Macau proxy betting market expanding

    Macau is seeing good growth in proxy betting, which may make up about a tenth of the territory’s VIP market, Inteluck director Tony Tong said at an iGaming panel session at G2E Asia.
    The growth has come despite the fact that the more popular segment of the market elsewhere — live video streaming — is illegal in Macau. Proxy players are only able to place their bets through the telephone.
    Macau generated gross gaming revenue of $45.2 billion in 2013, with about 66 percent of that coming from the VIP market, putting the market at roughly $3 billion.
    Moderator Shaun McCamley, Managing Partner of EPA Management, said he had been told that Wynn Resorts takes about 50 proxy bets a week via telephone on its main gaming floor. Tong estimated that proxy betting accounted for about 10 percent of total VIP revenue.
    Usually the market is centred on VIP play.
    “Unless you go to the VIP rooms you will not see it,” Tong said. “There needs to be a minimum deposit of $3 million a table and you are also not permitted to play with others.”
    Tong said there had been efforts in the past to persuade the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau to permit video streaming, which is popular in the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, but without success. Although the anonymity in the proxy betting system was appealing to some players, the reasons behind it were often more a factor of a lack of time, or visa restrictions which encourage clients to play remotely.
    The system is also thought to be popular as unlike internet gambling, proxy betting is virtually impossible to track, with no IP address as in online gambling.
    Betting is illegal in China and a question was raised by the audience as to how proxy bets could be taken from the mainland if all gambling there is illegal.
    There is a large element of trust needed in the telephone proxy betting system, with clients relying heavily on their agents, as well as the credibility of the Macau casino industry. Tong said he had heard many complaints from other Asian jurisdictions where players claim they have been cheated.
    “Other markets have credibility issues,” he said. “If they are choosing telebetting they will choose to do it in their own region and probably in Macau.”
    In a day dedicated to the iGaming sphere, credibility, trust and regulations were high on the agenda.
    David Leppo, the Bangkok-based CEO of Footballbet.com, said he felt it was virtually impossible to regulate the online sphere and any resulting rules are likely to be largely unenforceable. However, fellow panel members disagreed.
    Magnus Grinneback, Director of Asia at Gibraltar-based sports-betting company BetVictor, said regulation provided players with a layer of protection, setting out formal channels to deal with complaints, which added to consumer confidence.
    “Money laundering is a big problem, but we are subject to the same regulation as the financial services industry. I do not think that large amounts of money could sail through a properly regulated company, so it’s very important.
    Other iGaming sessions focused on the convergence between land and online casinos and the acquisition and retention of clients.
    According to U.S.-focused SuperData Research, the number of monthly players of social and mobile casino games has shrunk to 95 million from 109 million, prompting companies to focus more on retention and maximizing profit from existing clients and away from new client acquisition.
    Jonathan Pettemerides, Group Business Development Director TCSJohnHuxley, said there was a huge cost involved with retaining online clients without huge economies of scale.
    There remained general agreement however that market potential for online and mobile is Asia is high. The most popular sites are those that are able to recreate the casino experience, with players looking for brands and games that they are familiar with.
    John Connelly, Senior Vice President of Business Development and Interactive Bally Technologies, said research has shown that 84 percent of those playing social media games had visited a traditional casino within the past two months.