Ben Lee is the managing partner of IGamiX Management & Consulting based in Macau. He is quietly acknowledged as one of the region’s experts in the area of Asian gaming market. With extensive gaming experience all over Asia and Australia, Ben has spent the last eight years covering and uncovering new gaming projects around the Asia Pacific region. He is currently consulting to numerous multinational companies on their Asian gaming development strategies. Ben’s qualifications: MBA (Melbourne Business School), Post.Grad.Dip. Management, Grad.Dip. Jap and B.Ec. Ben was also a Certified Practicing Marketer with the Australian Institute of Marketing.
Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng reaffirmed in his policy address this week that “promoting an adequate economic diversification” remained a key objective for the government of the Special Administrative Region, and that these efforts would continue.
Ben Lee suggests that Macau might switch over its local economy, including its massive casinos, away from the Pataca or Hong Kong Dollar to the Digital Yuan. He sees this as an “elegant solution” for many of Macau’s economic challenges, and one that still leaves important roles for the junket industry as well.
Las Vegas Sands lobbed an “October surprise” into the world of the gaming industry, confirming it’s seeking buyers for its Nevada casinos, effectively leaving it as an Asia-only operator, with properties in Macau and Singapore.
While it’s too early to say Cambodia’s coastal gambling hub has risen phoenix-like from the ashes, there are encouraging signs that Sihanoukville is serious about transforming into a mass market tourism destination, with a significant improvement in urban infrastructure.
The question of the fast-looming deadline for expiry for Macau’s gaming concessions was given a thorough airing by a panel of experts Thursday night, with the majority coming down in favour of the government deciding to maintain the status quo and number of operators.
Mainland Chinese are still keen to travel despite the Covid-19 pandemic and Macau and Vietnam are likely to be the first destinations to benefit once travel restrictions are lifted and flights resume.
Following a highly successful first installment of the AGB Webinar Series on April 9th, featuring Earle Hall on “Life After COVID-19”, Asia Gaming Brief is pleased to announce the second AGB Webinar. This time, we take a look at the roadmap to tourism recovery in Asia, particularly with the important Chinese tourism segment. Our panel […]
Vietnam’s Prime Minister has warned major cities to prepare for a lockdown as it seeks to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Cambodia shut down its online industry as it was “out of control” and it now plans to focus on improving infrastructure in Sihanoukville to reinvigorate the town into an upscale tourism destination.
The seizure of UnionPay point of sale terminals (POS) from pawn shops in Macau earlier this month triggered a slide in operator shares on fears of tighter capital controls, though the continued use of illegal devices means there has been little impact on revenue. Two state-owned mainland banks, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) […]
A backlash against a perceived influx of Chinese investment has sparked protests in both Vietnam and Cambodia this year, though experts say the outlook for two of the region’s most promising gaming markets remains positive. Most recently the protests have centered on plans for three economic zones in Vietnam, one in the center, one in […]
At least five Chinese-owned resorts in Hainan have been laying down plans to convert their ballrooms into pseudo gaming floors, Bloomberg reports. According to people with direct knowledge of the plans, the gaming floors will allow players play with real money, but receive their winnings in the form of points which can be redeemed at […]
Crown Resorts’ head of international marketing, Michael Chen had reportedly left the company sometime in March, according to The Australian. “It is understood that Crown’s China marketing guru, Mr Chen, ceased working for the James Packer-backed casino empire more than a month ago,” noted the news outlet. It is not clear whether Mr. Chen had […]
Looking forward to 2017, the picture is less than clear. With the recent detention and arrests of Crown’s staff in China, all but one of the operators in Macau have ceased their direct marketing efforts across the border. Most if not all the foreign operators who have been targeting China have adopted the same risk […]
Vietnam’s draft gaming decree, which is now in its final stages and awaiting approval from the prime minister, won’t cut the country’s high gaming tax rate. The long-awaited gaming bill is likely to be published by the end of this year, or early next, said Professor Augustine Ha Ton Vinh, president and CEO of Stellar […]
The Macau gaming regulator says it has no plans to promote skill-based games in the territory, according to a report from Macau Business Daily on Tuesday. While skill-based gaming is seen as a way for Macau to diversify its gaming offerings and offer a new avenue for “millennial gamers” to engage in the industry, the […]
The Harbourview Hotel, with 389-rooms and modeled on 18th century Prague architecture, has opened in Macau, marking the first of several non-gaming related projects planned for this year. The 4-star hotel, owned by Macau Legend Development and costing about $193 million, is connected to the Flamingo Casino slot hall, and Babylon Casino, which features 35 […]
“As soon as we catch up on our cash flow, we will also catch up on payroll,” a spokesperson for the casino resort in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands told reporters.
