“All eyes” in the casino sector are likely to be on Thailand during 2024, to see what progress, if any, the country can make towards legalisation of such business, and from that the creation of casino resorts. So says Brendan Bussmann, managing partner at consultancy B2 Global, in comments to GGRAsia.
In terms of Asia-Pacific emerging markets, “all eyes will be on Thailand at this point,” regarding how it “shapes up” after the country’s legislature considers as expected an updated report on the topic, said the consultant.
Mr Bussmann stated: “There is a distinct opportunity to do this right but it is all going to come down to regulation and getting the right regulatory environment in place.”
He added he was hopeful that Thailand would “embrace that opportunity and look toward experts that can build the right foundation, and not be limited in the spectrum of [casino] operators [introduced] to the market”.
Daniel Cheng is a former senior executive with the Hard Rock and Genting casino brands. He worked with Hard Rock in exploring opportunities for teaming with Hokkaido when that Japanese prefecture was for a time interested in seeking an integrated resort (IR) with casino under Japan’s liberalisation process.
He told GGRAsia regarding Thailand that the country offers “a glimmer of hope” for the industry.
Mr Cheng stated: “The new gaming parliamentary committee’s brisk activity, with over half a dozen meetings and hearings, shows genuine progress.”
He added, referring latterly to suggestions tabled in 2022 for a five-location market to aid economic activity across the kingdom: “Political volatility” within the country “remains a concern, but bipartisan support for the Thai entertainment complex plan suggests possible slowdown, not a dead end, for a Thai gaming industry.”
Mr Cheng further noted: “At this pace, 2025 legislation is a good possibility.”
Joe Pisano, a veteran of casino operations and technology supply across the region, had a cautious view of Thailand.
He told GGRAsia: “In my opinion, legislation will still take a couple of years and the bidding process [and] approvals will take a further couple of years.
“Allowing time for construction, eight-plus years would be a reasonable estimate” in terms of how long it could take to establish a casino sector in Thailand, he added.
Mr Pisano is founder and chief executive of Philippines-based casino equipment and gaming services supplier Jade Entertainment and Gaming Technologies Inc.
Philippines still rising
The Philippines is one Asia-Pacific jurisdiction with an existing and expanding casino sector.
The Solaire Resort North casino complex in Quezon City, part of the Greater Manila area, could open in March 2024, according to comments recently attributed to Enrique Razon, chairman and chief executive of the venue’s promoter, Bloomberry Resorts Corp.
According to previous information from Bloomberry, Solaire Resort North is to feature a hotel tower with up to 550 rooms, and a gaming area with up to 200 gaming tables and as many as 3,000 slot machines.
Suntrust Resort Holdings Inc, developer of a casino hotel at Westside City in Manila, has mentioned in filings to the Philippine Stock Exchange that the property could start operations in the “fourth quarter of 2024”.
The Casino Filipino chain of venues controlled by the national regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), is due to have equipment upgrades prior to a planned sell-off of venues to the private sector. In November, Alejandro Tengco, Pagcor’s chairman and chief executive, said that in connection with the upgrade, it was anticipated there would be delivery of “3,000 brand new slot machines” by January 2024.
Mr Pisano told GGRAsia: “The Philippines will be the biggest growth market in Asia” from 2024 onward, “with an expected 50,000 new machines, the opening of Solaire [Resort] North and the continued growth of remote gaming.”
New technology, Macau’s Year of the Dragon
He added that in his view the casino sector’s development in 2024 would be “driven by technology, expansion of remote gaming, especially e-slots, introduction of AI [artificial intelligence] and Web3” technology.
Web3 is a term used to describe the next iteration of the Internet, “one that is built on blockchain technology and is communally controlled by its users,” according to McKinsey & Co, a business consultancy.
Mr Pisano added that in his view during 2024 and onward, in some markets smartphones “will have greater use in both online and land-based and will be the prime tool for cashless gaming”.
He also thinks casino operators across the region “should prepare for greater anti-money laundering monitoring”.
Macau, in gross gaming revenue (GGR) terms the ‘mother’ of all Asian casino markets, will celebrate on February 10 along with the Chinese mainland itself, the once-in-12 years event of the Year of the Dragon, considered particularly auspicious in Chinese culture.
Ben Lee said his company IGamiX Management and Consulting Ltd thinks 2024 will see Macau mass-market GGR “just ahead of the 2019 levels,” as the city “maxes out” its “infrastructure and logistics” capacity in terms of its ability to host tourists from the Chinese mainland.
He added he expects Macau’s VIP gambling segment to see “greater volatility” than in 2023, with the possibility the mainland authorities would “lift constraints on their residents travelling abroad”.
Nonetheless banking group Morgan Stanley recently expressed some caution on the economic benefit during 2024 of outbound Chinese tourism in the wider world. It doesn’t expect China’s international air travel fully to recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2025, a view shared by Bloomberg Intelligence.
Feb 28, 2024Members of Macau’s Legislative Assembly approved on Wednesday the first reading of the draft “Law to Combat Gambling Crimes”, which has been presented by the city’s authorities as a...
Feb 28, 2024
Feb 28, 2024
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