The slowdown seen in the Chinese economy recently was likely to have no meaningful impact on Chinese consumer demand for gaming in Asia Pacific because of the huge numbers of people from that country the industry had still to reach.
So said Hakan Dagtas, executive vice president, chief gaming operations and marketing officer at Philippine casino operator Travellers International Hotel Group Inc.
“Some junket operators might suffer,” said the executive, alluding to some of the contraction seen recently in VIP gambling volume particularly in the Macau market, but he was “quite optimistic” about the Chinese mass market.
“We just need to do the right things” for the consumers, Mr Dagtas noted.
If that market segment is “analysed” and the “right research is conducted” into Chinese players, the executive said he remained “quite optimistic about the Chinese consumer business for the industry.
Mr Dagtas was speaking at a panel session on the first day of a casino sector trade show and conference called Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia @ the Philippines, the inaugural version of the G2E-branded event in that country.
Travellers International is a venture between Philippine-listed conglomerate Alliance Global Group Inc and Hong Kong-listed casino cruise ship operator Genting Hong Kong Ltd. Mr Dagtas has prior experience of working directly for Genting Hong Kong.
Travellers International operates the Resorts World Manila casino complex near the Philippine capital’s international airport, where the gaming conference is taking place. The Philippines bricks and mortar segment had seen double-digit percentage growth in casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) in the past few years – as reported by the country’s gaming regulator, noted Mr Dagtas. A number of investment analysts have said play by Chinese visitors has been a major factor in the expansion.
The executive said it was likely similar growth could be seen in the Philippines market for “three, four or five” further years.
Commenting on whether a recent moderation in China’s gross domestic product annual growth might weigh down performance of markets in Asia Pacific, Mr Dagtas noted that the United Nations Tourism Organization (UNWTO) had estimated Chinese travellers were the highest spending segment of outbound tourists in 2018.
According to the UNWTO International Tourism Highlights 2019, Chinese spent US$277 billion on international tourism in 2018. Nearly 150 million outbound visits were made by Chinese travellers in 2018, up 14.7 percent year-on-year, according to a report issued in March by the China Tourism Academy and Chinese online travel service Ctrip.com.
If that market pool was addressed “in the right way” by the gaming industry, Mr Dagtas said he did not expect “a major impact on [gaming] manufacturers or gaming operators,” from a Chinese economic slowdown.
Adrian Halpenny, senior vice president Australia and Asia at Scientific Games, also told delegates that from his firm’s perspective, “we don’t see any reduction in participation from Chinese players across the globe.”
Scientific Games makes slot machines, electronic table games and shufflers for the casino segment, as well as offering lottery services for regulated markets around the world.
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