Technology and electronic table games were the two subjects most frequently cited as important trends for 2019 among the gaming industry’s largest suppliers at the MGS Entertainment Show in Macau last month.
This year’s show, which ran from Nov. 13 to Nov. 15, sought to focus on innovation in the entertainment space. Though given online gaming is banned in Macau, some of the more cutting edge concepts that push convergence between the land-based on online sectors were not explored.
The one product segment that seemed to gather the attention of most suppliers was the potential for electronic table games across Asia. In a market that has been dominated by the baccarat table, the ETG has helped bridge the divide between machines and live action and as a result has seen strong growth in Macau.
The industry there has been dominated by LT Game, but other suppliers are pushing hard to increase their foothold, introducing different style games and innovations. Elsewhere in Asia, where new resorts continue to proliferate, many see potential for strong growth.
Following are some insights from suppliers at MGS about the Asian markets and their prospects heading into the new year, in alphabetical order.
Asia Pioneer Entertainment
Macau-based gaming supplier, Asia Pioneer Entertainment, went public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2017. The company was at MGS this year with its global strategic partners, Jumbo Technology, Konami Australia, Spintec and Transact Technologies and said the show was a big success.
“We have sold out most of the show machines and received new orders from Southeast Asia and Macau customers. We are confident in maintaining the company’s steady growth in the future and maximizing returns for investors,” it said.
Over the past year, APE said the biggest trend it has seen was the popularity of one-on-one stand-alone electronic table games and stadium multi games.
“The industry innovation is pushing towards skilled games yet regulators have yet to embrace this and allow new skilled games to come onto the gaming floor. With casinos looking to embrace more stadium games, we have seen many new setups with their eye-catching live screens taking more floor space.”
“The implementation of Macau DICJ 1.1 standards on slots meant that many older generation machines were finally retired off the floor and replaced by a new generation of slots.”
In terms of growth, the company, like many in our survey, sees strong potential in South East Asia and in Vietnam and Cambodia.
For the coming year, APE says to look out for the Konami Horse Racing (Fortune Cup), Jumbo video multi game and Spintec stand-alone machines, which it says “everybody is enthusiastic about.”
“We have worked hard with Konami team and Wynn to make this a superb innovation into the Macau gaming floor.”
Aruze Gaming Senior Sales Manager Kevin Lee said the company managed to capture its target audience at the show, with its latest MUSO cabinet and X-Station Super Big Wheel & Lucky Roulette.
The award-winning Muso Triple-27 cabinet features LED backlighting that gives a 360-degree presence on the casino floor. When the cabinets are connected, a sequential lighting feature occurs on the back panel which provides an exciting way to attract players.
Lee also pointed to the growth of electronic table games products as being a key trend over the past year.
For Aruze, in terms of geography, the Philippines and Indo-China are both shaping up to be strong markets.
For 2019, Lee says to expect more critical mass driven products and game development.
“Expect more diversity and interactive gaming solutions,” he says.
International Game Technology
IGT Sales Director Asia, Michael Cheers, said 2018 had been a strong show for the company.
“We hosted many productive meetings and product tours with our customers, and I am confident that we have the right portfolio in place to improve IGT’s position in Macau and the surrounding markets.”
“The majority of the products within our MGS stand were market-ready and market-approved for Macau – and several of the newest products that we showcased such as Hyper Hits and Golden Egypt can be found on Macau casino floors today. Very shortly we have our first bank of Fortune Fury going live in Macau as well.”
Cheers said IGT has many customers who are keen to diversify their slot floors.
“We are very focused on the opportunities in Macau and other markets throughout Asia. Do we wish we have more slot machines on casinos floors? Sure, but I think the same could be said of every casino supplier. We have a plan in place to help fuel IGT’s growth and that of our customers, and we are executing against that plan. We released several new products to the market, Hyper Hits and Prize Disk titles, following G2E Asia and we maintain a close dialogue with our customers about those games’ performance, player feedback, etc.”
In terms of slot machine floor share, Cheers say Macau holds the most growth opportunity for IGT.
“That said, there are many product verticals and geographies throughout Asia where we identify meaningful growth opportunities. For example, IGT is the leading casino systems provider in Asia – with IGT Advantage powering all of the newest casinos on the Cotai Strip. Even given that tremendous market penetration, we’re focused on growth through additional systems solutions such as mobile innovations, bonusing apps and more. Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia are all strategically important markets for IGT as well, and we maintain committed to servicing customers in those markets with localized products and services.
For the coming year, Cheers says IGT has a rich pipeline of content and hardware.
“Our linked progressives for Asia such as Fortune Gong and The Fury family of games represent a product vertical that I am particularly optimistic about for our Asia-based customers. Both titles are backed with a large library of base games, and are housed on our most successful cabinet from the Crystal hardware series – the CrystalCurve.”
