not in enough numbers           under way—Newport City, near Manila’s       hotels, an ‘entertainment complex’, a
and not quite quickly enough to keep               international airport—has been touted       ‘sports complex’ and a golf course, but the
nervous bankers happy. To be fair to LVS, the      by the country’s president and central      ‘c’ word is notable by its absence. In the
company had a once in a lifetime run of bad        government as an economic regeneration      Philippines it appears that gaming is often
luck with world economics, compounded              project. Nowhere on Newport City’s          a product that dare not speak its name
by some microeconomic and political issues         website however will visitors find the      for fear of offending opponents. This is in
unique to China.                                   word ‘casino’. There’s lots of talk about   stark contrast to Macau where gaming is at
    So if Macau is struggling to find
success with the brave new world of Asian
integrated resort gaming in the present
global downturn, what are the chances of
a secondary market such as the Philippines
making a success of it?
    Broadly speaking, the plan of the
Philippine Amusement and Gaming
Corporation (Pagcor), the government-
owned gaming operator-cum-regulator,
is to marry the market experience,
relative liquidity and local fundraising
skills of domestic real estate developers
with the operational and equipment
manufacturing expertise of foreign
gaming companies by building two
integrated gaming resorts in Manila.

Making plans
    Part of the difficulty for outside investors
and analysts in assessing the medium to
long-term prospects of these schemes is that
the details appear to change on an almost
daily basis. Even the names of the projects        The SMX convention center
                                                                                                             April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   23
  In Focus




  the heart of the economy.                          referred to at various times in various ways    in relation to development of an area
      Newport City (also sometimes referred to       as: Bagong Nayong Pilipino—Manila Bay           referred to as ‘Manila Bayshore’, a zone that
  as Newport Entertainment City) covers a 25-        Integrated City; Bagong Nayong Pilipino—        forms part of the Manila Bay regeneration
  hectare site in the Pasay City district of Metro   Entertainment City Manila; Pagcor City          area. It seems reasonable to assume that
  Manila within sight of the international           and just plain ‘Manila Bay’. What does seem     this budget may well have been revised
  airport. Building work on the gaming resort        clear is that it will have a casino resort      downward in the wake of the global credit
  portion (about eight hectares) is already well     under the branding ‘Okada Resort Manila’        crisis that gripped financial markets soon
  under way and that part of the scheme is           or possibly ‘Okada Resort Manila Bay’,          afterwards.
  touted for completion this year. Inside Asian      in recognition of Kazuo Okada, founder              SM Group’s parent company was
  Gaming understands it will have a casino           and chairman of ARUZE Corp., which has          publicly listed in 2005 and is now one of
  (though the precise branding of the casino         confirmed it will be the gaming partner for     the Philippines’ biggest conglomerates,
  is yet to be confirmed officially) as well as      the second scheme.                              occupying a leading position in shopping
  a Marriott Hotel (understood to be the first            Funding is still being finalised for the   malls, retailing, banking, finance and
  Marriott-branded property in Metro Manila)         second scheme, says one of the partners,        property.
  and a suites-only Maxims Hotel—a Genting           SM Investments Corporation, the holding             The success of both Manila schemes
  branded product.                                   company of the Philippines-based SM             may depend on how much the two business
      The second gaming resort project               Group, although no clear guidance has so        models rely on foreign visitors and how
  is a more ambitious 40-hectare site on             far been given to the media on the budget.      much on home-grown customers. Those
  reclaimed land at Manila Bay near to the           In September last year, a figure of US$1.1      numbers will in turn be influenced by what
  SMX Convention Center. This site has been          billion was mentioned in the local media        happens in the regional economy.



      Gone with the
         Wind
   Manila Bay will be radically
   different from the scheme
    first announced last year

  B   agong Nayong Pilipino (aka Manila Bay)
      will be a pale shadow of the grandiose
  US$15 billion scheme proposed back in
  April last year, when credit was cheap and
  plentiful and consumer confidence in the
  region was soaring. Gone is the Universal
  Studios theme park proposed by Genting
  International, the development wing of
  Malaysia’s gaming operator Genting Group
  Berhad. Gone indeed from the Philippines’
  gaming expansion plan is the Genting parent,
  leaving its subsidiary Star Cruises, the casino
  ship operator, as the only participant from
  the group. Star Cruises has set up its regional    Resorts’ common stock (equal to Steve           facility there from Japan. The company adds
  back office at the Newport site and has also       Wynn’s personal holding). As the Wynn filing    it also plans to relocate its game software
  taken an equity stake in Alliance Global           puts it: “As a result Mr Wynn and Aruze USA     development team to the Philippines.
  Group, the local conglomerate developing           Inc., to the extent they vote their shares in        Kingson Sian, President of Travellers
  the Newport resort.                                a similar manner, may be able to control        International Hotel Group Inc, a 50:50 joint
       ARUZE Corp., the gaming equipment             all matters requiring our stockholders’         venture between the local conglomerate
  maker and casino hotel operator with roots         approval, including the approval of             Alliance Global Group and Malaysia’s Star
  in Japan is though a good catch for Pagcor as      significant corporate transactions.” Kazuo      Cruises, gave an update on the Newport
  a gaming partner, given its powerful position      Okada, chairman and founder of Universal        project during Asia’s GEM, the annual
  in the international industry. According           Co. Ltd, which became ARUZE Corp in             congress and expo of the Philippines gaming
  to a 10-K filing with the US Securities and        1998, has served as vice chairman of Wynn       industry organised by Pagcor and held at the
  Exchange Commission on 2nd March this              Resorts since 2002. ARUZE has underlined its    beginning of April.
  year, ARUZE, through its subsidiary ARUZE          commitment to the Philippines by recently            “Last year we [as Global Alliance]
  USA Inc., is a 21% shareholder in Wynn             moving its gaming machine manufacturing         applied for a gaming licence [for Newport]
24 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   25
  In Focus




  and that was granted on 2nd June last               It’s reasonably safe to assume that when         “Because of this financial crisis the entire
  year,” said Mr Sian.                           the planners came up with the name Newport        system changed, so certainly some [casino]
      “On 31st July we sold 50% of the           City, they did not have in mind Christopher       operators around the world are struggling
  company to Star Cruises and thus we            Newport. He was one of the most successful        right now,” says Mikio Tanji, Executive Adviser
  brought in a gaming partner—Star Cruises       English pirates and explorers of the 16th         in charge of preparing ARUZE’s entry into
  being ultimately owned by Genting Group of     century, plundering huge amounts of gold          the Philippines market.
  Malaysia. Together we are embarking upon       from the Spanish (the colonial power in the
  creating a dream and making the dream a        Philippines from 1565 to 1898) and from the       Prospects
  reality. We are embarking on two projects.     Portuguese (the European settlers and later           “But in the medium to long term certainly,
  The first is called Newport Entertainment      administrators of Macau from 1557 to 1999).       growth can still be expected in this particular
  City, a 7.8-hectare property across from       Newport may need to plunder a few visitors        industry. That’s because fortunately the
  the [Manila] airport Terminals 2 and 3. The    from other regional casino jurisdictions if it    number of rich people is getting bigger
  construction there is ongoing and we are       is to be a success.                               and bigger in places like China, in India, in
  looking to spend around US$450 million. The                                                      Brazil—in fact all over the world. It seems
  project will be completed in phases but we                                                       to be a kind of human instinct that people
  should be open this year,” added Mr Sian.                                                        want to play machines or table games. They
                                                                                                   are tired to sit at a desk [at work] and face
  Hotel offer                                                                                      their computer and their paperwork. So
       He added the company was working                                                            maybe once or twice a year they like to get
  to complete a five-star, 365-room Marriott                                                       away from that and go on holiday to try their
  Hotel on the Newport site and a 70-room                                                          instinct and their luck on machines or table
  all-suite hotel under a Genting brand                                                            games,” he explains.
  called Maxim’s Hotel, plus a 1,000-room                                                              “One important aspect for us on this
  budget hotel.                                                                                    project is certainly to invite Filipino people to
       “Another part of the integrated                                                             our [Manila Bay] resort but at the same time
  entertainment concept will be a 1,000-seat     The Marriott brand can already be seen at         to invite foreign people to the Philippines so
  theatre and there’ll be a mall. Most of that   the Newport City site, which is still under       that they can play at our casino and spend
  should be completed this year,” he stated.     construction                                      money here,” adds Mr Tanji.


