MGS Summit 2018 | Experts call on gov’t support in e-gaming promotion

From left: Takahiro Usui, Herman Ng, Jay Chun, Chris Rowe, Walter Bugno and Aljoša Krupenk

Slot machines in the region only occupy some 10 percent of the city’s gambling floors, implying that slot gaming remains a small market for Macau.

In a forum held yesterday at the MGS Summit 2018, gaming experts and executives called for promotion of e-gaming, implying a call for an easing of regulations towards e-gaming machines.

Since there is a distinct cultural nuance within countries in Asia in which cultural and gaming presences differ, there is a need to satisfy players according to their preferences – which different jurisdictions may treat differently.

According to gaming experts, slot machines are a minor market for the SAR.

Walter Bugno, chief executive officer of IGT International, said there are a series of components that differentiate the way gamblers from the West and Asia play, particularly driven by culture.

“As a result, we see different opportunities in Macau. Specifically, the e-gaming machine market is still relatively small, relatively undeveloped and relatively poorly understood by players that are visiting. It’s an incentive for us to help develop this market,” said Bugno, who was one of the speakers at the panel discussion.

Commenting on which regions are recording fast progress in the use of slot machines, Bugno added that Asia is more underdeveloped in the electronic gaming market, noting that excluding Australia and Japan, there are only 50,000 slot machines deployed in Asia.

“Asia is interesting because it’s a small market that is growing. There’s growth in every market,” the executive added.

The experts at the forum noted that engaging customers to return to the same machine remains a challenge to the incumbents in the market.

Chris Rowe, managing director for Aristocrat Asia Pacific, reiterated that while slot machines are a small market on a global scale, Macau – with distinctive regulations – is even smaller.

“People like us on this panel have to do bespoke development in each of these markets,” said Rowe. “Macau can lead the world. We’re seeing games being developed for Macau and it’s enjoying massive success globally,” he added, yet noted that leading from a technology or hardware standpoint remains a challenge due to some regulations.

Although customers in the region still prefer real table games, the experts hoped that they would be more accepting of electronic gaming, citing that Macau’s gaming floors have enough space, hinting at the potential growth of such a market.

Jay Chun, chairman of Macau Gaming Equipment Manufacturers Association, suggested a call on the government to create policy favorable to operators.

“I think the gaming law will be modified anyway. I think if some policy comes out, [a] depreciation for gaming devices can [lower] tax, then it will encourage operators to buy more electronic gaming machines […] and it will be better promoted to the mass market,” Chun said.

He added that electronic gaming devices are much easier to manage, citing that there is no need for staff to oversee the game.

“Electronic gaming machines must be a major income for the market. We have to ask the government to make some new policies to encourage operators to enlarge [this market]” Chun added.

Echoing the same sentiments, Walter Bugno noted the need to work closely with regulators in a bid to simplify and accelerate approval processes, along with working with gaming operators to maximize what they can do on their casino floors.

Bugno suggested that gaming operators could also promote e-game tournaments as a form of entertainment, and also allow customers to access games so they could play before they visit the casino and so have an informed choice about what to play once they arrive.

“Mystery jackpot [and] mystery payouts are also a form of promotion. If we can align with the regulator here, we can promote in this market as well,” Bugno added.

The summit was part of the MGS Entertainment Show 2018, which ended yesterday.

The three-day summit discussed law, regulations and future trends of the entertainment industry, as well as the development of digital entertainment including game IP, eSports, and VR/AR, amongst others.

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