Kevin Lee: Reflecting on the last 20 years of Macau gaming

Kevin Lee

General Manager, Aruze Gaming Macau

When did you arrive in Macau and in what capacity?

I first came to Macau around March 2007 as sales for RGB. I was new to the industry, a green boy with a background in IT. I was tasked with table games product sales, like chips and layouts. The market was all table games back then. Three years on I joined Aruze and everything changed.

What were your first impressions?

Coming from Malaysia my first surprise was the amount of money people were carrying on the streets. Everyone had these big man purses full of cash. Back home there’s only one casino at Highlands, mostly for regular customers, but in Macau they were mostly tourists and they were spending a lot!

What are the biggest changes you have seen in your section of the industry?

The fast adoption of new technology. We have brought a lot of new technology and innovation to this market and the customers have embraced it. New cabinets with multi layer games, multi features and they’re all playing. And also changing the minds of the operators to do more. 

What have you found most challenging, or memorable?

A big step for electronic gaming happened with the opening of Galaxy Macau. They were open to new ideas and concepts, not afraid to move away from the traditional and were able to create something special. After that many others followed and introduced new technology into their mix.

Share a curious/funny episode that could only have happened in Macau?

How we all go and come around. Seems like no one can just let go and forget about Macau. In many instances, friends and acquaintances from the hospitality and gaming industry whom I’d known in the early days left only to return, simply because it’s still THE leading the industry in many ways. Again, being able to work alongside veterans and pioneers of this industry is truly an honour, especially those who had helped in my career growth in the past 12 years here. I am looking forward to see further liberalisation and diversities Macau is about to introduce in the near future, which I believe will attract more familiar faces back to where it all started.”

How are you expecting Macau to evolve in the next 20 years?

Everything will be electronic. Only VIP areas will have live dealers. Think about it, today it’s our parents playing, 20 years from now  the players will be us and we’ll be looking for the games we grew up with. Also, it’s very challenging for operators to keep up with the labour costs for tables. Makes sense that, 20 years on, only the VIP will get to play with live dealers because they’ll be the only ones that can afford it. By then everything on the casino floor will be cashless, contactless. The player will use their smartphone to credit their ETG and just play, move on to the next game…