                                                 dedicated gamblers, namely: South Korea           Entertainment City] and we were able to
                                                 (611,629 visitors and a market share of           close a deal prior to the global meltdown.
                                                 19.48%); Japan (359,306 and a share of                Funding has been secured for that first
                                                 11.44%); and China (163,689 and a 5.21%           project,” he adds.
                                                 share). Of more concern to investors will
                                                 be the sluggish growth rate of Philippines        Local funding
                                                 tourism. Despite the regional boom time                “Although credit has tightened globally,
                                                 that lasted up to the third quarter of            I think in the Philippines liquidity is still there
                                                 2008, the country managed only 1.53%              for good projects,” says Mr Sian.
                                                 year-on-year growth in tourist numbers,                “We’re looking to go out into the market
    Not enough foreigners are                    as compared to 2007, according to DoT             and raise something like US$150 million to
   currently saying ‘Wow’ to the                 data. By contrast, Macau’s visitor numbers        US$200 million dollars. We believe we will be
     Philippines holiday offer                   soared by 13.4% year-on-year in the first         able to secure that entirely in the Philippines.
                                                 11 months of 2008.                                And so, for well developed projects with
                                                      The success or otherwise of both schemes     good proponents, people should be able to

  I f the Newport City project is relying on
    foreign tourists alone it could struggle,
  despite its proximity to Ninoy Aquino
                                                 is also likely to depend on controlling capital
                                                 costs; on how highly leveraged the partners
                                                 are on the projects and what the covenants
                                                                                                   get credit still in the Philippines market.”
                                                                                                        “Pagcor has done a wonderful job in
                                                                                                   laying out the foundations for attracting
  International Airport.                         are from the lenders regarding repayment of       investors,” he adds.
       A modest 3.14 million foreigners          the interest and the principal. Last, but by no        “The proof is that ARUZE is here. Our
  visited the Philippines in 2008 according      means least, it depends on the risk appetite      partner Star Cruises has also invested here.
  to the country’s Department of Tourism.        and patience of the investors.                    In fact, Star Cruises have not only invested
  That’s a little more than one-tenth the             “From our perspective, we accept             in us, in terms of Travellers’ International [a
  number of visitors that Macau recorded in      there will be challenges in terms of              joint venture company between the two to
  the same period. The good news is that of      funding and credit tightening,” says Mr           run the hotels on the Newport City site] but
  the top four national markets delivering       Sian of Alliance Global.                          they have also decided to move their entire
  tourists to the Philippines (judged by              “But fortunately for us, we were able to     back office to the Philippines. We’re talking
  volume) three are countries with a lot of      bring in a very strong partner [at Newport        about regional surveillance, their legal
26 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
                                                                                                                                       In Focus




centre, their training centre—so that is the      Investments Corporation is through its other      holders [in the Metro Manila gaming
kind of commitment they are putting into          subsidiaries the developer and operator of        market expansion]. And SM even before
this country after they have seen the quality     the SMX Convention Center and the Mall            this has always been a firm believer in
labour we have in the Philippines. I think        of Asia near to the proposed Manila Bay           the natural talent of the Filipino people.
the incentives and the policies have already      gaming resort site.                               We hold the greatest strategic location
been well laid out by Pagcor. I think it’s time       “We have a very aggressive schedule           in the short haul market in Asia. For that
for us as investors to actually execute it, so    in terms of supporting tourism around the         reason we’ve supported the initiatives,”
we’re doing just that,” asserts Mr Sian.          country,” says Mr Yu.                             he explains.
                                                      “We want to develop the Mall of Asia as           “We’re in the process of executing
Manila Bay                                        a tourist and entertainment hub in Manila.        a development plan that will fulfil our
    “The other project we will start this         That supports Pagcor’s drive to make Manila       requirements to really achieve this dream
year is what is called the Bagong Nayong          a competitive centre that draws its fair          in the near horizon. Specifically we have
Pilipino project and we have a 40-hectare         share [of visitors] against the other short       already announced a rather large project
development there. This will be part of           haul Asian markets, including Macau and           which is a Radisson Hotel which will
a larger vision of the [Pagcor] chairman          Singapore when eventually it [the casino          augment our SMX [Convention Center]
[Efraim Genuino] in that area. We will            resort sector] opens.                             operations. We also have planned a
start this year on that project. Since                “There are fairly extensive designs           secondary hotel to support the casino
that is a larger project, it will obviously       for the casino as well as the existing SMX        operation as well as some other things in
be completed over a number of years,”             [Convention Center] which we plan to              the pipeline. We are really quite excited
explains Mr Sian.                                 expand. It is aggressive, but we are taking the   about getting started on this. When you
    Merril F. Yu, President of the Philippines    extra time to make sure that what we build is     look at the horizons past the present
company SM Hotels, part of the SM                 competitive and augments the existing Mall        financial crisis—within say a 24-month
Group, is another participant in Bagong           of Asia complex,” adds Mr Yu.                     horizon—we’d expect our operation to
Nayong Pilipino. SM’s parent company SM               “We are one of the three licence              be open.”



       Net Benefits                               A   s well as the potential
                                                      goodwill created by
  On tax at least, the Manila local resort developers
        schemes should be                         being able to raise money
                                                  locally, the tax burden
   competitive with Macau                         on the new Philippines
                                                  resort schemes will also
                                                  be lower than that found
in Macau (which comes in at just under 40% of the gross when payments
for social schemes are included). It will however be less competitive than
Singapore’s regime, where the IRs will pay 15% of gross revenue on the
main floor as direct tax, but only 5% on ‘premium’ play (i.e., that of high-
rollers and players brought in by junkets).
    Singapore will however charge its citizens and permanent residents a
fee—S$100 (US$65) per day or S$2,000 per year—to enter the IRs, while
admission for tourists will be free.
    Under the terms of reference supplied by the government-owned
operator-cum-regulator Pagcor (the Philippine Amusement and Gaming
Corporation), the new Manila resorts will pay the following taxes:
- 15% of gross gaming revenues generated from high roller tables;
- 25% of gross gaming revenues generated from non-high roller tables;
- 25% of gross gaming revenues generated from slot machines;
- 2% of total gross gaming revenues generated from both high roller
    and non-high roller tables, for the restoration of cultural heritage.
    In addition, Pagcor will charge junket operations 15% of gross
gaming revenues generated from both high roller and non-high
roller tables.
    “We are trying to come up with the best environment for our investors
and at the same time to do the best for our country,” says Rafael Francisco,
President of Pagcor.
    “The Tourism Act of 2009 means the government will definitely support
the Entertainment City and other projects in the pipeline.”
                                                                                                                  April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   27
 In Focus




      Risky Business?                             I n the Philippines
                                                    the risk factors
                                                  for investors in the
                                                                           April, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
                                                                           (OECD) in Paris named the Philippines as one of 84 ‘non-cooperating
                                                                           jurisdictions’ in relation to the transparency standards of its taxation
     Investment in the Philippines
                                                  local gaming indus-      laws. Within days, though, the Philippines had been taken off the list
           gaming industry                        try include not just     after the organisation said the country had committed to meeting
      may require some appetite                   the standard mar-        the OECD’s policy guidelines.
            for adventure                         ket question of ‘Will
                                                  they (the custom-        Risk factors
                                                  ers) come?’ but also         Political and regulatory risks remain for investors in the
 political and regulatory issues.                                          Philippines market. On 1st April the country’s lower national
     The Philippines is by no means universally regarded around the        legislature, the house of Representatives, passed to the nation’s
 world as either a stable or as an exemplary jurisdiction when it comes    Senate a bill requiring, quote: “that all the funds and transactions of
 to financial matters. This may account for why the investors in the       Pagcor including revenues, income and expenditures, be examined
 two Manila projects are all East Asian or Southeast Asian institutions,   by the country’s Commission on Audit (CoA).”
 namely: Malaysia’s Star Cruises; ARUZE Corp., a gaming equipment              The CoA has been involved in some auditing of Pagcor for
 maker and operator with roots in Japan; Alliance Global Group and         years. What was significant about this bill is that it seeks to amend
 SM Investments Corporation, both based in the Philippines. They all       Presidential Decree No. 1869 issued by former president Ferdinand
 presumably have a greater insight into local market and regulatory        Marcos. That decree currently limits CoA audits to ensuring that
   conditions than would Western companies.                                the government’s cut—i.e., 5% in franchise tax and 50% of gross
            At Asia’s GEM, the gaming industry congress and expo held      earnings—is fully accounted for. If the new bill becomes law then
                      annually in early April by Pagcor, guest speakers    in future (possibly as a result of pressure from international bodies
                                   were generally full of praise for       such as the OECD), the auditors will be able to shine a light over every
                                          Newport City and for Bagong      corner of the Pagcor books. Given what the CoA has found in the
                                                Nayong Pilipino.           Pagcor figures previously even under its existing limited mandate,
                                                        But even before    the results are unlikely to be very pretty.
                                                      Asia’s GEM had
                                                        closed its doors   Audit evidence
                                                              on     3rd        CoA documents seen by Inside Asian Gaming and issued after the
                                                                           Commission’s audit of Pagcor’s accounts for 2007 under its existing
                                                                           mandate reveal an alarming pattern of lax regulation, non-payment
                                                                           of tax, overspending and unauthorised enhancement of employment
                                                                           benefit packages. These issues and the legislators’ external pressure
                                                                           to implement a full audit on Pagcor must call into question just how
                                                                           committed Pagcor really is to reform from within.
                                                                                Take this example from a CoA document titled:
                                                                           “Status of Implementation by Auditee of Prior Year’s Audit
                                                                            Recommendations”. The document, relating to the 2007 audit of
                                                                             Pagcor by the Commission (the most recent currently publicly
                                                                              available), is divided vertically into three columns reading from
                                                                                  left to right: “Audit Observations”; “Recommendations” and
                                                                                    “Actions Taken/Comments”
                                                                                         One audit topic reads: “Cash dividends from Pagcor’s
                                                                                     net earnings for calendar years 2005 and 2006 not remitted
                                                                                     to national government.” Next to this is the auditor’s
                                                                                     advice: “We have recommended that Pagcor comply with
                                                                                    RA 7656 (the relevant Republic Act) and its implementing
                                                                                 rules and regulations to remit annually the 50 percent cash
                                                                              dividends of Pagcor net earnings to the national government to
                                                                           avoid penalty charges and criminal liabilities.” Under the “Actions
                                                                           Taken/Comments” column is the bald statement in bold type: “Not
                                                                           Implemented”, followed by an explanation: “Pagcor reiterated
                                                                           its position that it is not covered by the memorandum on the
                                                                           maximization of dividend payments to the national government
                                                                           by GOCCs [Government Owned and Controlled Corporations] and
                                                                           GFIs [Government Financial Institutions] citing the same grounds
                                                                           invoked in Pagcor’s exemption from RA 7656. Pagcor sent a letter
                                                                           to the Office of the President concerning the proper interpretation
     INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
28
                                                                                                                                         In Focus




