The boom in the number of casinos being opened around Asia in recent years is pushing up demand for specialised logistics services, says Samuel Wilson, executive director of Turn Key Hospitality Services Group Ltd, known as TKHS.
The gaming sector “is certainly a very unique industry” when it comes to logistics needs, Mr Wilson told GGRAsia.
“One of the main differences [compared to other industries] is the speed and pace that everything needs to happen at. Basically, time is money for the casino,” he added.
Logistical challenges also include liaison with different regulatory bodies for the shipping and transportation of gaming equipment.
“For example, in the Philippines, where we are very active, the rules and regulations that control the import and exports of any gaming items are very tight,” Mr Wilson said.
The large scale and unique designs of many new casino resorts in Asia also pose unique logistical problems. These projects often involve the import of oversized equipment and fixtures that require special measures for transportation.
“For one of our clients, we had to ship in about 250 tonnes of oversized cargo [to the Philippines]… within four to five weeks, and those items where coming from Europe, from the U.S., from all over the place. We even had to charter an entire aircraft to bring that cargo in,” Mr Wilson explained.
He established TKHS in 2013. The firm is a logistics service provider for the gaming and hospitality industry in Asia. It provides logistics management for both pre- and post-opening phases of casino properties. The latter includes refurbishment and remodelling of venues. The firm’s work includes cross-border trucking and international freight services, customs clearance, domestic trucking and onsite installation services.
Gaming logistics “is certainly a niche industry,” but a fast growing one, Mr Wilson said. TKHS has a team of about 140 people, working in Macau and the Philippines.
He added: “This year, we are expecting to ship about 5,000 containers of gaming- or hospitality-related freight and about 300 to 400 tonnes of air freight as well. [These are] quite high volumes. It is 20 percent to 30 percent more than what we did last year. I am very optimistic about this year and 2017.”
Prior to establishing TKHS, Mr Wilson worked for Las Vegas Sands Corp’s operations in Asia. He was involved in logistics management for Venetian Macao on Cotai and for Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
Mr Wilson said demand for specialised logistics services in Asia is growing not only for the construction phase of new casino resorts. The same is happening for the provision of ongoing logistics services for properties already in operation, including for the import of additional gaming equipment, spare parts and food and beverage supplies.
Macau was the first market in which TKHS operated. “We are currently the market leader in warehousing for the gaming industry in Macau,” said Mr Wilson.
“We have 18,000 square metres [193,750 sq feet] of warehouse space that is all located in Macau; this is one of our unique selling points because there is very limited warehouse space available in the market,” he added.
TKHS includes among its clients the majority of the casino operators in Macau. The firm has been involved as a logistics service supplier in several of the latest resort projects being developed on Cotai, such as Studio City, Wynn Palace and MGM Cotai.
TKHS began operations in the Philippines in 2013, providing services to casino resorts that were at that time under development in Entertainment City, located in the country’s capital Manila.
“We found a very strong demand for our services,” Mr Wilson said.
He added: “The Philippines is weak in terms of infrastructure: there are limitations… on the volumes of cargo that physically can come in and out per day. That is one of the bottlenecks. The second issue is the customs clearance process in the Philippines, which is quite a lengthy and complex process.”
TKHS is the only logistics service provider accredited by state-run operator-cum-regulator the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, Mr Wilson said. “Last year, we became ISO certified in the Philippines,” he added.
TKHS is active in other parts of the country beyond Manila. “We are doing work in some of the outlying islands, such as Cebu and Davao. There, work is typically for smaller hotels, often without a casino attached,” said Mr Wilson.
TKHS is now exploring opportunities to expand into other Asian markets. South Korea and Cambodia are being looked at, but the company has two other targets first.
“Australia is a key market that we want to be in and certainly will be very active there going into next year,” said Mr Wilson. TKHS already has a presence in the market, but mostly related to the shipping of goods – such as gaming equipment, signage and casino cage equipment – to Macau and the Philippines.
“What we want to do is to have operations for casino developments actually based in Australia,” said Mr Wilson.
Hong Kong is also a priority for TKHS but for different reasons.
“Hong Kong is the gateway for most of the cargo that comes in to either Macau or the Philippines. So, it makes sense for us to invest in infrastructure in Hong Kong, in particular warehousing and trucking,” Mr Wilson explained.
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”We expect Goa to quickly become a US$1 billion market as it transitions to land-based casinos (from US$150 million today), which is still just a fraction of India’s total GGR potential of US$10 billion to US$17 billion”
Analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia