CHAIRMAN AND CEO
POWER SCORE: 1,128
POSITION LAST YEAR: 19
CLAIMS TO FAME
• Founded Maruhan in 1957 and still running it at age 88
• Japan’s largest pachinko operator in revenue terms
• Among Japan’s top Korean-born business leaders
THE most useful question to ask about adding integrated resorts to the pachinko dominated gaming market in Japan is which segment will have higher gross gaming revenue. Pachinko turnover has been estimated at JPY22 trillion (US$204 billion) for the industry that last year had 4.3 million machines in 10,060 outlets, according to Japan’s National Police Agency that oversees pachinko and pachislots.
Payouts average around 85% of funds in, which puts pachi GGR around US$31 billion. That’s at the high end of estimates for Japan’s three integrated resorts, which won’t open before the mid-2020s.
By then, it’s hard to say where pachinko will stand. Parlors peaked at 18,000 in 1995 and active players reached 30 million – one in four Japanese, or about half of adult males. Today player numbers have fallen below 10 million, according to researchers, and revenues have declined by a third.
Maruhan continues to lead the pachinko industry in revenue, reporting JPY1.55 trillion in sales for fiscal 2019, essentially flat from FY2018. Operating income rose 16% to JPY39 billion and profit increased 59% to JPY22 billion, notable accomplishments amid industry decline. Maruhan outlets tend to be larger than average, in prime locations and focused on customer service.
Founder Han Chang-woo, now 88, remains at the helm with COO son Yu Han his heir apparent. Founded in 1958, Maruhan reached 100 parlors in 2002. Amid consolidation of the largely fragmented business, it topped 200 parlors in 2006 and 300 in 2014. Maruhan has dining and other entertainment at some suburban locations, but diversification into banking in Cambodia and Myanmar have proven better bets.
For the full list of 2019 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.