of RA 7656. The Office of the President referred the letter to the             halving of Pagcor’s previously stated net income for the year.
Department of Finance.”                                                            “Recasting Pagcor’s 2007 Statement of Income and Expenses
    The fact that Pagcor appears in these documents to be                      based on CoA’s position on what constitutes gross earnings will
conducting negotiations over its tax liabilities direct with                   result in a 52.39% decline in Pagcor’s net income and a cash loss
the President of the Republic must raise questions about its                   of PHP776,703,081.91 [US$16.3 million]. In any case, pending
potential exposure to hostile regulatory action by politicians in              final resolution of the cases before the Supreme Court there can
the country’s Senate.                                                          be no definitive finding on the matter, with Pagcor, CoA and the
                                                                               Department of Finance/Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) having
Give and take                                                                  different positions on the issue.”
     Experts on tax law and tax compliance would no doubt point out
there’s generally more room for negotiation between governments                Worries
and big corporations over tax payment than there is between                         This kind of regulatory uncertainty would probably get the due
governments and average individuals. In other words, governments               diligence teams of most foreign investors reaching for a bottle of
always push corporations to pay more, and companies return the                 strong liquor. Time will tell whether sufficient safeguards and rigour
favour by seeking loopholes and favoured status. In that respect,              can be injected into the system to turn investment in the Philippines’
Pagcor may only be doing what businesses across the world try                  new generation of casino resorts from a wild card play to a blue chip
every day. The difficulty for investors in Philippines gaming projects         investment.
is the current relative lack of transparency in relation to Pagcor’s tax            Mikio Tanji of ARUZE is upbeat though about the prospects of the
liabilities. It makes it difficult to anticipate what Pagcor’s tax liability   Manila projects.
will be in a year or 18 months’ time and whether any new liabilities                “Our aim in Manila is to try to reach the best and the most
as established by the courts or the legislature will be passed on to           sophisticated customer all over the world here in Manila Bay,”
the investors.                                                                 he says.
     Perhaps the most damning revelation of all made by the                         “Although we are a shareholder in Wynn Resorts we would like
Commission on Audit team when looking at Pagcor’s books for                    to surpass Wynn Resorts. We would like to combine the hospitality
2007 was an admission by Pagcor that if accounting standards                   people here in the Philippines with Japanese sense of service and
recommended by the Commission were adopted, it would mean a                    design. I think we can achieve this.”




                                                                                                                                                    29
  Feature




                         Sporting Chance
                                      Officials call for China betting reform




                                          A
                                                  ranking member of China’s governing         service providers. China has however in
                                                  communist party has suggested               recent years allowed private enterprise
                                                  liberalising China’s tough laws on          ventures such a Melco and AGTech to set
                                          gambling, in order to raise extra cash for social   up their own distribution chain of shops
                                          causes during the economic downturn.                in major Chinese cities to sell branded
                                               The official cited the example of Hong         lottery products.
                                          Kong. The Hong Kong Jockey Club, the                    Since the process of economic reform
                                          only legally sanctioned provider of betting         instigated by Mao Zedong’s successor Deng
                                          services in the former British colony,              Xiaoping in the late 1970s, the Consultative
                                          dramatically increased its revenues and             Conference has frequently been used as
                                          depressed those of illegal syndicates after         a testing ground for new and sometimes
                                          allowing betting on live football matches in        radical ideas before their wide scale adoption
                                          2001. Between the 2003-04 season and the            as state policy.
                                          2006-07 season, the tax take from regulated             “There are lots of types of lottery in
                                          football betting in Hong Kong rose 64.3%            Britain and the U.S., can we see any harm? As
                                          from HK$1.65 billion (US$210 million) to            long as it is well legislated, there is not much
                                          HK$2.71 billion (US$350 million).                   harm,” added Mr Yang.
                                               The starting point for reform in China             He appears at present to have momentum
                                          may be a shake up of the legal lottery.             on his side. China’s sports ministry recently
                                               “Our present lottery games are monoto-         sanctioned a horse race meeting in Wuhan—
                                          nous,” said Yang Jingzhi, a Hebei delegate to       the pre-revolution home of the sport—as an
                                          the recent Chinese People’s Political Consul-       experiment, although cash betting was not
                                          tative Conference—sometimes referred to             allowed.
                                          as ‘China’s parliament’. The comments came              It may, however, need a critical mass of
                                          during the Beijing gathering during a discus-       influential voices higher up in government
                                          sion panel on sport.                                before any tipping point is reached in favour
                                               “I suggest we deregulate the lottery,”         of change. There are signs this may be
                                          said Mr Yang, adding for good measure:              happening.
                                          “We should fully introduce international                “We are facing a problem that
                                          practices, such as betting on horses, ‘mark         underground casinos and overseas gambling
                                          six’ and various others.”                           have dangerously broken in, taking an
                                               China’s state lotteries—the welfare            estimate ten times as much as our official
                                          lottery and the sports lottery—have actually        lottery,” deputy sports minister Wang Jun
                                          modernised their offer to players in recent         told the same meeting.
                                          years. Pooled fund products such as Power               “In Hong Kong, where the legal lottery
                                          Ball and Big Lotto, offering high payouts           is well developed, the official business is
                                          but long odds, have proved a hit with               ten times as big as the private ones,” added
                                          consumers.                                          Mr Wang.
                                               Introducing new lottery products is                Mr Wang said China’s official lottery alone
                                          not though quite the same as general                currently employed 300,000 ticket sellers
                                          liberalisation of the market, which tends           around the country.
                                          to imply in the West an ending of state                 “The sports industry in the short term
                                          monopolies and an opening of the market             can help maintain stable economic growth
                                          to private enterprise. There are no signs so        and employment,” he stated.
                                          far that the Chinese government has any                 Gambling was banned in mainland China
                                          plans to allow wholesale franchising of its         after the communist takeover in 1949, the
                                          vast domestic markets to private gaming             exceptions being the two state lotteries.

30 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
31
  Bally




                                         Quick Time
                             Bally steps up its video reel games offer in Asia and beyond




