Slotegrator caught up with Vicky Chan, Deputy General Manager of Asia Pioneer Entertainment and General Manager of Asia Gaming Brief, to hear about how the industry has changed in the last decade and a half, which Asian markets she’s most excited about, and how she feels about the future of gambling in Asia.
Slotegrator: Tell us a little bit about Asia Pioneer Entertainment — how the company started, what it does, and where you see it going in the future.
Vicky Chan: Asia Pioneer Entertainment (APE) was founded in 2006 as a supplier of electronic gaming equipment and services for casinos in Macau and other regions in Asia. Over the years, APE have expanded their offerings to include a wide range of gaming and non-gaming solutions, including slot machines, electronic table games, casino consultancy service and vending machine operation. Their goal is to become a leading provider of gaming technology and services in the Asian market, and the company sees a lot of potential for growth in the coming years.
S: You joined the gaming industry in 2008. How has the industry changed since then?
VC: The industry has undergone significant changes since I joined the gaming industry in 2008. The most notable change is the rapid growth of Macau gaming industry. After the pandemic, online gaming and mobile gaming grew tremendously, which has transformed the way people play and interact with games. We have also seen increased competition in the land-based casino sector, as more countries in Asia have opened up to casino gaming in recent years.
S: How about your work with Asia Gaming Brief? What drew you to the general manager role?
VC: I was drawn to the general manager role at Asia Gaming Brief (AGB) because of my interest in the gaming industry and my desire to help promote and support the industry in Asia. AGB is a leading source of news and information for the gaming industry in Asia, and I saw an opportunity to help grow and expand the company's reach and influence in the region.
S: APE is well-established in Macau, but you’ve recently been expanding into other Southeast Asian countries. Which markets in the region do you see as having the most potential?
VC: We see a lot of potential in Southeast Asia, particularly in countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines. Japan recently legalized casino gambling and is in the process of developing integrated resorts, while Thailand is in the progress of legalizing on gambling business. These markets are growing rapidly and have a lot of potential for the gaming industry.
S: Player preferences vary by region, and even from country to country. What are some of the most striking preferences you’ve noticed across the Asian market?
VC: One of the most striking preferences we've noticed is the importance of “Fortune” in many Asian cultures. This has a big impact on the types of games that are popular in the region, as well as the design and layout of gaming floors. While there are similarities between gaming markets in Asia, each market has its own unique characteristics and challenges. In Macau, traditional table games such as baccarat, blackjack, sic bo and roulette are mostly played by premium players, while slot machines are popular in casino mass gaming floors and slot clubs; in the Philippines, in addition to traditional live table products, there are also electronic table games and slot machine with huge jackpots for players. Bingo and online casinos are also popular in this market; in Vietnam, there are many premium clubs offering electronic table game products and slot machines.
S: How do you think the Asian market differs from others around the globe, like Europe or LatAm? What should operators from these regions keep in mind when trying to appeal to Asian audiences?
VC: The Asian market has its own unique characteristics and preferences, which can be quite different from those in other regions around the world. Operators should keep in mind the importance of fortune, as well as the strong social and family ties in many Asian cultures. It's also important to be aware of the regulatory and cultural differences in each country.
S: How do you see the land-based segment’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic going? Will Macau bounce back to its former glory, or will casinos need to adjust their business model?
VC: The land-based segment's recovery from the pandemic will likely be steady. Macau is already starting to see some signs of recovery, and with less junket businesses, casinos are adjusting their business models to adapt to changing consumer preferences and behaviors.
S: You have a decade and a half of experience in the gaming sector. What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
VC: One of the most important lessons I've learned is the importance of building strong relationships with customers and partners. In the gaming industry, trust and reputation are everything, and it's essential to be transparent and honest in all dealings.
S: Games in the online sector have all sorts of gamification and new kinds of games. Do you think the land-based sector can compete by offering similar levels of innovation?
VC: Absolutely. The land-based sector has a lot of potential for innovation and growth, particularly in areas like experiential gaming and immersive technologies. As long as operators are willing to invest in new technologies and embrace innovation, they can offer players a unique and engaging experience.
S: Here’s an open-ended one: what changes do you expect to see in Asia’s land-based and online gambling markets in the near future?
VC: In the near future, I expect to see increased competition in both the land-based and online businesses. I also expect to see more consolidation and partnerships among gaming companies, as well as increased attention to responsible gaming practices and regulations. Overall, the gaming industry in Asia is poised for continued growth and evolution, and I'm excited to be a part of it.