In order to rank the 50 most powerful people in Asian gaming, the panel considered almost 100 candidates. These five are the people knocking on the door of the Power 50 and those we currently consider the most likely new entrants next year. Although we did rank these five people 51 through 55, we’ve listed them below in alphabetical order. You’ll just have to guess who came in at number 51!
ALFREDO “ALBEE” BENITEZ
Leisure & Resorts World Corp
ALFREDO ABELARDO “ALBEE” BENITEZ stepped down from the board of Leisure & Resorts World Corp (LRWC) in October for a run at politics, but he remains a major shareholder in the company and a return in future looks likely.
Founded by Benitez as Bingo Bonanza Corporation, the company was later listed as LRWC – providing a vast array of services across the Philippines including bingo, leasing slot machines and the operation of slot arcades on behalf of PAGCOR. It is also developing a US$500 million integrated resort on the holiday island of Boracay. Benitez is currently running for mayor of Bacolod, having previously served multiple terms as a congressman representing the 3rd district of Negros Occidental province.
THOMAS PANG has worked hard over the past decade to cement Meg-Star Group’s position among the “Big 4” Macau junkets, but with the VIP space facing multiple headwinds it will be much harder keeping them there.
Analysts estimate VIP segment revenue will barely reach 20% of pre-COVID levels in 2021, rising to around 40% next year but unlikely to ever return to the heights of the early 2010s when they comprised almost 75% of Macau-wide GGR. Meg-Star, which describes itself as a provider of “high-end travel and VIP entertainment service, real estate, premium retail, IT, cultural art, food and beverages, red wine distribution and more,” has maintained a low profile of late but will be hoping it is the premium player who returns to Macau first in 2022.
PRESIDENT AND GROUP CEO
Sega Sammy Holdings
JAPAN’S SEGA SAMMY HOLDINGS accelerated its internal succession plan earlier this year when it promoted Haruki Satomi to the role of President and Group CEO. Haruki took over the CEO role from his father and company founder, Hajime Satomi, who retained the role of Chairman and Representative Director. At 79 years of age, he clearly recognizes that his business days are numbered.
It’s been a mixed year for Sega Sammy, with its video games and pachinko segments showing some improvement but its Korean integrated resort Paradise City, of which it holds a 45% stake, continuing to struggle. The company had also partnered with Genting Singapore in pursuit of an IR license in Yokohama before the city was a late withdrawal from Japan’s IR race.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Grand Korea Leisure
KIM YOUNG-SAN was appointed CEO of foreigner-only casino operator Grand Korea Leisure in August, replacing Yoo Tae-Yeol on the recommendation of the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism. The 58-year-old Kim is a former Director of the Culture and Arts Policy Office and the Planning and Coordination Office for the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and former Director of the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles, USA. GKL operates two casinos in Seoul and one in Busan under its Seven Luck brand, but Kim’s appointment comes at a time when COVID-19 has decimated the industry, with the company reporting losses of around US$48 million for the first six months of 2021.
CHAIRMAN AND INDEPENDENT NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Wynn Macau Ltd
A LEGEND in the Hong Kong business community, having built the famous Lan Kwai Fong entertainment district from the ground up, Zeman has also stepped into the void left by Steve Wynn’s departure in Macau after assuming the role of non-executive Chairman in February 2018. He has been a director of the company since its inception. He holds sway with officials in Macau, Hong Kong and mainland China but particularly in Hong Kong where he is a member or advisor to multiple business and economic groups, including the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce. Zeman is also a naturalized citizen of China and holds a Chinese passport.
For the full list of 2021 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.