Many major moves towards providing a COVID-safe environment to bring players back to land-based casino floors could face a roadblock in the form of regulators, according to leading gaming industry suppliers.
Issues around regulation post-COVID-19 were raised during a panel session at Tuesday’s GAME/G2E Asia Online Conference – a joint event organized by Inside Asian Gaming and G2E Asia – which included widespread discussion around the need for innovation.
Among the possible solutions presented was contactless gaming where players are given the option to play at a gaming table or EGM via their mobile device without having to be physically present at the table or machine they are playing, be it at a quieter location on property or even within their own homes.
However, Jumbo Technology’s Associate Vice President of Business Development, Allen Hsu, noted that this in itself presented “issues of conflict” with regulatory regimes.
“What we have heard from operators during shutdown is how can they generate revenue?” Hsu said. “We have been looking at slots, for example. In terms of regulation, that has already raised issues of conflict as some countries allow online gaming but only offshore, not within their own country.
“Can we generate revenue? Can we allow locals to play online gaming as well and make use of the machines that are already there in the casinos while reducing staff? That becomes a conflict that we need to resolve.”
IGT’s Sales Director – Asia, Michael Cheers, noted similar issues in allowing for contactless payment systems on the casino floor.
“The challenge has been a little bit two-fold,” Cheers said. “One is that the operators’ need to drive towards those solutions before COVID may not have been as great and therefore their engagement with the regulator wasn’t as strenuous or vigorous in regard to these technologies.
“I think the COVID world we live in now and the future we’re going to look at for the next 18 months to two years suggests the ears might be much more open for our regulators to look at solutions that they may have previously considered to be some level of risk or concern.
“Remember that a lot of our regulators come from a viewpoint of trying to minimize in some way and reduce spend on the floor. The ability for people to top up an account, the view has been, ‘Well we don’t want people to be able to do those sorts of things.’
“The world we live in now, we’re doing those things and doing them safely through functionality that’s available from systems providers and manufacturers. It’s something that is going to benefit a lot of people, so while we may have had some challenges I think this is the best time to start to move on some of those engagements.”