South Korea is set to become a key target market for regional casino operators in the absence of Chinese consumers over the next few years, according to Aristocrat’s General Manager, Asia, Lloyd Robson.
Robson provided his assessment of the current state of play during a panel session at MGS Summit on Wednesday titled, “Business Recovery of Macau Gaming (Manufacturers).”
Asked about the prospects for recovery from COVID-19 in markets outside of Macau, major suppliers agreed each would be governed by the pace of border re-openings but Robson noted that China’s zero-COVID policy would alter the focus of regional operators in the short-term.
“One of the interesting things to consider is that for a couple of years at least, the movement of the Chinese consumer beyond Macau is going to be quite challenged,” Robson said.
“So I think the operators are going to be fighting for that Korean tourism dollar. I know they are a big part of Vietnam and the Philippines in-particular but I think they will take on an even more important role from 2022 to 2024 in the absence of that higher end Chinese consumer.”
As reported by Inside Asian Gaming, Korean customers have quickly become a priority for governments across parts of Asia, with the Philippines looking to South Korea for its first travel bubble, Singapore having opened a Vaccinated Travel Lane for Korean visitors and Vietnam’s Phu Quoc welcoming more than 200 tourists from South Korea this weekend under a phased opening plan.
Even with quarantine restrictions in place, jurisdictions such as Clark, north of Manila – which traditionally attributes 70% of GGR to visitors from South Korea – has seen some positive movement of late with 3Q21 GGR of Php2.31 billion (US$46 million) equal to 60% of late 2019 levels.
“Recovery in each market will be at a different speeds as governments open the borders but we are already seeing some travel now coming into the Philippines and there is a bit of activity over there with a couple of geographical regions in the country showing very positive signs,” said Scientific Games’ Vice President and Managing Director for Asia, Ken Jolly.
“The numbers coming out of Clark are very strong.”
The MGS Summit panel was moderated by Inside Asian Gaming Vice Chairman and CEO Andrew W Scott.