This article first appeared in the Nov/Dec 2013 issue of World Gaming magazine.
After many months of planning, the inaugural Macao Gaming Show is finally here. Created with the goal of providing a trade show focussed specifically on Asia, it promises to be more than a little different! We take a look at what you can expect from this unique new concept.
At first it seemed somewhat ambitious, but in fact it makes perfect sense. Macau has long been the epicenter of global gaming. In terms of total gaming revenue, it is now seven years since she first overtook Las Vegas as the world leader and the growth since then now sees Macau generating around six times as much as Las Vegas and almost four times as much as the entire state of Nevada.
It makes sense there should be a major gaming trade show aimed specifically at the Asian market and Macau in particular. From 14 to 16 November, the Venetian will play host to the inaugural Macao Gaming Show (MGS), which in the words of Mr Jay Chun – Chairman of show organizer the Macau Gaming Equipment Manufacturers Association – “is created to provide a platform for gaming and non-gaming businesses to showcase their products and services to the gaming industry” and “to propel Macau as the gaming expertise center of Asia.”
MGS will host buyers primarily from the Asian gaming market and vendors from all over the world, however its focus is not solely on gaming operators and equipment suppliers. It is unique in that it will play host to both gaming and non-gaming businesses; and gaming will cover everything from equipment supply to junket promoters and pari-mutuel gaming such as lotteries, horse racing and sports betting. Non-gaming businesses include such key business elements as Food and Beverage – from mass floor snacks to Michelin star dining – Mass Floor Entertainment; and Promotions and Memorabilia.
Already there are some fascinating and unique exhibitors locked in. Among them is Hanabatake Farm of Hokkaido, who will be showcasing their premium cheese at MGS. It will be fascinating to see such diverse businesses at a gaming show strutting their stuff alongside the big boys of gaming such as Bally, LT Game and Aristocrat, junket operators such as David Group, uniquely Chinese-facing businesses like Aspect Gaming and Macau icons such as the Macau Jockey Club, Lotus TV and Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome.
A major focus of MGS will be VIP Club operators, who contribute more than 50 percent of Macau’s gaming revenue, and visitors will have the opportunity to seek out business opportunities with these operators.
However, perhaps the greatest point of difference between MGS and other gaming trade shows will be the emphasis on entertainment. It isn’t a coincidence MGS is on at the same time as the 60th Macau Grand Prix. MGS is hoping to not only capitalize on the excitement the Grand Prix brings to Macau but be an active contributor to it, with a number of special events planned over the course of the weekend. There will also be a lucky draw for MGS visitors to win Grand Prix tickets and VIP Grand Prix lounge access. The idea is that MGS shouldn’t just be business, business, business – there is an expectation of fun at the same time!
This is in line with the in-show entertainment which will be provided, from roaming performers to slot tournaments in the VIP slots lounge in what promises to be a first for a gaming trade show – not to mention an after-show dinner, networking and parties.
As part of the package, MGS will also have its own TV station called MGS TV which will feature interviews with guests and exhibitors as well as footage and stories on everything gaming, Macau and MGS.
Aside from the trade show side of things, MGS will also play host to the Macao Gaming Summit which will see regulators, academics and business leaders from Asia and around the world come together to discuss issues pertinent to the future of gaming.
A number of speakers stand out as being of particular interest. One of them, Professor Zeng Zhonglu from the Gaming Education and Research Center of the Macao Polytechnic Institute, will present his in-depth research report on co-operation between gaming equipment manufacturers and the Macao SAR Government to further gaming equipment research, development and manufacturing in Macau.
MGS has also recently added a Japanese gaming expert to the list of speakers to discuss developments in legalizing gambling in Japan, with members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party pushing to have a new bill passed in an attempt to help revive the nation’s economy. Japan recently won the rights to host the 2020 Olympics and the legalization of casinos could provide a welcome cash cow for a country rocked by debt pain and an aging population.
There will also be speakers from the United States, Vietnam, Taiwan and Italy with the Summit being co-organized by the International Masters of Gaming Law.
Without doubt, MGS looms as a unique and, dare we say it, ground-breaking addition to the world of gaming trade shows. While the likes of G2E, which is more US-centric, tend to have a large focus on electronic gaming – which still accounts for a significant piece of the pie in Las Vegas – the Asian market is very different with table games still the preferred method of play. That’s where MGS differentiates itself. By understanding Asia and catering specifically to local demands, it will provide more specific business opportunities for buyers, promoters and suppliers alike.
VIP clubs are a prime example. MGS will play host to Asia’s five biggest junket operators which will inevitably attract all major casinos from Macau and the wider Asian region – keen to lure the junkets’ Chinese high rollers their way. Combine this with the full gamut of businesses set to display their wares and it really does look like MGS will have something for everyone.
As Chun says “MGS is created with the future of Macau and the future of gaming in mind. We earnestly believe what we do will be for the benefit and best interests of all our stakeholders. As we progress, we will be getting more support from the Macau SAR Government, our community and the Asian gaming industry as a whole. MGS shall be, as we plan it, the hub of Asian gaming.”