Your Daily Asia Gaming eBrief: Japan’s creepingly slow progress: Daniel Cheng

Good morning.

PH Resorts, developer of the Emerald Bay resort in Cebu is looking to attract Japan VIP players after signing an accord with junket operator ASKI Japan. It makes sense, as Japan was the fourth biggest tourism market in the Philippines in 2019, behind Korea and China. This could prove opportune, as there is still a lot to get through before Japan will see its first IR, as seasoned casino veteran Daniel Cheng notes in his face-to-face interview with Asia Gaming Brief’s Sharon Singleton. Illustrating this point, the Wakayama IR Promotion Council has been urging the prefectural government since last weekend to make a decision on an IR operator partner as soon as possible. They’ve been dragging their feet since autumn of 2020. Finally, we take a look at Star’s latest trading update, where Matt Bekier speaks about the resilience of the domestic market, strength in QLD and how it feels about competition with Crown Sydney. 

First, the news

What you need to know

PH Resorts eyes Japan’s high rollers with junket accord

PH Resorts, which is developing the Emerald Bay resort on Cebu, has signed an accord with a junket operator aimed at tapping into Japan’s VIP market. The company, a unit of Udenna Group, has signed a letter of intent with ASKI Japan, which provides junket and VIP services for Japanese players in Asia. Japan was the Philippines fourth-biggest tourism market in 2019, attracting 682,788 tourists, up just over 8 percent from the prior year. Koreans still top the arrivals tables at 1.98 million, but before the pandemic China was catching up and showing faster growth.

PH Resorts' Emerald Bay moves ahead
Emerald Bay, Sept. 2020

Star Entertainment’s first five months showcases domestic resilience

Australian casino operator Star Entertainment said its gross gambling revenue was up 37 percent year-on-year in the five months from January to May, highlighting the resilience of Australia’s domestic market. JP Morgan analyst Don Carducci said the recent trading update has “shown the strength of domestic gaming regardless of start/stop property closures & border conditions.” Speaking to inventors, Star CEO Matt Bekier said he was not too concerned about the recent stall in China-Australia trade talks. 

Wakayama IR Promotion Council urges operator selection

A general meeting of the Wakayama IR Promotion Council held last weekend passed a resolution urging the prefectural government to make its decision on an IR operator partner as soon as possible. Although not made explicit, among the two candidate operators – the Suncity Group and the Clairvest Group – the former seems to be preferred by the council. The prefectural government has repeatedly pushed back its target date for operator selection, in spite of the fact that the selection committee has been in place for over a year. Originally the decision was to be made in the autumn of 2020.


FACE TO FACE: Daniel Cheng

Politics may upset Japan’s IR apple cart

Daniel Cheng, a seasoned casino veteran who was formerly leading Hard Rock International’s effort to gain a license in Hokkaido, talks to Asia Gaming Brief about Japan’s creepingly slow progress towards its first IRs. He says the pandemic has complicated matters and arguably the process should have been put on hold, but it’s politics that have the potential to really change the landscape.
Your Daily Asia Gaming eBrief: Japan's creepingly slow progress: Daniel Cheng

Corporate Spotlight

Pragmatic Play on the forefront of Asian markets growth

With so much room for development in the Asian markets, Pragmatic Play isn’t resting on its laurels. The increasing acceptance of igaming has seen a slow change in attitude towards regulation, with more and more markets on the cusp of delivering legislative roadmaps, which will truly propel the market to a period of hypergrowth – something Pragmatic Play intends to be at the forefront of.

Pragmatic Play Dragon Tiger

Industry Updates

Your Daily Asia Gaming eBrief: Japan's creepingly slow progress: Daniel Cheng
Your Daily Asia Gaming eBrief: Japan's creepingly slow progress: Daniel Cheng