In what has now become an Asia Gaming Brief tradition, the Focus Section of our December magazine takes a look at the year in review and asks for forecasts on how the year ahead may evolve. In the following pages you will find those predictions from a selection of leading figures in Asia’s gaming industry.

We also focus on some key themes that have emerged throughout the year and look at how they may impact the industry moving forward.

As the region starts to reopen to international tourism, the industry is likely to be facing a giant China-shaped hole in its visitation numbers and spending.

China is doggedly sticking with its zero-Covid policies, which also encompass Hong Kong and Macau, and no change is expected in the first half of 2022 at the very least. Some predictions are for Chinese borders to remain closed for the better part of next year.

The travel restrictions are also likely to be masking what may be a much longer-term issue and that’s China’s ongoing and increasingly determined crackdown on its nationals travelling overseas to gamble.

We ask what strategies regional operators could adopt to make up for the loss of the China market, especially given that many of the region’s mega resorts were built with the Mainland VIP in mind. It seems there is no easy fix to this problem.

We also take a timely look at regional AML issues. Fred Gushin and Paul Bromberg from Spectrum Gaming are urging regional governments to take a more proactive approach, especially when it comes to junket operations. The Philippines and Cambodia are on the FATF grey list and risk serious reputational damage if they don’t tackle the issues.

The “great resignation” was another theme to emerge this year and in some jurisdictions it’s causing a serious crisis in the hospitality industry.

Sudhir Kale, founder of GamePlan Consultants and Brett Jones, CEO of Bullseye CX, throw the spotlight on the problem in Australia’s bars and clubs. They survey managers across the industry and find that companies that don’t pay greater attention to the employee experience are likely to be in serious trouble.