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G2E Asia is back in Macau with a packed schedule

Friday, 29 May 2009 00:00
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Gaming manufacturers and operators can't change world economics on their own, but they can do something about maximising the appeal to customers of their game content and their casino real estate. Global Gaming Expo Asia 2009—better known as G2E Asia 2009—the trade show and conference at CotaiExpo™ on the Venetian Macao site between 2nd and 4th June, strives as previously to be a must attend event for anyone in the Asia Pacific gaming industry. This year a focus is on dealing with current market challenges and turning them where possible to advantage.

At the time Inside Asian Gaming went to press, more than 125 companies had signed up for the exhibition, including most of the world's leading gaming equipment and systems manufacturers. This year the show's floor space has been expanded to 23,000 square meters, guaranteeing exhibitors and delegates plenty of elbowroom.

Here IAG gives an at-a-glance guide to what's on offer at this year's event. Listings were based on information available at the time IAG went to press. For the latest information please consult the event's official website: http://www.g2easia.com/ or refer to the official printed schedule distributed by the organisers, the American Gaming Association and Reed Exhibitions, at the venue.

One of the highlights of the conference will be an opening keynote address by Dr Stanley Ho, Chairman of SJM Holdings Ltd—rightly considered the father of Macau casino gaming in the modern era. Dr Ho will be presented with a G2E Asia Visionary Award at the event—only the second time the accolade has been given. The award recognises outstanding leaders who have contributed to the success and expansion of the Asian gaming entertainment market.

Family business

The Ho dynasty is making G2E Asia a family affair this year. Dr Ho's son Lawrence Ho, Co-Chairman and CEO of Melco Crown Entertainment, which is due to open its City of Dreams resort on Cotai only days after the conference, will be the guest at a special Keynote Luncheon. The event on Tuesday 2nd June is open only to participants in G2E Asia's accompanying Gaming Management Certificate Program to be held during the show, and to registered conference attendees.


Vendor Focus

G2E Asia offers access to the latest machines and the people who produce them

One of the highlights of G2E Asia is its ability to offer opportunities not only to see the latest gaming machines and systems on the exhibition floor, but also to allow those registered as conference delegates to hear the suppliers and their customers debating current industry topics in discussion groups.

One of the panels on the second conference day of G2E Asia 2009 on 3rd June is Excellent Equipment: Vendors Roundtable. Acquiring equipment that is both high quality and appropriate to a specific Asian market is of intense interest to casino managements in the region, at a time when slots in some markets have been bucking the downward revenue trend seen in the table games sector. Speakers announced for the session are: Ken Jolly, General Manager, Asia Pacific, Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Limited; Cath Burns, Vice President & Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Bally Technologies, Inc.; Kurt Quartier, Vice President International Casino Markets, International Game Technology (IGT); and Kent Young, General Manager, Executive Vice President, Aruze Gaming America, Inc.

The session will focus on some of the cutting-edge technology that will be on display on the exhibit floor at G2E Asia. Vendors will describe how this equipment will spur more play, more time-on-device and create a buzz that spreads through the casino industry. Panellists also will discuss differences in play and the learning curve required for developing and marketing games in the Asian market. The session moderator Marcus Prater, Executive Director, Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers, will lead the discussion.

Growth in Games: Slot Directors' Roundtable, is also part of the same seminar track headlined The Gaming Floor, covering table games and slot technology applications, operations and IT. Slot Directors' Roundtable will feature some of the leading executives among the operators in the slots sector including: Matt Hurst, Vice President, Gaming Machines, City of Dreams; Peter Johns, Director of Slot Operations, MGM GRAND Macau; and Tammy Ng, Deputy Manager, Slots, SJM Corporate Slots Division. They will discuss the preference and playing habits of Asian customers and look at the possible future of the slot segment in Asia.

Another topical subject, this time on the third day of the conference on Thursday 4th June under the Challenge & Opportunity track is A Delicate Balance: Budget, Staff and Customer Service. Speakers will discuss how to weigh each line item on a budget to best determine where cuts can be made with least detriment to the customer's experience. Suggestions on how to reduce staffing levels while maintaining the morale of remaining employees also will be reviewed in the session.

