The global gaming industry is one of constant change and is currently in the middle of a period of substantial growth that looks to continue for at least the next few years.
A report released this past June by PriceWaterhouseCoopers predicted that between 2008 and 2012 the global gaming market would grow by 6.5 percent. According to the report’s predictions, growth in the United States and Europe will be slower than other regions, but they will remain the two largest global casino markets. The Asia Pacific region, on the strength of a predicted growth rate of 15.2 percent over the next five years, is set to significantly close the current revenue gap that exists between itself and the European market.
Macau, the largest market in Asia and the main driver of the region’s current gaming boom, has a lot of similarities to the largest U.S. gaming market, Las Vegas. Just as the success of gaming in Las Vegas led to, albeit after several decades, the growth of gaming across the United States, the success of Macau is certain to result in the growth of gaming throughout Asia. Already we are hearing of interest in Japan, India, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, and Singapore has already begun building two new multi-use casino resorts. Financial advisers and their investors are salivating at the prospect, as are many U.S. gaming companies, who see the decades of experience meeting the needs of their Asian clients as a distinct advantage as they look to enter this booming market.
As often happens, the growth of the Asian market has come with challenges. While there are a number of challenges specific to Macau, such as labor shortages, the need for infrastructure improvements and casino operators’ relationships with junket operators, there is a pair of challenges that all emerging and existing markets around the globe must address.
One of the keys to the global sustainability of our industry is the imperative that gaming companies act as good corporate citizens. Corporate social responsibility should be a crucial driver of the policies and procedures of members of the gaming industry, especially in relation to problem gambling.
As we know, research has confirmed that there is a small percentage of people who simply cannot gamble responsibly, and as an industry we recognize that one problem gambler is one too many. Therefore, we realize that is vital to our role as corporate citizens to educate the public about how to gamble responsibly, and to gain a better understanding about disordered gambling and how to prevent and treat the malady.
The casino gaming industry in the United States has donated millions of dollars through the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) to fund peer-reviewed research on disordered and youth gambling. We have long held that effective responsible gaming regulations and education programs must be rooted in sound science in order to succeed, and there is much research and best practices to guide efforts in this arena.
As science identifies the distribution and determinants of gambling-related problems among the population and its high-risk segments, public health, gaming industry, public policy, and even anti-gambling interests need to work together to limit gambling-related harms.
The mitigation of gambling-related problems is only one example of an issue that the gaming industry must cooperate with non-gaming interests to solve. Government regulation is another. Gaming expansion brings with it challenges related to regulation that affect the development, marketing and operation of the industry. We in the U.S. commercial casino gaming sector have found that by combining the expertise of the private sector with the oversight mechanisms of government, we build a comfortable nexus for cooperation.
With regard to regulation and the integrity of gaming operations, we have worked closely with government entities to make certain there is a high level of transparency so the public recognizes that fair play pervades. Integrity and transparency are the hallmarks of modern U.S. commercial casino gaming operations. Challenges do exist, however, when it comes to regulatory issues such as licensing and compliance, multi-jurisdictional issues, information sharing, gaming standards and more, particularly in growing markets, and markets with a significant international presence. But integrity and a willingness cooperate with regulators should be a hallmark of any global gaming business.
This is an exciting time for the global gaming industry, and whether a gaming market is mature or just beginning to develop, the challenges and opportunities we all face are strikingly similar, and there is much to be learned from one another. The future success of the industry worldwide will be determined by the manner in which all of us handle the growth and meet the attendant challenges.