In 2018, on Genting Hong Kong’s 25th anniversary, President Colin Au summed up the company by saying, “We come from Malaysia, a small country, but we go out to the world. We open our eyes and learn new things.”
Vietnam’s gambling industry stayed largely out of the headlines in 2019, though projects have been inching their way forward, with the country’s largest resort to date scheduled to open in the first half of this year.
Six gaming companies have transformed a sleepy colonial outpost into one of the richest cities in the world. But despite the vast wealth, infrastructure and social policies are still lagging.
Twenty-nine years ago I visited Macau for the first time. It was a consolation day trip from Hong Kong for not being able to apply and obtain a visa to enter China in less than a week when I had only four days to spend.
Mey Vann, director general at Cambodia’s Ministry of Finance, pulls no punches when it comes to the nation’s online gambling ban. “It’s gone and it’s not coming back,” he says
Regulatory risk, political uncertainty and exposure to a Chinese economic downturn will factor into the performance of casino sectors in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines – albeit to varying degrees. From a regulatory perspective, changes in Malaysia and Singapore are unlikely. Malaysia’s gaming sector endured something of an annus horribilis in 2018, headlined by a […]
The first of Macau’s six casino concessions expire in less than 18 months, though the operators who have invested billions in the territory still have no clarity as to how, or even if, those licenses to operate will be renewed.
There’s growing concern that China may launch a crackdown on the streaming of casino games into the country next year, potentially dealing a major blow to the booming industry in the Philippines and Cambodia.
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.
Casino operators in the Philippines have been attending workshops on how to comply with the country’s new anti-money laundering regulations, though some industry experts say the rules are still are not strong enough. The reporting thresholds are similar to Macau, and some say that's too high for the market.
In just three years, the first of the licenses awarded to Macau’s concessionaires expire and, despite the billions of dollars invested by the operators in the market, there is still no clarity over the renewal process. There is no mechanism under the current law for automatic renewal which, as the deadline approaches, is leading to increasing concern in the market as to the tack the government may take. Views on the ground are mixed.
Cambodia’s long-awaited gambling legislation is likely to be published mid-year and could herald the start of a dramatic shake out of the country’s 65 casinos. Higher tax rates and investment levels may trigger consolidation.
Macau got off to a good start in January, with GGR in the initial weeks higher than expected, though few expect any return to the stellar growth rates of the past, with China still likely to be the driving factor for casino operators. Beijing’s crackdown on corruption triggered a two-year slump in gaming revenue and going forward the performance of its economy, efforts to control capital outflows and its ongoing fight against graft will all play a role in determining the strength of the local gaming market.
With signs Macau is well on the road to recovery; the Philippine market growing in double digits; and the prospect of casinos in Japan, 2017 is starting on a more promising note for Asia’s casino industry. We asked some of our contributors to give us their predictions for what will be the most notable events and trends of the year ahead.
To coin a popular phrase, 2016 really has been a year of two halves in the Asian gaming industry. To continue with the cliches, it’s also fair to say there have been a few curved balls along the route. Industry experts gave us their views of the year just passed, with the good, the bad and the ugly.
Vietnam is taking a step towards lifting a ban on locals gambling, but the experiment is limited to two casinos, leading to question marks over whether it will be the game changer that many foreign investors had hoped. The narrow scope of the experiment and remote location of the proposed resorts may hamper the revenue potential.
In June, Vietnam took the long-awaited step and sent a draft decree that could pave the way for locals to gamble to the National Assembly. There’s been much speculation over the impact a change in the law will have for both Vietnam and neighboring Cambodia’s casino industries and whether Vietnam will finally be able claw back revenues lost over the border.