Finding Finance: Capital Expenditures in a Difficult Market, also held on Thursday, will bring together financial experts and industry executives, including Robert Drake, Group Chief Financial Officer, Galaxy Entertainment Group, and Andrew Zarnett, Managing Director, Deutsche Bank Securities, to discuss the available options. The session will be moderated by another expert with first hand experience of fund raising for casino projecs—Adam Rosenberg, Managing Director, Head of Gaming Group, Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Educational

The G2E Asia Gaming Management Certificate programme is back by popular demand with an overall theme this year of Managing Today's Operations and Planning for the Future. This executive programme, produced in partnership with gaming professors at the University of Macau and the University of Nevada Las Vegas Singapore, includes educational workshops designed to help new casino managers in Asia further their knowledge of current gaming trends in Macau.

During a full day of interactive educational workshops led by gaming experts and professors, attendees will learn about: increasing customer service; developing leadership skills; enhancing employee satisfaction; creating casino marketing plans; and understanding the importance of responsible gaming programmes in Asia.

Attendees will receive an official certificate of their achievement from both sponsoring universities as well as G2E. The programme is limited to 100 registrants, and is a separate purchase from the overall G2E Asia Conference Program.


Hot Topics

G2E Asia 2009 offers a wealth of industry knowledge

Day One Conference—Other Sessions

The Global Markets Forum held on Tuesday 2nd June will cover a range of strategic issues.

Asian Operations: Gaming Across the Pacific Rim looks at how provision of land-based gaming has increased in the region and how consumers and operators have responded to the changes. Experts from jurisdictions such as Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia, the Philippines, India and South Korea will discuss the many opportunities and challenges for operating in the Pacific Rim.

Asian Opportunities: The Potential of New Gaming Jurisdictions presents an opportunity for delegates to hear speakers including Michael Chen, President, Asia-Pacific Region, Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. and Paul Steelman, President, Steelman Partners, the leading casino design consultancy, give their take on the regional market, where several countries are either considering or are in the process of legalising casino gambling. Taiwan recently sanctioned gaming on several offshore islands. Japan has flirted with the gaming industry for a few years. Thailand may choose to respond to the growth of gaming in Southeast Asia. Vietnam is preparing for an experiment with gaming resorts in Ho Tram. Guam and other Pacific Islands also are considering using gaming as a tourist attraction. During this session, Mr Chen will discuss the political and business realities, legal hurdles and market concerns that come hand-in-hand with the introduction of gaming in these markets.

Frank Fahrenkopf Jr, President & CEO, American Gaming Association will act as moderator for the session. The other contributors are Lloyd Nathan, President, MGM MIRAGE Global Gaming Development, and Takahiro Usui, Manager, Aruze Gaming America Inc., Macau.

Lessons Learned: Re-making Macau, as the title suggests, will cover the challenges facing the local market, where a number of economic and political factors have slowed the explosive growth seen up to the third quarter of 2008. One of the questions under discussion is whether in future the Macau market will grow in a more controlled, less frantic way, and whether in the long run that might lead to more success for all the players. The speakers include Dr Fanny Vong, President, Macau Institute For Tourism Studies.

Cooperation and Conflict: An Overview of Asia's Regulatory Environment will bring together representatives from several jurisdictions to discuss how each approaches regulatory oversight, integrity and technology as well as operator compliance. Panellists, including: Jorge Godinho, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Macau; Fred Gushin, Managing Director, Spectrum Gaming Group; and

Sam Basile, VP, Legal & Compliance and General Counsel, Aruze Gaming America, will also discuss how regulators and operators are working together today in light of current economic constraints.

Day Two Conference—Other Sessions

In the conference track Casino Design, experts explain how architecture and engineering of resort properties helps not only to realise investors' and operators' visions, but also to support the bottom line by building in efficiency.

