Global gaming giant Aristocrat has been busy investing in online gaming platforms of late, but the CEO of the company’s gaming division says land-based casinos will continue to play an important role in the industry’s long-term growth.
Hector Fernandez told news outlet CNBC while in Singapore for G2E Asia this week that he expects land-based, physical gaming to grow in a “robust way” in the coming years – rejecting concerns that digital and online gaming platforms may one day replace the traditional casino experience.
That’s despite Aristocrat investing heavily in its online, real money gaming (RMG) segment in recent months via the acquisition of platform providers Roxor Gaming and NeoGames.
“We do believe digital gaming will play a role,” Fernandez said, “but it will be a dual role where a player can continue to engage in a digital fashion but ultimately when they want that white glove service, that differentiated experience, that social interaction that you just can’t get from sitting on your phone, they will go to a land-based casino to experience that.”
Much of that growth, the Aristocrat Gaming boss said, will be in Asia where the post-pandemic recovery and new supply in markets like the Philippines and emerging Southeast Asian markets.
“There’s a reason I’m here in Singapore – we look at Asia as a tremendous growth opportunity,” Fernandez told CNBC. “We look at Asia as a tremendous growth opportunity.
“In the Philippines and here in Singapore, the GGR compared to 2019 levels is actually above, and even Macau which has had its ups and downs these past couple of years, we’re starting to see early signs of recovery. It’s not quite to 2019 levels but they had over a million visitors in April and hotel occupancy was over 80%, so clearly they are starting to see the rebound.
“As we look at what we experienced through North America, there are a lot of similarities that we’re seeing and here’s why: during COVID, during locked in periods, people missed out on live experiences – the ability to go somewhere and have social interactions.
“What we saw as the world opened up, humans just craved that live experience, that ability to have fun and disconnect. That’s the phenomenon we’ve seen and I truly believe Asia will follow that same phenomenon.”