  B
         ally Technologies’ ALPHA Operating System for slots claims          the largest suppliers on the floors there, and it’s one of the largest
         bragging rights as the first in the industry to support both        markets in Asia for steppers and reels,” he explains.
         video and mechanical reel-spinning games.                               “Our strategy in our Asian markets is to continue to roll out the
      Now the market-proven and famously stable ALPHA OS has                 Hot Shot game series and Quick Hits steppers, which are our two
  moved to the next phase of development by offering virtual reel            flagship game series, followed by the Platinum series.
  spinners in both stepper and non-stepper format on a video slot                “In Macau we have rolled out Quick Hit Platinum to the Grand
  screen. Given that Las Vegas-based Bally has roots dating back to          Lisboa, Wynn Macau and Venetian Macau and are pleased with the
  1932, it opens up the possibility of offering in video format all manner   early results,” adds Mr Connelly.
  of reel games from the company’s vast library—but with bonusing                “The Philippines is one of our key growth markets where Hot
  and levels of functionality never dreamt of by previous generations        Shot has enjoyed terrific success. We have just started rolling out
  of reel players.                                                           our Quick Hit stepper and are seeing strong performance from
      One of the pulse-quickening Alpha OS-based video product               this series”.
  groups Bally will be showing off at G2E Asia in June is its Quick Hit™         At the recent International Gaming Expo 2009 in London, Bally
  series of five reel games packaged in the company’s striking 32-inch       demonstrated its Quick Hit Playboy Platinum game, the latest in its
  V32 video cabinet.                                                         stable of Playboy branded products, and which includes a bonus
      “We took the math of the mechanical spinning reels and we put          round with a video display of Playmate models. The company
  it onto a video version, which is doing extremely well,” says John J.      also exhibited Quick Hit Diamond—the follow-up to the Quick Hit
  Connelly, Vice President, International and Gaming Operations.             Platinum format. In Quick Hit Diamond various scattered symbols
                                                                             lead to one of five progressive jackpots, ranging from a few dollars
  Pan-Asian appeal                                                           to a top jackpot measured in the thousands of dollars. Quick Hit
      “We’re looking to place them in South Korea. We are one of             Diamond, like its predecessor, features a frequently hitting jackpot,
32 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
that returns a progressive in the hundreds of dollars on average
every few thousand spins.
     There’s a long-standing debate among gaming equipment
manufacturers serving Asia as to whether progressive or volatile
games are most popular with players. Bally understands though
that the ‘Asian’ market is not uniform but rather multi-dimensional,
both in terms of territories and customer segments within territories.
Different game styles appeal to different segments. In any case video
slot technology may be rendering the progressive versus volatile
debate less relevant than it once was.
     Quick Hit games for example are essentially progressives, but
thanks to video technology, a product with progressive game logic
can be made even more exciting by introducing volatile elements
to the bonusing system. And even within the progressive format,
individual games can be tweaked to become more or less volatile.
Bally’s Quick Hit five-reel, five-level progressive games Amber Rays,
Gold Storm, Silver Rain and Starlight Fire, for example, have overall
hit frequencies ranging from 48.49% for Amber Rays and Gold Storm,
to 31.51% for Starlight Fire.

Games inside games
     “What makes Quick Hit a success is you can win free games with
more free games inside them. Players really seem to like that. We
also offer a multi-tier progressive with free games,” points out Mr
Connelly.
     “Progressives are certainly very successful in parts of Asia, but
more and more players seem to be looking for games where they
may not win as often but when they do they are winning a significant
amount,” he adds.
     ALPHA OS distinguished itself early on as a system that operates
completely separately from game applications. This modular
approach has allowed Bally to develop and market new games more
efficiently and speedily without having to redesign the OS each time.
ALPHA OS was from the beginning engineered to support server-
based gaming initiatives, including download of game results,
configuration and game content.




The Quick Hit Diamond is a follow-up to the Quick Hit Platinum format
                                                                         April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   33
  Bally




      Bally’s continuous desire to combine slot product innovation
  with delivery via a proven and stable platform is a key element
  in meeting and even exceeding operators’ expectations, says
  the company. The same principle applies to other areas of Bally’s
  gaming equipment offer, states Mr Connelly.
      “Bally is very diversified. We have a footprint of more than
  50,000 units worldwide where we derive some kind of a daily fee,”
  he explains.

  All systems go
      “We are also the global leader in systems. Bally iVIEW as we
  know is proven with installations in approximately 180,000 units
  worldwide. With Bally Business Intelligence it’s a new product but
  a proven technology that we are actively marketing. We have just
  started to install it in a number of locations. Under the Bally brand
  we are now interfacing that with our systems in the U.S. initially
  and now getting ready to expand that internationally. It’s going
  to be a great tool in a downward economy to help our customers,
  at relatively low cost, potentially to generate increased revenue,”
  adds Mr Connelly.
      Diversification has also been achieved by strong sales outside
  core markets in North America he says.
      “Our ship share—i.e., the percentage of new orders being
  placed by casinos versus their floor footprint, always a good
  indicator—has gone up considerably over the past few years.
  And our international growth has gone up over the last three
  years at an average of over 30% per year. That in itself has helped
  diversification,” points out Mr Connelly.

  Support for the bottom line
      He says, however, that growth in Asia and elsewhere has been
  pursued with a careful eye on controlling costs and maintaining and
  enhancing profitability.
      “Where our competitors may have been in markets for years and
  may have been deriving large sums of revenue in many areas and
  built up large infrastructures, we are at something of an advantage
  by being a relative latecomer in some emerging markets. Our
  [corporate] infrastructure is very lean.
      “It’s enabled us to optimise available capital by for example
  working with our key customers in arranging finance terms for them.
  This will help to see us and the industry through this challenging
  period,” says Mr Connelly.
      “We will continue to build and grow based on the success
  of Quick Hit, Quick Hit Platinum and Hot Shot throughout Asia           John Connelly, Vice President, International and Gaming Operations,
  Pacific.”                                                               Bally Technologies, next to the Quick Hit Playboy Platinum




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34 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   35
  MPEL




                                                         Loyalty — The
                                                           Big Picture
                                                     There’s another picture of customer loyalty based on
                                                         research that spans industries and countries
                                                   and explores beyond what your casino can know about its
                                                             customers by using your internal data




  E
        very casino wants loyal customers,         of customer loyalty based on research that      the “commitment” factor. Behavioral loyalty
        but few casino customers are loyal. So     spans industries and countries and explores     means you have their business today, but if a
        each month casinos send mail offers to     beyond what your casino can know about          casino opened closer to them they’d defect
  their players club data base, conduct some       its customers by using your internal data.      in a New York second. Attitudinal loyalty
  promotions and keep their fingers crossed.       The umbrella topic is “consumer buying          means you’ve really hooked the customers’
  Oh, there’s a lot of math involved so it seems   behavior,” and under that we find loyalty       emotions. Research that measures loyalty
  pretty scientific and research-oriented.         programs such as casino players clubs.          typically looks at both sides. Ideally, we want
  Especially when you have a tiered club           While general consumer research on loyalty      customers who are not only repeat visitors
  with different offers based on theoretical       programs is plentiful, not a lot of academic    but who tell others what a fun place we
  win and reinvestment ratios and return on        research has focused on casinos, but some       are, how friendly they’re treated, and how
  investment and data base analysis. Yep, it       of the principles are the same whether you’re   we’re their favorite place to go. That’s a loyal
  sounds scientific and smart as hell when         American Airlines or Harrah’s.                  customer.
  your marketing department starts throwing            First, it’s defining just what you mean          Research also shows that some loyalty
  those kinds of figures around.                   by “loyalty”. The standard definition is        programs are successful while others
       That’s the small picture of customer        repeat-buying behavior because repeat           fail, so it’s important to understand what
  loyalty—what’s happening in your casino          business means more money to the bottom         motivates your customers. Several studies of
  based on win per unit, head counts, repeat       line and more efficient use of marketing        airline frequent-flier programs reveal some
  visitation, direct-mail redemption patterns      dollars. Research, however, has shown that      interesting aspects that also apply to casino
  and maybe even exit surveys or focus             loyalty actually consists of two distinct       players clubs. A 2000 study conducted by
  groups.                                          constructs—behavioral, which is the repeat-     Mary M. Long and Leon G. Schiffman and
       But there’s another and bigger picture      buying behavior, and attitudinal, which is      published in Journal of Consumer Marketing
36 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
                                                                                                                                   Marketing




used six behavioral variables to segment          news for casinos, which exemplify the Pareto    Value” models to develop a segmented
consumers, such as how many round trips           Principle that 20 percent of customers          model of a casino players club based on how
were flown in the past 12 months. They also       account for 80 percent of business.             club membership affected behavior and
used six commitment variables to test loyalty.        Applying this principle to your own         loyalty over time. It segmented members
The study determined that the three most          players club means that you use the data        by annual spending as being either “low,
relevant variables were number of round           you already have to identify your most          moderate” or “high” and found that the
trips flown in a year, number of program          profitable player segment, which is the         high spenders were the group that valued
rewards used and commitment. Based on             high-frequency, high-spending customer.         club membership most. Many low spenders
how they rated these variables, members           Rather than spreading your finite resources     reported that they would visit the casino
were assigned individually to six different       and personnel assets across the entire data     even if it didn’t have a players club.
groups for further analysis: “superficial         base, focus on your bonded customers to             Since casinos usually require membership
consumers,         dreamers,     disinterested    keep them loyal. If you don’t have prestige     to participate in promotions, they’re forcing
consumers,       opportunistic     consumers,     awards in place, such as VIP lines at the       a segment of their data base to be members
hoarders” and “bonded consumers”.                 buffet, consider what you can do to add         even though this group has very little
     Each of the six relationship groups          preferred-status benefits to your most          potential to be developed into loyal players.
had distinct characteristics based on their       profitable segment.                             The end result is that the casino’s marketing
purchase behavior with the airline, their             And what about the little guy? That $20-    resources are diluted since marketing dollars
use of the frequency-program benefits             per-visit player who comes once a week to       are being allocated to players who will
and their commitment to the airline. The          use his coupon, enter the drawing and get       never be loyal, leaving less to spend on the
first group—“superficial consumers” with          the half-price seniors lunch offer? Research    players who can be developed into loyal and
low usage and no commitment—is of the             shows you shouldn’t be too concerned            profitable customers.
lowest value to a business. The sixth group       about him. He’s not loyal and you’re buying         Consider the big picture when you’re
of “bonded consumers” has high purchase           his business for a hefty fee. Each casino has   fine-tuning your players club in the
behavior, frequently uses rewards and is          different formulas for their offers. But make   hope that it will turn members into loyal
committed to the airline.                         sure you’re including every cost associated     customers. Are you focusing on the segment
     The bonded group was the only group          with this player.                               that is most profitable and has the potential
that attached importance to the status of             A 2003 study using data over a four-year    to develop commitment to your casino? And
their membership in the program. This group       period from a large Midwest casino showed       are the club benefits you’re offering to this
believes that it is an important social benefit   that a high percentage of members in the        group the ones they will value most because
to impress others by their use of frequent-       players club data base were potentially         they afford them prestige and preferred
flier miles, and they respond to prestige         unprofitable and should not be targeted         status? Loyalty program research shows that
awards and preferred-status benefits.             for any marketing initiatives. Using data       many programs, including those of casinos,
     The study concludes that a frequency         from the casino, the study showed that          aren’t strategically generating loyalty and
program only achieves the expected reaction       costs of membership actually increased          are wasting precious marketing dollars.
from a minority of customers, but these           over time, an element that many casinos
“bonded” customers are the most profitable        may not be building into their annual              By Debra Hilgeman. Reprinted with
for any company since they are the heaviest       financial models.                               permission from International Gaming and
purchasers and the most loyal. This is good           The study looked at “Customer Lifetime      Wagering Business (IGWB) magazine.




