While the land-based industry’s online presence will take some time to bear fruit, gaming consultant Sudhir Kale predicts online will achieve unparalleled significance in 2022 and beyond.
2021 was a unique year, not just for the gaming industry, but for all businesses large and small. Pretty much every casino was shut down some part of the year, with many facing multiple closures.
Macau was expected to recover faster than most markets in Europe and North America, but we witnessed the exact opposite. With Macau, most observers are, in hushed tones, echoing Merle Haggard, “Are the good times really over for good?”
Ironically, at a time when the world was grappling with Covid in its multiple avatars, casinos on the Las Vegas strip and some clubs with gaming machines in Australia registered record revenues in certain months.
“The Great Resignation” hit the gaming industry like it did many other businesses, with the hospitality industry being the most impacted. Large casino companies showed unprecedented interest in online gaming, including Las Vegas Sands, whose founder was dead set against online gaming and spent millions rallying and lobbying against legalizing online gaming.
While these efforts to establish a solid online presence will take some time to bear fruit, the writing is on the wall: Online gaming will achieve unparalleled significance in 2022 and beyond.
So, what does the future hold?
I feel Macau will lose some of its lustre as the world’s gambling Mecca. Mainland China will continue its tight monitoring of overseas gambling among its citizens.
Access to gambling funds among Chinese citizens will become even harder, and with the arrest of Alvin Chau, the death knell has been sounded for the hitherto permissive and secretive junket business.
Just a few years ago, I had written that Macau’s casino companies need to look at markets beyond China. Not many people took this suggestion seriously. I am sure that many now wish they had.
I believe the Philippine casino business will grow at a decent pace, given its diverse customer base, and proximity to many markets.
Japan will continue to disappoint many with the likely developments for 2022. Regulators will get serious about enforcing regulations in Australia, though I do not think the industry will be able to change its culture and its approach to risk management without intervention from outside experts.
Companies operating in Vegas should do well, buoyed mostly by non-gaming revenues and the pent-up demand for travel among Americans.
My hopes for 2022? I believe they are best expressed in Emergen-C’s, “A Love Letter to Normal Life.”
“I look forward to the day where a hug is just a hug, where a crowded bus or a crowded street or crowded park is welcome relief. A world where we can’t wait to wait in line again…”