There is room for more convergence on electronic gaming machine (EGM) regulations in Asia, says Ian Hughes, vice president of global services for U.S.-based Gaming Laboratories International LLC. He argues technical standard convergence could make it easier for slot makers to sell into more Asian jurisdictions.
“Asia is a very large market but it is still predominantly a table market,” Mr Hughes told GGRAsia.
“As [individual] Asian markets become more divergent [with the adoption of different EGM rules], that creates challenges for the industry as a whole,” he said.
The GLI executive added: “It is a huge investment for manufacturers to make changes [in a game] for a specific market. That makes it more costly.”
GLI is one of the largest international independent providers of testing, inspection and certification services to the gaming, wagering and lottery industries.
The company has developed several global technical standards applying to a wide array of sectors within the gaming industry. Many of them are recognised and adopted by jurisdictions around the world.
“I don’t think [having several different standards in Asia] is in the best interests of the industry,” Mr Hughes said. “The reason is that there will be fewer manufacturers in those markets to supply products, which means less choice for operators.”
GLI regularly provides consultancy services to gaming regulators. It recently assisted the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), that country’s gaming regulator, in developing the Philippines’ first full set of technical standards for EGMs.
Bucking the trend
“The requirements between Macau, Singapore and the Philippines are all different. As new markets come on board, like Taiwan, [South] Korea or Japan, we also expect those to be different,” Mr Hughes said.
“That is a different trend from what is happening in other parts of the world. For example, in Australia, there is a convergence of the standards. In Europe or Latin America, countries are coming together on the technical requirements.”
Mr Hughes noted however that it is not easy to push EGM regulatory convergence since technical standards are often closely related to the gaming policies of each jurisdiction.
“Regulators will create requirements based on public policy and their objectives,” Mr Hughes explained. “With that being the case, there are many good reasons why a regulator would have certain requirements in place.”
He said different standards are not a problem for GLI, as most of the testing the company performs is similar regardless of the jurisdiction.
“In most cases, we don’t have to develop any specific tools or software to test for new standards,” Mr Hughes stated. “A change in our work instructions and our test scripts and procedures is generally enough.”
GLI is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and has plans for more offices in Asia.
The firm opened its first Asian gaming testing facility in Macau in 2006. It was expanded to a full-service testing laboratory in 2009. GLI also has an office in the Philippines.
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