Clinton Long discusses his recent promotion to VP for Asia and what he hopes to achieve in leading the regional Scientific Games team.
Ben Blaschke: Congratulations on taking on the new role Clinton. What do you hope to achieve as SG’s VP for Asia?
Clinton Long: In my time since joining the company back in 2013, I’ve been fortunate to be a part of rapid growth across the region. We’re an extremely diverse company when it comes to the solutions we provide across the industry, which was a critical reason in why I initially joined the business.
My goal is to help continue to grow our business and strengthen our brand across the region, ensuring that we’ve got the right people, products and services in place to capitalize on the opportunities that exist. I’ve been in the Asian gaming industry since 2007 and have spent a lot of time in what could be considered the emerging markets, so I have a lot of experience with the nuances that comes with each market. There’s a multitude of opportunities coming up over the next three to five years across the majority of Asia markets, especially with new openings and expansions.
As VP, it’s my role to provide leadership and guidance to the team in ensuring that we implement the right strategies for success.
BB: You of course take over the role from Ken Jolly. What have you learned from Ken and how do you plan to stamp your own mark on the company?
CL: Ken’s experience and track record speaks for itself. He was instrumental in establishing and growing the Aristocrat business in Asia from the early to mid 2000s, which I became a part of when I joined from Sydney in 2007 to be based out of Singapore and help grow Aristocrat’s presence in some of the emerging markets.
I was thrilled to join Ken again in 2013 at Scientific Games. His legacy is that he doesn’t let an opportunity slip and he taught me to get out there and work hard to achieve the results. Furthermore, what Ken was always able to do is attract great talent and build strong teams around him. The team at SG Asia is full of amazing talent. My goal is to continue to foster the culture within the business, keep our employees engaged and informed, and continue to position SG Asia as an employer of choice in attracting future talent. As a well-known leader in gaming, Ken leaves big shoes to fill.
BB: You also find yourself taking on the role at one of the most challenging times the industry has ever faced. First of all, what impact has COVID-19 had on SG in Asia?
CL: No doubt taking over from Ken during the pandemic has been very challenging. However, it has accelerated my learning curve of the new role. COVID-19 has obvious implications, but it’s also given us an opportunity to take a deep dive into all facets of the business and focus on how we can build an even stronger team moving forward.
BB: What are the main challenges your team faces in emerging from this crisis?
CL: The main challenges are trying to understand what the various markets look like during reopening phases. Will new trends emerge? How will social distancing and its impact on player demographics and behavior impact player preferences? What role will technology play in catering to the new norm? Will such changes be short term and subsequently return to a pre-COVID-19 landscape or will there be a fundamental shift in the overall market environment? These are just some of the challenges that are applicable to our entire industry.
BB: What do you envision the next 12 months will bring for the Asian gaming industry and particularly for the slots market?
CL: We’ve already heard a lot of industry talk from around the globe regarding cashless gaming, as the push for technology solutions that reduces the dependency on both chip and cash handling has become a hot topic in a post COVID-19 world. Implementing such technology, especially in Asia, has its own challenges and varies from market to market.
With regards to slots, we’ve already seen an emerging trend of increased performance in Australia for SG’s legacy game titles since re-openings have commenced. This includes some of the original titles from the Lock It Link series, the Happy Chance and Jin Ji Bao Xi game ranges as well as our popular $1 games such as the Drifting Sands franchise. I expect to see similar results for Asia, in which I believe we’re well positioned as we have some existing high performing product families across the region to leverage from.
BB: Has COVID-19 significantly changed the product development plan?
CL: While we haven’t significantly changed our product development plan, we’ve made changes to strengthen our portfolio to capitalize on the expected future growth across Asia. This includes gaining greater access to our global content streams to boost our regional product portfolios.
BB: Of course, trade shows have long been a key opportunity for suppliers to showcase their new products to buyers. How have you managed without having these same opportunities in 2020?
CL: Over the past couple of months, we have conducted a significant amount of virtual product presentations and updates for our regional customers which has actually proven very effective. I do see us doing this a lot more in the future as well even when the travel restrictions are lifted.
BB: How about innovation? Has the SG Asia team been actively looking at products that can work for both operators and players during this “new normal?”
CL: Yes, and actually our Systems team was already in development with our cashless product, Unified Wallet, before COVID-19. Unified Wallet allows players to instantly access funds to play slots and tables through the use of a mobile app. Additionally, our Systems team worked on several modules in response to our new normal including our Social Distancing module, which assists venues in adhering to necessary post COVID-19 safety measures and Automated Game Sanitization, which helps streamline cleaning and sanitization efforts.
BB: Finally, COVID-19 aside, what is your long-term vision for SG in Asia in the coming years?
CL: My goal is to help continue to grow our business and strengthen our brand across the region, ensuring that we’ve got the right people, products and services in place to drive value to our partners and customers and capitalize on the opportunities that exist.