A look at the overall trends in the casino industry for this year does not throw too many surprises at us. The gaming centers in Asia-Pacific continue to represent the present and the future of gambling – worldwide. Those who continue to ignore the writing on the wall on the pretense of a relative lack of high rolling assets in these markets are digging their own graves. The breadth of the numbers generated by this region not only make good for this minor deficit, it actually leaves its European and American counterparts right in the dust.
What’s New in the Global Casino Industry?
According to the latest Morgan Stanley projections, Macau – already the world’s largest casino market – is poised to grow at a whopping 13% this year. This, after it had already generated revenues touching US$38 billion in 2012, with December recording a growth rate of 19.6%, is quite an achievement. The worldwide gaming industry will continue to expand in 2013 on the back of this roaring Asian success.
Outside Asia, there is little worth getting excited about, with the exception of the development plans for the Primorye Gaming Zone in Russia. This new centre adjoining the eastern port of Vladivostok will, in fact, technically be yet another Asian gaming hub – not a European one. Most notable developments elsewhere, sadly, again have to do with government intervention and overreach. In 2013, gaming companies will be subjected to increasing control by the US and international law enforcement agencies. Expect more scrutiny in financial transactions and business practices in the casino industry globally.
The Roar of the Asian Tiger
A January-end report by Galaviz & Company predicts Macau’s 2013 gross revenues at US$40 billion, representing a growth rate of 9% per annum. This gold-rush like situation has triggered a wave of developments in an attempt to replicate this kind of success throughout the region. Both established and transitional markets, such as Singapore, South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, are exhibiting an ever growing zeal to develop their local and international tourism markets with ample provisions and investment opportunities for the casino industry. Rapid economic growth and rising disposable incomes are fuelling longer local beelines for gaming and auxiliary services. Japan has finally made casinos legal. Vietnam has made a start by legalizing sports betting. Even Australia is contributing to this Asia-Pacific movement, with the Sydney casino market pegged to host the largest poker tournament of this year.
Gaming Trends for the United States
The biggest movement in the US gaming scene will come from its traditional operators while they try and establish a noticeable presence in the Asia-Pacific. Some online operators might attempt to go the brick and mortar way, albeit just to gain a better online licensing foothold. At a local level, states with an existing casino industry, will try to expand it further. The rest will continue to push for legalization. New European players might continue to attempt gaining entry in the US, especially to the Nevada market. So expect increased federal government interference, and red tape.
The European picture is bleak. Another currency crisis – and you can rule Germany out from a rescue act, which experts predict might itself enter a full-fledged recession in 2013. This of course, will have a direct impact on the casino industry here. It wouldn’t be surprising to witness Asian takeovers of European operators. Others will go the American way in trying to penetrate the Asian centers.
Overall, Asia will carry the global gaming industry through yet another year of prosperity. The only things to guard against, and be wary of, would be increased volumes and degrees of regulation. Even Macau will not escape this abomination, with rising levels of scrutiny of its junket operators already becoming a cause for concern.