Asia’s gaming markets have seen a strong first half, with Macau, the Philippines and Cambodia leading the way, prompting some analysts to revise upwards their targets for the full year. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing; the fatal attack on Resorts World Manila lead to a suspension of its gambling operations in June, while South Korea continues to underperform after a diplomatic spat with China, which banned tour groups after Seoul agreed to deploy a U.S. missile shield.
Macau Legend has big plans for Laos after its $42 million purchase of Savan Vegas, but the Laos market remains volatile and somewhat hostile to foreign investment. Laos hit the headlines last year when the government put Savan Vegas out for bids having seized the resort from its foreign owners, Sanum Investments, over alleged tax liabilities. The sale generated interest from six buyers, including Macau junket promoter Iao Kun Group and casino operator Macau Legend.
To coin a popular phrase, 2016 really has been a year of two halves in the Asian gaming industry. To continue with the cliches, it’s also fair to say there have been a few curved balls along the route. Industry experts gave us their views of the year just passed, with the good, the bad and the ugly.
Proxy betting is booming in Asia’s grey markets, with live broadcasts of table games thought to be pulling in a chunk of Macau’s missing VIP billions, but this growth has led to concern over unclear regulations. Experts say that regulation will benefit the entire industry, though regulators should take care not to confuse the increasingly popular video-streaming services with online gambling.
The challenges presented by Asia’s grey markets and consumer demands for quick-fix gambling solutions were among the key issues addressed at the iGaming Asia Congress in Macau last week. Experts provided views on topics ranging from the perennial lure of China, to the “sleeping giant” that is India, as well as outlining opportunities in fledgling markets such as Vietnam.