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Operators in Russia’s Far East have won a reprieve from a potentially punishing new tax regime and are now discussing further development plans with the government of the zone. In the interests of long-term investment, Primorye chose to leave taxes unchanged. It now hopes to attract further investors through land auctions this summer and to introduce more non-gaming elements.
Russian bookmakers are hoping for a bonanza from the FIFA World Cup, which will be held in the country less than two months from now, but many fear regulatory hurdles and slow-moving legislation will mean that legal operators will lose out. A complex identification process is likely to deter punters, especially the foreign visitors who are likely to flood into the country for the tournament.
Imperial Pacific International is facing mounting levels of bad debt due to its practice of extending direct credit to VIPs, while it continues to struggle to make headway on completing its hotel facilities. Problems for Saipan’s only operator continue to mount, with the company recently denying persistent reports it has been the subject of a Federal Bureau of Investigation raid. In its most recent results, the company posted stellar topline growth, though its outstanding receivables and debt provisions also gained in tandem, with the figures showing a high degree of credit risk concentration on just a handful of clients.
When in 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court accepted to hear the appeal in the Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association case (later renamed Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association) no one expected New Jersey ever to be allowed to offer sports betting to its residents. For years New Jersey had sought to challenge Nevada’s monopoly on legal sports betting, eventually passing legislation allowing the Garden State’s casinos and racetracks to accept bets on sports events played outside the state and not involving state’s college teams. Now it looks like a real possibility and industry observers are considering what the spillover effects into Asia may be.
The increased clarity regarding the terms of IR regulation in Japan following the ruling coalition compromises is also throwing light on which institutions are now advantaged and which are disadvantaged in the race for licenses. Seth Sulkin, head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan’s task force on IRs, describes the outcome to Asia Gaming Brief as “a major victory for the major casino operators and large Japanese cities.”
Macau’s junket operators are increasingly focused on Cambodia, drawn in by growing business ties with China and its location between countries that don’t allow locals to gamble. SunCity Group, Macau’s largest junket, on March 1 launched its first VIP Club at NagaCorp’s NagaWorld property in Phnom Penh, encouraged by the rapid growth in Chinese tourists to the kingdom and others are also moving in.
Technology is advancing at a breakneck pace, opening a world of opportunities, though when it comes to game design and convergence between the land-based and online sectors, customer preferences in Asia are slow to change. This was a key takeaway from panels at the ASEAN Gaming Summit held in Manila last week, which this year focused on disruptive technologies, innovation and the convergence between the online and offline sector. Although much is made of the need to the attract the millennial audience, whose adoption of new technologies and social gaming is fast and well documented, they are still a long way from being a driving force in the industry.
With competition for customers in jurisdictions such as Macau intensifying, casino operators are realizing the vital role played by their employees in customer retention, but the strategies being used to foster employee engagement, such as higher salaries, are largely ineffective. So what should operators do to ensure that their staff stay with the company and project their enthusiasm to the client?
China’s VIPs are once again driving gross gambling revenue across the region, with the Philippines tipped as being one of the best-placed jurisdictions to take a slice of the high-roller pie.