Inside Asian Gaming

INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | June 2008 Taking On the Big Boys Weike gets ready to rumble Weike D avid Kinsman, the newly appointed CEO of Weike Gaming Technology (S) Pte Ltd, is poised to take his fleet- footed Singapore-based gaming machine manufacturing company into battle against the industry’s international Goliaths. Inside Asian Gaming visited Mr Kinsman at Weike command HQ in Singapore, and from what we saw, we fancy his chances of following in the footsteps of the Old Testament giant slayer. “The benefit of being small is we’re like a speed boat versus a 135,000 tonne tanker,” says Mr Kinsman. “It takes the tanker 20 miles to stop; we can turn around on a dime. When we’ve got to change direction and do something that is important for our clients and ourselves, we can do it instantaneously. The larger companies are like monoliths. To move them is like moving a mountain.” An old story from another monotheistic faith tells of the prophet’s humility in proclaiming his willingness to go to the mountain if the mountain would not come to him. According to Mr Kinsman, one of the pillars on which Weike is built is its commitment to serve the needs of casino and slot hall clients, rather than dictating what products they should use.“We’re here to listen to them, learn from them, and give them what they want,” he states, adding “all our clients will have access to the CEO. I’d like to see them get the same access at Aristocrat or IGT.” Mr Kinsman has a successful track record oftakingonthebigboys.Underhisleadership, Olympic Video Gaming became Australasia’s number two manufacturer to Aristocrat and was sold to IGT in 1997 for A$178 million. In addition, as former General Manager of Vidco, he developed that company’s multi- player gaming machines and paved the way for it to be sold and renamed in 2001 as Stargames. He also headed Online Gaming David Kinsman Systems and recently served as COO of the Mansion group in Europe. Talkin’ ‘bout a revolution Just as downloadable music decimated the bottom lines of complacent record labels, the advent of server based gaming leaves the current gaming machine monoliths at risk of losing their dominance as the next gaming revolution takes hold. Slot machines are only about a century old and remained more novelty than serious casino revenue generator until Bally Technologies introduced what is considered the “granddaddy” of the modern slot machine in 1963. Bally then led the industry before it was usurped by upstart IGT in the mid-80s. IGT was founded in 1981 (which, incidentally, was the first year slot machine revenue exceeded table revenue in Nevada), and was able to capitalise on Bally’s slowness to adopt new computer technology, along with quality-control problems, to rapidly win market share. IGT is now the world’s largest manufacturer of slot machines, but has notably failed to secure the lead in Australia and Asia, where Aristocrat reigns. Macau is now the most hotly contested gaming machine market in Asia, and while Aristocrat has taken an early strong lead in the city, Mr Kinsman believes Weike’s strengths could win it significant sales as it showcases its products at G2E Asia at Venetian Macao this month. The most immediately apparent of