Cheers, who recently relocated to Macau, said IGT expects to continue to build momentum and is focused on getting its market-attuned games to customers.
Interblock Vice President of Asia, Michael Hu called MGS 2018 a “great show with quality customers.”
This year, the company noted more R&D developments showcased, in particular adding in more game features to boost the house percentage hold.
In terms of geography, Interblock says Vietnam has become the fast-growth gaming jurisdiction. The company has installed more than 2,600 machines there over the past 10 years and is the dominant player in the market.
It is now looking into innovations such as mechanical generators on top of the ETG play stations for a real live table experience.
For 2019, Interblock sees further growth.
“More demand from the casinos and more innovative ETGs from the suppliers therefore more growth in ETG sector for 2019!,” Hu says.
Walter Chan, business development sales manager at LT Game, said the company was satisfied with the outcome of the show, having signed some business deals and welcomed as many as 350 people to their booth.
For the coming year, Chan said the company expects to focus on technology and its new range of slot machine products it has been developing. However, at the show, a surprise star attraction turned out to be a chip tracking system, which is currently going through the license-approval process with the Macau regulator, the DICJ. The system uses table-mounted cameras and will flash an alert to a monitor should it detect any anomalies in distribution, or any security concerns.
“We did not expect such an interest,” says Chan. “The product was tucked away at the back of a booth with one dealer and he was really busy.”
“Next year we are planning a focus on South East Asia with some products that are currently undergoing license processing,” he said, adding the focus will be on the new slot range with Melco Resorts & Entertainment having already partnered with the company in Macau.
The company has new slot products: Bowl of Gold; Hong Yun Gao Zhao; Lucky Red Fortune and Tekken, God of the Sea.
There will also be a major focus on technology, with the roll out of the second generation of dealer robots.
“They are much improved “smoother and quicker and much more realistic,” Chan says. “It’s all about reducing human costs and errors.”
LT is another supplier looking to tap into enthusiasm for horse betting, with new products being tested in Wynn and Galaxy. Chan says the products will give clients the choice of betting on a wide range of jockeys around the clock.
Ken Jolly, Scientific Games managing director and vice president Asia, also sees further strong potential for electronic table games and says the adoption of new technologies will help the industry enhance the experience for casino goers.
“We’re bringing over ETGs. I think if we keep developing other kinds of ETGs with different style games, I think that will really help drive the electronic side of the business,” he said.
Jolly pointed to the potential of themed stadium areas in casinos.
“I think there will be more of that as we go forward where areas will be themed, like James Bond areas. There are other products that are being developed where other things could be put onto large screens. That will come to this market providing the government allows the technology.
That’s a way for the market to progress.”
However, Jolly said it was important for regulators in Macau to permit operators to adopt new technologies. In a highly competitive market like Macau, it’s important that each casino can offer a real experience to the customer to keep them coming back, he says.
“There are technologies out there now, that through the use of mobile, or other tools, could add and enhance the experience. It’s important that the technology that’s coming into gaming in the rest of the world is allowed into the Macau market.”
“We all have it and we all want to bring it. Macau needs to move forward with the technology that’s coming into the worldwide gaming industry and not be negative to new tech that will continue to drive the gaming business.”
“Macau will be here for a long time and it will be a strong market. I am very bullish about Macau but it needs to continue with new technologies.”
Jolly admits the mainland Chinese gambler still has an overwhelming preference for the baccarat table, with Macau only getting about 6 percent of revenue from electronic gaming machines. There has been growth in slots in recent years, but that has come mainly from the addition of new supply as the Cotai IRs have opened up.
“It’s not dynamically growing,” he says. “The slot is not the game of choice for the Mainland Chinese, but certainly ETGs will continue to drive more. If we get a player base that’s used to electronic gaming they may eventually move onto slot machines pending the betting and excitement experience.”
Spintec Gaming Technology
Slovenia-based Spintec Gaming Technology was at the show with its Macau distributor Asia Pioneer Entertainment.
Asia is one of the most important markets for the company, accounting for 40 percent of all deals worldwide in 2018, according to Regional Sales Manager Asia, Primoz Krsevan.
“At this year’s MGS edition, we shook hands and made deals with operators in the Philippines and Vietnam. We already have a few installations in these two markets, operators know us and they are very satisfied with how our products perform on their casino floors so the next logical step was to expand.”
Spintec is one of the few manufacturers that has solutions for both compact and amphitheatre set-ups.
The company said the majority of interest was on virtual stand-alone playing stations that Spintec presented for the very first time in Asia. Stand-alone virtual station is usually a great choice for smaller casinos, because it is space-efficient. But it is not only limited to small casinos, since it offers a player a sense of intimacy, which is a huge benefit also for bigger casino floors.
“We are always very happy to hear positive feedback from operators that already have our products installed. We had many visitors stopping at our booth that are impressed with Spintec’s first installations of amphitheatre multi-game and we are already signing deals and making new orders for these setups.”
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