Going Green: Sustainable Construction for Casino Projects covers energy efficiency schemes that actively support the bottom line as well as enhance the public image of the resort operator. Building Excitement: Asian Style will review some of the projects planned, under construction, or scheduled to open in 2010 and beyond in the Asia Pacific region. The session, including contributions from Paul Steelman, President of Steelman Partners, the leading casino design consultancy, will discuss how the design segment of the casino industry has responded to the recent economic downturn and what it means for the integrated resort concept. The Integrated Resort: Scaled Down? will look at the challenges posed by the economic downturn to the funding, construction and marketing model for integrated resorts in Asia. Experts led by Michael Smith, Managing Director, Head of Asian Real Estate, Investment Banking Division, Goldman, Sachs & Co. will give their opinions on how the integrated resort can still work, whether in a smaller version or by being built in self-funding modules.

The Gaming Floor track covers table games and slot technology applications, operations and IT.

The topics include Standard Procedure: GSA's Protocol Certification Program presented by Peter DeRaedt, President, Gaming Standards Association. He will outline how GSA's communication standards, developed for system, gaming and peripheral devices, are being implemented by the world's leading gaming manufacturers. Mr DeRaedt will also lead discussion on how the standards will enhance interoperability and plug-and-play capabilities in back office systems, on the casino floor, across properties and elsewhere. Giving practical industry insights into the standards will be a panel consisting of: Ian Hughes, Senior Director of Engineering & Client Services, Gaming Laboratories International (GLI), World Headquarters; Adrian Marcu, Chief Architect, Engineering, International Game Technology (IGT); Manson Yip, Senior Client Project Manager, Bally Technologies, Inc.; and Kent Young, General Manager, Executive Vice President, Aruze Gaming America, Inc.

Turning the Tables: How to Increase Revenue and Profitability, will demonstrate how technology, customer service and dealer training can maximise the revenue and profits flowing through the pits on a casino floor. Experts including Gabe Hunterton, Senior Vice President, Casino Operations, MGM GRAND Macau and

Andrew Macaulay, Executive Vice President, Asia, Shuffle Master Inc. will explain how new gaming systems and upgraded RFID elements can track players and maintain the integrity of games. The session will also cover marketing, staff training and evaluation of results.

On the afternoon of day two of the conference, Making a Hand: Poker in Asia

will examine the state of the sport in Asia, the success of poker tournaments, the similarity of poker to other casino games popular in Asia and suggest ways to market poker to casino players in Asia. John Raczka, General Manager of Entertainment & Advertising, Macao Studio City, will be moderator for the session. Tom Hall, CEO and Executive Vice Chairman, AsianLogic, a leading developer, operator and manager of online casinos, online poker, multiplayer P2P and Asian games, and an operator of land based casino games including poker, will be a speaker.

The Marketing track explains developments in this young but growing discipline in the Asian gaming market.

Players' Clubs, Part 1: A Value Proposition looks at why the slot club cards found in many jurisdictions are not currently as popular with Asian players. Issues include the reluctance on the part of many consumers to identify themselves as well as a general unfamiliarity with the technology and its procedures. The session will explain why players' clubs offer as much value to the consumer as they do to a casino marketing department. The discussion will consider the finer points of establishing a player tracking programme and offer solutions for overcoming the challenges of doing so in the Asian market.

Players' Clubs, Part 2: The Evolution of Player Tracking looks at the importance of this methodology and its associated technology, offering delegates ways of determining the best set up for their operations. Speakers for the session include Jay Bertsch, Director, Systems Sales, Konami Gaming, Inc., and Stephen Karoul, Senior Vice President, Strategic Casino Marketing Asia, Marina Bay Sands Pte Ltd and Tony Tong, Co-founder, JIBO Technology Ltd.

Players' Clubs, Part 3: Creating Loyalty and Player Reinvestment, considers the role of returning some of the money gambled by a player to that player in the form of comps and discounts in an effort to create loyalty. The session will examine marketing expenditures that are forms of player reinvestment, define the player reinvestment rate and ranges found in a variety of competitive markets, and discuss the value of player reinvestment during a financial downturn.