                                                                                                                 April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   37
              Tonic
                for                                                    Nagaworld at Phnom Penh, Cambodia




               Elixir
                                                                           EGT’s primary business is the placement of gaming machines on
                                                                       a revenue share model in three, four and five star resorts, hotels, and
                                                                       other venues across emerging gaming markets in the Asia Pacific
                                                                       region. In its results for the financial year ended 31st December 2008,
                                                                       EGT said it expected growth in the Philippines market in 2009 as
                                                                       well as expansion of capacity at NagaWorld would help to offset the
                                                                       closure of its own Phnom Penh slot clubs.
                                                                           EGT added it has a total of six venues and 1,029 installed units
                                                                       currently in operation, comprised of five venues in the Philippines
                                                                       with a total of 829 installed units, plus the NagaWorld operation.
                                                                           Total net revenue from machines on participation declined 7%
                                                                       from the third quarter of 2008 to US$1 million in Q4 ’08.
 There may at least be a silver-plated if not                              The company gave advance notice though of a positive trend for
                                                                       the first quarter of 2009. It says the net win per day per machine at its
 solid silver lining to the cloud caused
                                                                       NagaWorld slot facility—branded Premier Club—rose 216.6%% from
 by the disappearance                                                  US$54 in February to US$171 in the first half of March. And that’s
 of Phnom Penh’s slot club market                                      against a background of a 36.9% increase in the number of machines
                                                                       EGT had installed at NagaWorld since February.
                                                                           “The customer response to the Premier Club is encouraging as
                                                                       net win per day per machine averaged US$54 during the month of
                                                                       February on an average machine count of 146 and ramped up to


 E
       lixir Gaming Technologies, Inc. appears to have been the        US$171 for the first 15 days in March on an average machine count
       most fleet footed of the operators in the Cambodian capital’s   of 182. Reflecting this demand, we recently expanded the number
       once-thriving club scene. Seeing the way things were going      of machines on the floor at the Premier Club and currently have
 politically following the accidental death of Phnom Penh’s police     200 machines in operation at this facility,” said Clarence Chung,
 chief in November, by early January EGT had signed a deal with        Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in a commentary on the
 NagaCorp to operate slot machines on a revenue share basis in         2008 results.
 the latter’s NagaWorld Casino in Phnom Penh. Hong Kong-listed             Good news in the first quarter of 2009 however did not deflect
 NagaCorp is insulated from all the political and regulatory turmoil   general concern about the company’s medium to long term
 recently surrounding Cambodia’s gambling industry, as it has an       prospects in a recession hit market.
 exclusive and currently unlimited 70-year casino licence within 200       EGT is clawing its way toward break even, posting a much more
 kilometers of the capital.                                            respectable net loss of US$27.0 million, or US$0.23 per share for fiscal
     The deal meant that by the time the final clamp down on Phnom     2008, compared to a net loss of US$234.6 million or US$4.55 per
 Penh’s 70 slot clubs came in February, EGT was able to relocate       share for fiscal 2007. However when the one-off effects of a US$214
 equipment from its three slot clubs in the capital and mitigate       million refinancing exercise in 2007 are discounted, then EGT’s net
 potential losses.                                                     operational loss for 2008 is actually up slightly on 2007.
38
                                                                                                                                                Elixir




    Revenues from gaming machines on participation were                     Shuffler, the ShufflePro Shuffler and the DeckChecker, to Shuffle
approximately US$1.0 million in Q4 ’08 compared to revenues of              Master Inc.
US$1.1 million in Q3 ’08 and US$0.3 million in Q4 ‘07. EGT’s total              EGT’s total revenues for fiscal 2008 increased to US$12.3 million
revenues for Q4 ‘08 were US$2.1 million compared to US$3.6                  from US$12.2 million in fiscal 2007 as incremental growth in revenues
million in the third quarter of 2008 and US$2.6 million for the             from gaming machines on participation and growth in non gaming
fourth quarter of 2007.                                                     operations offset declines in the legacy table game business.
    The company said the quarterly sequential decline in revenues               Looking ahead to the rest of 2009, EGT said it was instituting
reflected what it called “softness” in its legacy casino table games        further cost savings, including the closure of its Macau and U.S. offices
business. It added that in February this year that business had been        and China manufacturing plant, a reduction in the size of its Hong
sold off. This is understood to be a reference to a deal last month         Kong and Cambodia offices, and agreeing to voluntary reductions
where EGT sold its intellectual property related to card shuffling          in salary for senior executives. It expected the measures to produce
and card deck checking equipment, including the RandomPlus                  savings of US$3 million in Q2 2009 and US$2.5 million in Q3 ’09.




                                    Russian roulette
       More tantalising snippets have reached IAG re: the fallout from the great Phnom
                                Penh slot club market implosion

   I t seems a couple of Russian
     entrepreneurs were left
   mightily disappointed after
   the Cambodian capital’s slot
   clubs were placed under lock
   and key by the government
   in a crack down on gambling
   by locals.
        Overnight they found
   that thousands of US dollars-
   worth of gaming equipment
   they owned or had leased to
   third parties was suddenly
   out of reach. And all this
   at a time when businesses
   everywhere need all the
   liquidity they can get.
        An American company
   faced with this kind of
   problem would in all
   likelihood get on the phone
   to its lawyers or to the US
   Embassy to see if any arms
   could be (legally) twisted.
        In Russia, the direct approach is more in fashion. Russian business people are by definition not shrinking violets. You need a thick
   skin, good political contacts and in some cases a set of body armour to make any headway in a post-Soviet economy.
        IAG understands several of these demi-oligarchs hatched a scheme to snatch back their equipment at night from locked
   premises. The plan was about to swing into action—until it was pointed out that they would in all likelihood have to face the wrath
   of an armed and potentially dangerous group—i.e., the local police. The boys in tall peaked hats and sunglasses were already
   reportedly ticked off at the loss of a lucrative source of unofficial ‘tax’ from the capital’s gambling industry after the unfortunate
   accidental death of their commander.
        IAG’s sources suggest this was the sort of ‘law enforcement’ scenario that Russians—schooled in the world of business negotiation
   occasionally featuring armed back up—could understand. They decided to relent and try a different tack.
        There’s a general rule in developing countries (sorry, ‘emerging markets’) that the level of accountability of public servants is inversely
   proportional to the number of people in uniform actually on the streets. By that measure, the Russian traders were probably wise to hold
   off and seek a negotiated settlement for the return of their kit.

