The Asian Gaming 50 - 2009: 31-40Sep 16, 2009
The Asian Gaming 50 - 2009: 31-40
31 (36) Steven Lim Tow Boon
Group Executive Director, RGB Ltd
RGB Ltd describes itself as a ‘one-stop hub’ for supplying, manufacturing, refurbishing and servicing casino equipment, as well as amusement and electronic gaming machines.
The company, based in Penang, Malaysia, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dreamgate Corporation Berhad. RGB makes original gaming equipment under RGBGames branding; produces other famous gaming machine brands under licence; and markets equipment on behalf of RGB and its licensing partners. An example is that RGB is an agent for Chicago-based equipment supplier WMS in the new Singapore casino market. RGB’s parent Dreamgate also has experience as a gaming operator. It is an equity investor in boutique casinos, hotels and clubs with gaming licences across the Asia Pacific region.
RGB is leveraging on its extensive contracts in the regional industry following its decision to become directly involved in the operation of the slot machines at L’Arc, an SJM-licensed Macau casino, scheduled to open in the fourth quarter.
Steven Lim, RGB’s Group Executive Director, has had an exceptionally busy 2009. He has helped to oversee not only the preparatory work for L’Arc, but also the launch of new RGB Games products across the region. That includes the award-winning video slot game Shanghai Night. In the spring, RGB entered the Macau slot equipment market for the first time, judging that the timing was right given that slots now account for more than 5% of gross gaming revenue in Macau.
“The timing for us to go into Macau now was right, because if you look at Macau in 2005 the slot machine revenue was only a little over 2% of the casino gross. Since then, it’s increased tremendously,” Mr Lim told Inside Asian Gaming earlier this year.
Mr Lim, who started his career with Dreamgate in 1988, is a graduate of Brock University, Canada. He has more than 20 years of experience in the gaming and amusement machine industry, including as an adviser to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)—that country’s regulator-cum-operator. Mr Lim is also a keen soccer player and soccer supporter and sits on the management committees of a number of social and membership clubs in Malaysia.
32 (-) John Gomes
Managing Director, IGT Asia
IGT’s acquisition of the assets of Progressive Gaming International (PGI) in January marked a milestone in IGT’s business development in the expanding Asian gaming market.
PGI’s radio frequency identification chip systems and automated table equipment are complementary to, rather than directly competitive with, the IGT Advantage® suite of products. The combination of the two product lines has allowed IGT to cover even more market segments. This is important in an Asian region that is culturally very diverse in terms of player preferences and casino management culture.
John Gomes, the Managing Director of IGT Asia, has been leading the company’s expansion in the region. He was also responsible for the launch in Asia recently of IGT’s well received REELdepth™ games, which use Multi-Layer Display® technology to create 3-D virtual reels. The launch was at Resorts World at Manila, the largest casino in Philippines, which opened at the end of August.
Mr Gomes joined IGT in 2004 as General Manager for Russia with the responsibility of setting up and running the company’s business and offices in that emerging gaming market. Prior to his job with IGT in Russia, Mr Gomes worked for the biggest local gaming operator in that country.
He has more than two decades of experience in gaming. He started his career with leading leisure group Sun International. When gaming was legalised in South Africa, Mr Gomes joined Tsogo Sun Gaming before relocating to Russia.
33 (32) Paul Steelman
President and CEO, Paul Steelman Design Group
World-leading casino architect Paul Steelman draws his insights from a career spanning over two decades, during which he has designed several market-revolutionizing casino properties, from the original ‘integrated resort’, The Mirage in Las Vegas, to the unique stadium-style gaming venue that is Sands Macao.
Mr Steelman’s latest Asian creation is the Hard Rock Casino, which opened on 1st June at Macau’s City of Dreams resort on Cotai. Even with the modest-sized Hard Rock Casino, Mr Steelman continues pushing the envelope in terms of gaming-venue design. “There's no casino in the world that's like it,” he explains. “The single casino with a diversified hotel use spread around—there's none like it. CityCenter [MGM MIRAGE’s US$8 billion mixed-use casino development in Las Vegas] will be similar to it, but doesn't have the same planning characteristics that this one has.”
Using lessons from behavioural psychology, Mr Steelman has formulated a set of “rules of casino design” intended to lure people into casinos and keep them there. These rules include ensuring exits—actual exits, not just exit signs—are clearly visible (which apparently keeps players at the tables for an average of five minutes longer) and using curved rather than straight corridors (which makes visitors feel there is more to the property than they have seen, encouraging them to return).
Following the tremendous market response to Sands Macao in the wake of its May 2004 opening, Mr Steelman’s services have been much in demand throughout Asia, though that demand has been tempered recently owing to the credit crisis-induced slowdown in new casino resort development. Only when liquidity returns can several other ambitious Paul Steelman designs—including the US$2 billion Macao Studio City adjacent to Venetian Macao and the US$4.2 billion beachfront Ho Tram Strip destination resort—be realised.
According to Mr Steelman, themed casinos are faux pas and today’s trends are tomorrow’s design disasters. One sinking copycat theme we were spared from was a Titanic casino. In 1998, immediately after the movie’s tremendous box office success, Mr Steelman recalls “a guy called me up, and brought in a drawing made by a sign guy. Here was the Titanic casino with melting ice in Las Vegas. That year I saw four people come in with the Titanic Casino idea.