The Alternatives: Web and Mobile Marketing will discuss how to use cell phones and other portable wireless communication technology to spread marketing messages. The panel, led by moderator Dr Andy Nazarechuk, Dean, University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) Singapore Campus, and including Victor Tong, CEO & President, PacificNet, Inc.will also look at the role of website design.

Mass Marketing: Who is the Asian Player and How to Market to Them focuses on the techniques and tools that can be used to bring players of all levels to a casino. Dr Desmond Lam, Visiting Senior Research Fellow, University of South Australia, will also talk about campaigns that have proved successful with Asian players and look at research into why they work.

Another important topic in maintaining game integrity and operator profitability is Security & Surveillance, which is also given its own track on day two.

Technology & Techniques: Trends in Security & Surveillance considers how even with current general budget constraints, security and surveillance executives are coping, and how to implement technological upgrades when money is tight. The panel also looks at how to anticipate technology trends and also stay ahead of the cheats during an economic downturn.

Video Views: Using Cutting Edge Technology in Surveillance explains how video content can be applied to policy enforcement and evidence collection to protect the business, as well as how it accelerates verification and dispute resolution. Other topics for debate include how to ensure operators adopt technological developments that are practical in the casino environment.

Interviews and the Investigation: Techniques and Practices covers best practice and culturally appropriate techniques when interviewing people during casino-related disputes.

Shape Up Your Staff: Security and Surveillance Workshop, aims to help delegates get the maximum performance from their security team. Brian Kelly, CEO of ATMAAC INTERNATIONAL will identify what he describes as current deficiencies in casino security training and how to overcome them, thus reducing risk, decreasing costs and increasing staff effectiveness.

The Wild Card track on day two of G2E Asia 2009 covers important topics not encompassed by other major industry themes

NCRG at G2E: Common Cause: Best Practices in CSR. The National Center for Responsible Gaming, based in the United States, has initiated this session on corporate social responsibility. CSR leaders from gaming jurisdictions around the world—including: John Catt, Vice President of Public Relations, SJM Joint Ventures and Business Developments and Kate Spilde Contreras, Chair, Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming, San Diego State University, will discuss responsible gaming, diversity, sustainability and community reinvestment programs. Judy Patterson, Senior Vice President & Executive Director, American Gaming Association will lead the discussion.

The Labor of Labor: Building a Quality Team considers the variety of labour markets, training programmes and cultural differences to be found in Asian gaming jurisdictions, and how to achieve the goal of a cohesive and service-oriented workforce. Speakers for the session include: Michael Mecca, President & Chief Operating Officer, Galaxy Entertainment Group; and Lizette Mortel, Assistant Vice President for Human Resources, Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corporation.

On With the Show: Entertainment in Asian Casinos brings together a panel of experts including Marcus John, Senior Vice President / Managing Director, IMG Consulting Asia Pacific, to discuss what kind of shows, promotions and production work in Asian markets.

Online All the Time: iGaming in Asia discusses the current state of online gaming in Asia and how it can be regulated, taxed and responsibly operated. The speakers include: Jamie Nettleton, Partner, Addisons; and I. Nelson Rose, Professor of Law, University of Macau, Whittier Law School.

Day Three Conference—Other Sesssions

Last but by no means least, Hold Steady: Maintaining Your Market Share allows experts including Andy Jeon, Marketing Consultant, Kangwon Land, explain how to maintain and even increase service to loyal customers, and say why it's important to continue to market to all players even in an economic downturn. The discussion will also examine the most successful types of marketing in this environment, be it advertising, direct mail, e-mail, player reinvestment or other techniques.

Global appeal

The huge variety of equipment on display in the exhibition halls at G2E Asia 2009 and the wide range of topics up for discussion at the accompanying conference and educational event show that regardless of the economic challenges facing the industry globally, the international interest in the Asian gaming scene is undimmed. Inside Asian Gaming magazine wishes all the exhibitors and delegates at G2E Asia 2009 an enjoyable and successful show.

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