                                                                                                                      April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   39
40 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
                                                                                                                                            IGT




                                            Glass Act
        Are they reels? Are they video slots? REELdepth™ games are all that and more,
                                     says IGT’s Kurt Quartier




S
       erver-based slot gaming has been
       heralded more times than a mediaeval
       king on royal progress. In the midst of
all the trumpet blowing by commentators,
though, it’s easy to overlook an important
fact.     Leading       gaming     equipment
manufacturers such as International Game
Technology (IGT) are constantly introducing
technology innovations at casino floor level
to enhance existing games and existing
cabinet types.
     In other words, their products are not
only server-based ready but also packed
with preloaded functions and content to
an extent unthinkable only a few years ago.
That’s thanks to the increasing sophistication
of onboard processors and programming,
plus in IGT’s case, its industry-leading glass
screen technology.
     IGT’s REELdepth™ games use Multi-Layer
Display® technology, which enables what is
essentially a video slot machine to look and
behave like a traditional mechanical or semi-
mechanical reel unit. It does this by giving a
three dimensional appearance to what is in
reality a flat glass screen.
                                                     IGT says REELdepth, which caused a buzz     video bonusing not previously available on
                                                 at G2E 2008 in Las Vegas last November, will    mechanical or semi-mechanical reels.
                                                 be on show during G2E Asia 2009 held at The          “In reel mode it behaves like a traditional
                                                 Venetian Macao in June.                         reel machine, but when you trigger a bonus,
                                                     “The REELdepth cabinet is a new             the power of video comes into play, which
                                                 technology—to take traditional reel slots,      technically speaking takes you into a whole
                                                 which are doing very well in Asia—into a        different level of functionality compared to
                                                 server based world,” explains Kurt Quartier,    traditional reel games,” explains Mr Quartier.
                                                 Vice President, International Casino Markets.        “Previously, when people thought about
                                                                                                 reels, they used to think about the old three-
                                                 In depth                                        reel, one to three coin multiplier slot games.
                                                     The 3-D graphics that can be shown on       They were pretty boring, you couldn’t do any
                                                 IGT’s proprietary REELdepth™ glass allow        bonusing, you couldn’t win any free games
                                                 display of anything from three- to five-        etc. With today’s technology you can do
                                                 reel games in a digital ‘virtual’ format that   exactly the same sort of things on a reel as
                                                 looks and plays uncannily like a traditional    you can on a video. The next step is to take
                                                 mechanical or semi-mechanical unit. Not         it into a server-based world where we can
                                                 only can the REELdepth cabinet deliver          change the player experience,” he adds.
                                                 traditional looking games in a virtual way,          Technological and content development
                                                 but because it’s based on the latest video      has already helped IGT win a wide range of
                                                 slot technology it can also support the         industry awards, including Honourable
                                                 kinds of additional video features and          Mention for Best Standalone Game in the
                                                                                                                                                41
  IGT




  Inside Asian Gaming – Supplier Awards 2009       demographics or to maximise appeal            the REELdepth cabinet is already extremely
  announced shortly before the International       to players at certain times of day. This is   strong and has got even stronger in tough
  Gaming Expo in London earlier this year.         especially important in making every penny    economic times,” says Mr Quartier.
                                                   work for the business during challenging           “People will always be looking for
  American launch                                  economic times. The optical wizardry of       machines that are flexible, innovative and
       “We recently released the REELdepth         the REELdepth cabinet is extended to a 3-D    perform well across a range of functions.
  cabinet in the U.S. and the early figures are    service screen displayed below the reels,     The Macau market may have slowed down a
  extremely encouraging,” says Mr Quartier.        which can be set up to advertise a range of   little, but the rest of the Asian markets have
       “The product will be at G2E Asia and        price denominations.                          not. There are good opportunities here in the
  might even be released and in the field [in          “We think the business proposition of     region,” he states.
  Macau] before then.
       “We know that Asian players in particular
  like reel games. It doesn’t take players long
  to understand them and they feel they can
  trust them, though obviously as the industry
  ups reel games to 20 or even 50 lines they
  become more complex,” he adds.
       When the display on an IGT REELdepth-
  configured unit is set to a reel game, the
  flat glass screen comes uncannily alive. The
  player would almost swear there were real
  metallic wheels spinning inside the cabinet.
  This remarkable optical and auditory
  illusion even stretches as far as recreating
  the characteristic ‘bounce’ of a suddenly
  stopped reel that dedicated slot players of a
  certain age will associate with the old semi-
  mechanicals.
       “If you compare that to some of our
  competitors, several have made machines
  that can do something a little similar—with
  one major difference. What in effect they’ve
  done is similar to cutting holes into an LCD
  so that you can see the [mechanical] reel. But
  once you do that, you reduce the potential of
  the unit,” explains Mr Quartier.
       “We, by contrast, can turn a three-reel
  game into a four-reel into a five-reel game.
  We can change it into a full video display as
  well,” he adds.

  Value bet
      The fact the REELdepth cabinet can
  double as a display platform for orthodox
  video slot games dramatically increases
  the range of content that can be offered to
  players via one unit. Users of REELdepth units
  already have the option of selecting from a
  range of game content options preloaded
  onto the machines. Once the units are linked
  to receive downloads from a remote server,
  the player options will be even greater.
      When REELdepth’s display flexibility is
  teamed up with server-based downloading
  and management functions, it will boost
  further the value proposition of the
  cabinet. Operators will have the ability to
  change the game mix to suit certain visitor      Kurt Quartier

42 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   43
  Briefs




  Regional Briefs
                                                                                   The company suspended construction projects in Las Vegas
                                                                               and Macau in order to concentrate on its Marina Bay Sands resort in
                                                                               Singapore and a casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
                                                                                   LVS says it is on schedule to open its US$5.4 billion Singapore
                                                                               casino at the end of 2009 in a “fully funded” position, Mr Weaver
  The Cost of Going Local                                                      said. Rental prices at the retail component of Marina Bay Sands, the
      The number of migrant workers in Macau fell 11.6% by the end of          Singapore resort now under construction, have been “pulled down to
  December from an all-time peak in September 2008. This matters to            adjust to the market,” he added.
  gaming investors because Macau residents are typically paid a fifth
  more than migrants, according to the government’s own statistics.            Jail for Casino Scam Duo
      If Macau’s gaming market is actually shrinking then of course                 Three men have been jailed in Hong Kong for trying to blackmail
  it makes sense to reduce overheads, and the wage bill is the most            a university student out of HK$650,000 after he fell for a casino scam
  obvious target. Getting rid of migrant workers may not be the most           in Macau.
  cost effective and operationally efficient way of proceeding.                     The court heard To Ngo-bond, aged 23, sold the use of his bank
      Although locals have been relatively insulated from layoffs,             account to the swindlers for money laundering purposes and that
  non-residents workers involved in the running and construction of            more than HK$6 million passed through it.
  gaming projects were laid of en masse in the fourth quarter of 2008.              Mr To and a friend were at a gaming table in the Wynn Macau
  The number of non-resident workers in Macau had risen steadily from          casino last July when a man who claimed to be a casino promoter
  22,929, at the end of the first quarter of 2003, to 104,281, at the end of   approached them. He persuaded them to take out a club membership
  the third quarter of 2008. The majority of new imported workers were         offering free ferry tickets, hotel accommodation and sauna services.
  employed in the casino, hotel and construction industries.                   Mr To was then talked into going to the nearby Casino Lisboa with the
      At the end of the third quarter 2008, 23,466 non-resident workers        man and an accomplice. There Mr To was provided with betting chips
  were employed in the gaming sector, including 15,878 construction            and proceeded to rack up what he was told amounted to HK$650,000
  workers employed by casino operators. In one fell swoop, Las Vegas           in losses.
  Sands Corp dismissed 9,000 non-resident construction workers in                   Some time later the men visited Mr To at his Hong Kong home,
  November, which, along with cuts in expensive expatriate casino              where they told his mother to pay the ‘debt’ but she kept them talking
  managers, led to the number of non-resident workers employed in              and called the police instead.
  the gaming sector plunging to 10,723 in the fourth quarter of 2008,               In sentencing, the judge said the scam was common in Macau
  including just 4,017 construction workers employed by casinos.               and required an extensive network both there and in Hong Kong to
  This finally halted the inexorable rise in the number of non-resident        carry out.
  workers in Macau, which slid to 92,161 in the fourth quarter.
      It’s difficult to see, though, how casinos can square the circle         New Casino for Sikkim
  of cutting costs while clinging to that part of the workforce that
  costs the most to maintain. Like-for-like substitution of migrants
  by locals seems an unlikely option as it would dramatically
  increase overheads.

  Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
       LVS shares gained 18% on news that the company may resume
  building on its mothballed Cotai projects this calendar year.
       The operative word is ‘may’. We may all win seven-figure sums on
  the Hong Kong lottery next week, but it doesn’t mean we will.
       Talking up your company’s stock price and then using it as a
  leveraging tool with your existing creditors and potential investors
  isn’t a crime. But if you want to guarantee a sustained recovery of
  your company’s fortunes then you need to pay heed to fundamentals.           Sikkim
  And the markets are currently very focused on ‘deliverables,’ to use a            The landlocked Indian mountain state of Sikkim has launched a
  popular piece of management jargon. In the presently jumpy trading           foreigners-only casino in a bid to boost tourism.
  conditions share prices can only make sustained recoveries if analysts            With an annual increase of 20% in tourist arrivals in recent years,
  and investors see hard evidence to back up the warm words.                   Sikkim is the only state in the country offering land based live casino
       “We have to get construction back to work as quickly as possible,”      facilities to tourists. Goa’s gaming is currently limited to a casino ship
  Stephen Weaver, President of LVS’s Asian operations told reporters at        and a small number of gaming machines in luxury hotels.
  a briefing in Hong Kong.                                                          The first casino was opened at the Royal Plaza hotel and was
       Mr Weaver added Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore are still “very          named ‘Casino Sikkim’.
  privileged” locations for the resort business in the long term.                   Naresh Subba, Chief Executive Officer of Casino Sikkim, said the
       LVS lost 94% of its market value last year following the global         State Government’s assistance had made it possible to open the
  credit crisis and negative news about China’s restriction on the             casino in the state.
  issuing of visas for Macau to Chinese citizens.                                   “The Sikkim Government has trusted us and have given me the
44 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
                                                                                                                                            Briefs




responsibility to come up with the casino and then to attract the          for Cambodia was around US$70, whereas in Macau it was between
tourists,” says Mr Subba.                                                  US$130 and US$250 and in the Philippines between US$100 and
    Besides boosting the economy of the region through tourism,            US$180.
the casino is also creating employment opportunities, says the                 Mr Chuah said the company was also looking to build margins by
government.                                                                assembling more equipment on behalf of third party companies.

