• Casino business growth depends on mass market

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    MACAU, China: The Global Gaming Expo Asia kicked off on Tuesday here with experts saying the growth in casino business is anchored on an increase in the number of small rollers or what they call mass market.

    And, according to the experts, the Philippines is no exception to the global trend.

    “Before the boom, there [had been]two types of casino players, the high rollers or VIPs and the ordinary or curious people. [Now], [the number of]VIPs [is]increasing tremendously. In effect, a major part of them slide to premium mass, while the larger population remains at mass base,” Allan Amparo, senior officer of the Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp. told The Manila Times.

    Amparo, who is here as observer together with other Pagcor officials, said casinos are now about a trillion-peso business in the Philippines with the addition of Solaire Resort & Casino.

    Pagcor, he added, generated P36 billion in revenue last year with Solaire operating for only a few months in 2013.

    Amparo said the casino business in Manila will further boom with the addition of two more establishments—the City of Dreams of Shoe Mart magnate Henry Sy and the one being planned by the Okada group of Japan—in the near future.

    An expo forum here on Tuesday featured three speakers: Gamal Aziz, president of Wynn Macau; Grant Bowie, chief executive of MGM China; and Grant Chum, senior vice president for global gaming strategy of Las Vegas Sands.

    During the forum moderated by Tim Craighead, Bloomberg’s senior gaming analyst, the speakers said mass market-driven gaming has three drivers—accommodation, game operations and non-gaming offerings.

    Bowie said VIPs compose the 20 percent that generate 80 percent of revenue but operators, he added, should map out strategies to develop the mass market.

    The keynote address was delivered by Pansy Ho, co-chairman and executive director of MGM China, who said gaming in Asia creates tourism-hopping in the region. She added that attractions such as hotel accommodation and hospitality play an important role in luring visitors.

    The expo posed a big question to Japan: “Will the country welcome casino operation since “it has never [come]close to legalizing it?”

    The experts said Japan should consider the experience of Singapore, which has captured

    the benefits of gaming without damaging its culture.

    With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics looming, Japan needs to consider new attractions. It recently said that it will soon not require visa in order to generate from tourism much-needed Olympic funding.

    In Russia, which has banned gambling in major cities, casino operators are elated with the development of Vladivostok, a region adjacent to Asia, as center of gaming.

    Meanwhile, Macau is still considered the gambling capital of Asia. The experts at the expo, however, are still knocking on investors’ doors to add more hotel rooms, as more casino players come in.

    The expo is now on its eighth year. With the huge and glamorous Venetian Macau as venue, it brought together the industry’s stakeholders and presented the latest gaming machines, security devices, surveillance systems and consulting devices for commercial casinos and service improvements.

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