Inside Asian Gaming

February 2008 | INSIDE ASIAN GAMING 37 M any point to the intensity of play atMacau casinos to support the claim that Chinese are the most hardcore gamblers in the world. It is true that notions of fate, luck and fortune run deep in Chinese culture, but another major reason for the gambling fervour in Macau is that the city is the stage for the release of a great deal of pent-up gambling desire. Macau is, after all, the only place in China where casinos are legal. China recently introduced lotteries and video lottery terminals (VLTs), but before that the range of legal gambling options available to its population was severely restricted. It was only in mid-2003 that the Chinese government began progressively easing travel restrictions on mainland Chinese wishing to visit Macau, and unsurprisingly, since then, Macau has embarked on a heady casino boom. As the Macaumarket matures—with newly openedmega resorts drawing a more diversified visitor demographic to the city, and mainlandChinesebecomingmore used to the realities of gambling— there will be a rise in gambling for the sake of entertainment, rather than battling with the house in search of riches. Slot machines will steal an increasing share of revenue from the baccarat tables, while even slot preferences will evolve away from the currently dominant high-volatility games to those that offer a more entertaining user experience. “Serious” gambling, by its very nature, is likely to lead lighter forms in terms of revenue share for perhaps decades to come, but those offering the best entertainment-based games should see a steady rise in sales. The online gaming market, like the Macau casino market, is relatively immature, evolving fast and booming. While Macau was recently granted access to the bulk of its potential customers by China, the floodgates to the online gaming market have been shut by the US and many Asian jurisdictions, including, of course, China. The tide will eventually turn, however, and as with China’s introduction of VLTs or squeaky-clean Singapore’s legalisation of casinos, it could happen sooner than expected. The rise of entertainment As the online gaming market opens up and matures, there is also likely to be a rise in the proportion of customers seeking more entertainment, rather than just the big win. Online gaming software provider CryptoLogic well-positioned to cater to those customers, having already built a solid following with its “Casual Games” series, including Bejeweled™ and Cubis™. These are “casual games brands that tens of millions of people have played around the world on the likes of Yahoo, AOL, MSN, etc,”says CryptoLogic Vice President - Marketing and Product Management Justin L. Thouin. “We’ve licensed the exclusive rights to offer these games as slot games.They’ve done phenomenally well.They’ve really allowed us to bring more females into the gaming market.” CryptoLogic hardly neglects customers seeking the big win, however, with its Millionaire’s Club™ slot game having “paid out the two largest Casual Grip Online gaming software provider CryptoLogic Inc. has developed hit slot products based on casual games and Marvel Comics superheroes. VP - Marketing and Product Management Justin L. Thouin tells Inside Asian Gaming about his company’s commitment to creating “the most entertaining, authentic user experience possible” Online Gaming Jewel Quest is the latest addition to CryptoLogic’s “Casual Game” series, which includes slot adaptations of popular puzzle games such as Bejeweled, and Cubis