Domestic Online Gaming Ban?                                                Melco’s 2008 Loss Led by Write Downs
     A Philippines politician has called for a ban on domestic online           Melco International Development Corp., the Hong Kong-listed
gambling in the country, according to a report published by Online-        gaming investment vehicle chaired by Lawrence Ho, recorded a net
Casinos.com.                                                               loss last year of HK$2.36 billion, compared with a profit of HK$2.69
     The move would not affect the Philippines-based offshore online       billion a year earlier. Sales also fell 32% to HK$690.86 million.
gaming industry. The country is the only jurisdiction in Asia with a            Melco booked a so-called ‘impairment loss’ of HK$1.86 billion,
formal system for licensing and regulating offshore online betting.        mainly from the fall in the values of listed units.
As a condition of the licence, service providers are strictly prohibited        “I remain optimistic on China’s consumption prowess,” said Mr Ho
from accepting bets from Filipinos.                                        in a bullish response to the results.
     The proposed ban would potentially affect Internet cafes offering          Melco Crown Entertainment, the joint venture between Mr Ho
casino games to domestic customers and licensed by PAGCOR, the             and James Packer’s Australian gaming company Crown Ltd, will open
country’s gaming regulator-cum-operator.                                   its US$2.1 billion City of Dreams casino on Cotai in June.
     The idea has been put by politician Narciso Santiago, of the
Alliance for Rural Concerns Party. He cited worries about young            Who’s Sorry Now?
people gambling via the Internet. Under the proposal, some onshore              An item on Macau from
betting would be exempted, namely live horse races regulated by            Bloomberg News way back
the government, legal betting via the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes       in August 2007 caught the
Office lotto and officially sanctioned fantasy sports league wagering.     eyes of the hard-working
     Online operators based in the Philippines but with products           elves here at Asian Gaming
aimed only at the overseas market come under the jurisdiction of the       Intelligence.
Cagayan Export Zone Authority (CEZA). They have the right to operate            In the online article,
or own directly, indirectly or through a third party any tourism related   Sheldon Adelson, Chairman
activities including gambling casinos, under priorities and standards      and Chief Executive of Las
set by the CEZA.                                                           Vegas Sands Corp., was
                                                                           quoted as criticising his Las
The Joy of Sharing                                                         Vegas rival Steve Wynn for
    Dreamgate Corporation Bhd, the Malaysian company that                  being too cautious in his
manufactures and distributes gaming equipment via its multiple             Macau development plans.
subsidiary RGB, says the current economic downturn makes sharing                “Competitors and venues
revenue with casino operators an attractive proposition.                   should work to bring people Steve Wynn
    “Everybody wants to be conservative and with the tightening in         to destinations and then
the market, they are also delaying their purchasing. So as a result,       fight over them later, but Steve doesn’t think so,’’ Mr Adelson said in
we have many opportunities to tap more into this [revenue sharing]         the interview.
market where in the past, there wouldn’t be such an opportunity,’               “We think it’s a big mistake,’’ William Weidner, then President and
said Datuk KS Chuah, Dreamgate’s managing director, in comments            Chief Operating Officer of LVS added, in his own commentary on Mr
to the regional media.                                                     Wynn’s strategy.
    “In the past, Macau [casinos] wouldn’t offer you a concession               “We’ll build more and more and more,” said Mr Weidner at
programme because the absolute term return there was very good             the time.
so they wouldn’t share it with you,” he added.                                  The Chinese government had imposed new visa rules because it
    Mr Chuah said that in the changed trading conditions his company       was “disappointed’’ at the quality of some casinos being built in the
was prepared to offer casino operators in Macau and elsewhere the          city, Mr Weidner added.
chance to have brand new machines on a revenue share basis without              “The Chinese government cannot be proud of its Special
the upfront capital costs of outright purchase.                            Administrative Region when some of these cheap little buildings that
    “To date, we have signed many deals. We have at least 2,500            are makeovers with bubble gum and spray paint are coming into the
machines in revenue-sharing deals,” explained Mr Chuah.                    market,” he continued, warming to his theme.
    Dreamgate’s net profit for 2008 fell nearly 75% year on year to             Smaller and older casinos “will not survive. They can’t survive,”
RM10.4 million (US$2.82 million)                                           said Mr Weidner.
    But the company said it expected new business in Macau                      Well it turns out the so-called ‘cheap’ casinos may not be
and the Philippines to absorb the impending loss of income in              such a bad investment after all, even if Mr Weidner is no longer
Cambodia caused by the government’s closure of slot clubs in the           here to see it.
capital Phnom Penh.                                                             At the time Mr Wynn declined to comment on the wisdom of his
    Dreamgate added that the average income per machine per day            own strategy. We bet he wouldn’t mind commenting now.
                                                                                                                    April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   45
  Briefs




  International Briefs
                                                                          Canadian gambling tycoon who founded a six billion dollar a year
                                                                          business through his online brand Bodog.
                                                                              The difficulty for Mr Ayre is that US authorities allege he funded
                                                                          part of it by taking bets from American residents, in defiance of the
                                                                          Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act
  Marvel-lous opportunity                                                     When IAG saw Mr Ayre in Macau a year ago, he didn’t stay for
      Playtech Ltd, a London-listed                                       cocktails, glancing sceptically at our digital voice recorder as if it
  leading provider of turnkey products                                    were some kind of FBI listening device. Does that make us an alleged
  for online casinos including software,                                  accessory?
  hosting, customer service and transaction                                   Now the indefatigable Mr Ayre has taken on a new challenge—
  management, has signed a licensing                                      and a potentially equally robust jurisdictional power—in the form of
  deal with Marvel Entertainment Inc.                                     the People’s Republic of China.
      The deal gives Playtech access                                          He is said to be trying to crack the challenging China online
  to Marvel superhero brands,                                             market. The plan appears to be to promote play for fun games that
  including The Incredible Hulk and                                       should in theory be under the radar of China’s Internet censors, then
  Fantastic Four. The company says                                        use the customer database to market an online sports wagering
  it plans to use the rights on a multi media basis, including for        service to them. Getting the money is always the hardest part in
  online and mobile products.                                             China, and he may be hard pressed to find affiliate partners.
      Playtech also released its new and improved Bingo, which                As one Europe-based online gaming executive told IAG at a
  comprises a range of fresh features and enhancements. The new           recent conference in Macau: “Calvin is a great guy, but if you want to
  release provides a cutting edge look and feel, designed to appeal       do business in the States, you just can’t go anywhere near him.”
  directly to the company’s broad Bingo audience, offering a super-           Meanwhile, Bodog says its has signed an exclusive brand licence
  sized embedded chat, and a clear call for action.                       agreement with Asian online gaming operator Haydock Sports
                                                                          Limited. It will allow Bodog to set up a sports betting service aimed
                                                                          at Asian customers before the start of the 2009-10 European football
                                                                          season in the summer
                                                                              Haydock Sports is based in Manila in the Philippines. Haydock’s
                                                                          managing director Ian Dunning is a former Managing Director Asia
                                                                          at Victor Chandler.
                                                                              “We know that Bodog was considering a number of potential
                                                                          licensees, but we were confident that Haydock would emerge from
                                                                          the exhaustive diligence process as the premier choice of partners in
                                                                          the region,” said Mr Dunning in a prepared statement.
                                                                              “We expect to have a Bodog suite of products in-market prior to
                                                                          the start of the next European football season,” added Mr Dunning.
                                                                              The licence arrangement between Bodog, based and licensed in
                                                                          the Caribbean state of Antigua and Haydock provides an exclusive
  Racing Handicap                                                         licence to the Bodog brand for online gaming within Asia.
       Australian authorities have reportedly blocked online broadcasts       Haydock Sports has been operating in Asia since 2006 under the
  of Australian horse races from being distributed in Asia.               authority of an interactive gaming licence issued by First Cagayan.
       Officials cited the need to honour an agreement with the Hong      More recently, Haydock launched www.9play.com, which offers
  Kong Jockey Club as the reason for preventing access to the race day    cutting-edge sports book and casino products in Chinese and in
  webcasts of TVN.                                                        English to the Asian market.
       But racing insiders say the HKJC has made no request to block          Bodog has its head office, and is licensed in, the Caribbean nation
  the service, complaining the move has left the way open for pirates,    of Antigua. The Bodog group of companies includes an online sports
  who are stealing the signal and redistributing it anyway.               book, casino, poker room and a suite of other world-class gaming
       Murray Bell, the Hong Kong-based racing expert and pundit, says    products. Bodog says it does not offer “for money” gaming services
  there are now websites in the US and China that offer the Australian    in North America. Gaming services offered and operated in North
  racing signal to members. He adds that the Chinese sites—set up by      America under the Bodog brand are made available exclusively by
  illegal bookmakers—are also picking up other racing from around         Morris Mohawk Gaming Group.
  the region and even offering voice over commentary in Mandarin
  Chinese.                                                                GPIC Posts 2008 Results
                                                                              Gaming Partners International Corporation, a leading worldwide
  Ayre Raising                                                            provider of casino currency and table gaming equipment, has
       You can be the nicest and most successful guy in the world, but    announced financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended
  if the US government decides it doesn’t like you then you could have    December 31, 2008.
  a problem.                                                                  For the fourth quarter of 2008, the Company reported revenues
       That’s pretty much the current position for Calvin Ayre, the       of US$15.7 million, down 21% compared to revenues of US$19.9
46 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
                                                                                                                                            Briefs




                                                                           banks, Bloomberg News reported.
                                                                               The news service attributed the report to people with knowledge
                                                                           of the discussions.
                                                                               JPMorgan analyst Joseph Greff, in the meantime, said MGM
                                                                           Mirage continues to have the support of its lenders as it seeks to
                                                                           bolster its finances and find additional funding for its US$8.7 billion
                                                                           CityCenter development on the Las Vegas Strip.
                                                                               Reaffirming his neutral ranking on MGM Mirage stock, Greff said
                                                                           MGM Mirage Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Murren had affirmed
                                                                           that his company is exploring various options to deal with its financial
                                                                           pressure, which include US$13 billion in debt. Those options include
                                                                           asset sales, debt for asset swaps and bond-for-bond exchanges.
                                                                               In a note to clients, Greff said “the banks seem to be working
                                                                           closely with MGM to ensure the company makes it through this
                                                                           restructuring.”
                                                                               “MGM indicated that it and the banks want to see CityCenter
                                                                           completed and that there are third parties out there who could help
                                                                           complete as well,” Greff said in the note.
million for the fourth quarter of 2007. Gross profit for the quarter was
US$5.5 million, or 35% of revenues, compared to US$6.8 million, or         Nevada Gaming Revenue Keep Falling
34% of revenues, in the same period a year ago.
    Net income for the fourth quarter of 2008 was US$1.8 million,
up 100% compared to a net income of US$0.9 million in the fourth
quarter of 2007.
    For the year ended December 31, 2008, revenues were US$60.5
million, which were up three percent compared to revenues of
US$58.8 million in the year ended December 31, 2007. Gross profit
for the year was US$19.9 million, or 33% of revenues, compared to
US$17.5 million, or 30% of revenues, in 2007.
    Net income for the year ended December 31, 2008 was US$4.5
million, compared to US$0.2 million for the year ended December
31, 2007.
    GPIC added that as of December 31, 2008, its backlog of unfilled
orders, which are expected to be filled in 2009, was US$13.0 million.
Over US$8.0 million of the backlog is for orders from two casinos
in Asia that are expected to be delivered in the middle of the year,
which the company previously announced with its press release on
January 16, 2009.
    Commenting on the results, Gerard Charlier, President and CEO,
                                                                           The Las Vegas Strip
said, “We are pleased with our fourth quarter and year end results for
2008, especially given the difficult economic environment.”                    Gaming revenues fell more than 18% statewide during February
    “Our continuing efforts to reduce costs contributed to these           and more than 23% on the Strip, according to the Nevada Gaming
results. The move of our Bud Jones chip production from Las Vegas          Control Board.
to Mexico is improving operating margins and we have made staff                Casinos won almost US$839.5 million from gamblers, down from
reductions as well as other cost reductions,” added M. Charlier.           almost US$1.145 billion won a year ago. The figure was the lowest
    “This past year was the company’s second best year in terms            statewide one-month total since July 2004, when casinos recorded
of both revenues and net income. However, the challenges facing            US$813 million in gaming revenues.
the gaming industry will make 2009 a difficult year, especially in             On the Strip, casinos won US$427.4 million, down from US$558.3
the first quarter. Nonetheless, we are positioning the company             million a year ago. The figure was the lowest single month total since
to meet the challenges we face and believe we can find success             November 2004, when casinos won US$426 million.
in the marketplace, such as the large orders we announced in                   Despite the revenue drop, gaming tax collections based on the
January for the City of Dreams casino in Macau and the Newport             revenues were up 22.6% during the month. Nevada collected almost
City casino in Manila.”                                                    US$65.1 million, well above the US$53.1 million collected for the
                                                                           same period a year ago.
MGM Mirage Turns Attention to Bank Negotiations                                Not all areas of Clark County suffered during February.
   MGM Mirage’s talks to obtain a $750 million secured loan from           Gaming revenues were up almost 22% in North Las Vegas and
Los Angeles private equity company Colony Capital LLC have                 recorded slight increases of less than 1% each on the Boulder
been put on hold as MGM Mirage focuses on negotiations with                Strip and Mesquite.
                                                                                                                    April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   47
  Events Calendar



     Events Calendar
      A more comprehensive events listing is available on our website, www.asgam.com.
         7 - 9, May 2009                                                             24 - 25, June 2009
         GTI Asia Taipei Expo 2009                                                   World Poker Congress 2009
         Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC), Taipei, Taiwan                            Porto, Portugal
         Tel:          +886-2-27607407                                               Contact:      Joya Schneider
         Fax:          +886-2-27623873                                               Tel:          + (636) 946-0820
         Email:        gametime@taiwanslot.com.tw                                    Fax:          + (636) 946-0566
         Website:      www.gtiexpo.com.tw                                            Email:        joya.schneider@clariongaming.com
         Organizer:    Game Time International                                       Website:      http://www.worldpokercongress.com/2009/
                                                                                     Organizer:    Clarion Gaming

         19 - 21, May 2009
         Gaming Technology Summit 2009                                               16 - 18, August 2009
         Green Valley Ranch, Las Vegas, NV, US                                       Australasian Gaming Expo
         Contact:      Lesley Grashow                                                Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, Sydney
         Email:        grashowl@bnpmedia.com                                         Contact:      Ross Ferrar
         Website:      www.gametechsummit.com                                        Email:        info@gamingta.com
         Organizer:    BNP Media & Whitesand Consulting                              Website:      www.austgamingexpo.com
                                                                                     Organizer:    Gaming Technologies Association

         25 - 27, May 2009
         BetMarkets Asia                                                             19 – 20, August 2009
         Macau, P. R. China                                                          Gaming Asia Expo
         Email:        info@beaconevents.com                                         Singapore
         Website:      www.betmarketsasia.com                                        Contact:      Lina Loo
         Organizer:    Clarion Gaming & Beacon Events                                Email:        linaloo@hotmail.com
                                                                                     Website:      www.gamingasiaexpo.com
                                                                                     Organizer:    Redstone Group

         25 - 29, May 2009
         14th International Conference on                                            September 2009
         Gambling and Risk Taking                                                    Asian Casinos Executive Summit
         Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Nevada, US                                             Grand Hyatt, Singapore
         Contact:      Danielle Crowther                                             Organizer:            Terrapinn
         Email:        dcrowthe@unr.edu
         Tel:
         Website:
                       +1 (775) 784-1442, +1 (775) 784-1057
                       http://www.unr.edu/gaming/index.asp                           15-17, September, 2009
         Organizer:    University of Nevada                                          EIG European i-Gaming Congress & Expo
                                                                                     Copenhagen, Denmark
         3 - 4, June 2009                                                            Contact:
                                                                                     Tel:
                                                                                                   Joya Schneider
                                                                                                   + 1 (636) 946-0820
         G2E Asia                                                                    Fax:          + 1 (636) 946-0566
         Venetian Macao, Macau, P.R. China                                           Email:        joya.schneider@clariongaming.com
         Contact:      Wendy Fong                                                    Website:      http://www.worldpokercongress.com/2009/
         Tel:          + 852 2965 1633                                               Organizer:    Clarion Gaming
         Fax:          + 852 2824 0246
         Email:
         Website:
                       wendy.fong@reedexpo.com.hk
                       www.g2easia.com                                               17 - 19, November 2009
         Organizer:    Reed Exhibitions                                              Global Gaming Expo (G2E)
                                                                                     Las Vegas Convention Center
                                                                                     Contact:      Robin Abramson
                                                                                     Tel:          +1-800-363-3631
                                                                                     Email:        rabramson@globalgamingexpo.com
                                                                                     Website:      www.globalgamingexpo.com
                                                                                     Organizer:    Reed Exhibitions




                       denotes events where Inside Asian Gaming will be available.   To list your event here and on our website, email matt@asgam.com.

48 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009
April 2009 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING   49
50 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | April 2009

								
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