When the America Gaming Association (AGA) opened its doors 11 years ago, we could never have imagined the global enterprise that our industry would soon become. Today, it’s not enough for those of us in the gaming business to succeed here in the U.S. Increasingly, we must turn our eye to developments abroad, and when we do, the picture is breathtaking. I can’t think of a time in our industry’s history when global opportunities have been more prevalent, more exciting or more rewarding.
Great Britain is one of the nations exhibiting promise. After officially liberalizing its gaming policy in 2005, the nation’s newly formed Gambling Commission recently published new rules that will govern the British gaming market beginning in 2007, as well as new licensing, compliance and enforcement policies. The commission also currently is in the process of setting up regulatory structures to govern a robust online gambling market, making it the first industrialized nation to allow Internet gambling companies to be licensed and operate within its borders. Britain also recently announced the short list of finalist cities for the first major regional casino resort license in the country, and it is expected that additional licenses will soon be up for competition as well.
The advent of world class casino entertainment in Great Britain is the latest salvo of the industry that is showing signs of healthy growth all over Europe. Russia and South America also are major growth markets. And, perhaps nowhere is the excitement and growth potential of gaming more evident than in Asia. Singapore recently awarded Las Vegas Sands the first of two gaming licenses in that country, and bids for the second license are due this fall. And in Macau, the gaming business is booming. The relaxation of China’s traveling restrictions for its residents has led to an influx in tourism business to the resort city, and Macau has evolved into a viable rival with Las Vegas as the top gaming destination in the world.
Roughly 18.7 million people visited Macau last year, with more than half of those visitors – 56 percent – hailing from mainland China. Gaming revenue in Macau has more than doubled in the past four years, and soared to $5.6 billion last year. Compare this with the $6 billion in gaming revenue generated on the Las Vegas Strip last year, and the $5 billion generated in Atlantic City, and it’s not hard to see that Macau has become a major force to be reckoned with in the global gaming arena. Revenues in Macau are expected to overtake those of Las Vegas within the next couple of years.
And just as in the United States, the explosion of tourism in Macau is paying major dividends for the residents of the tiny island. Tax revenues from gaming totaled $2.2 billion last year.
America’s top gaming companies are getting into the game, and the growth in Macua shows no signs of slowing. The advent of amenity-filled casino resorts like the recently opened property from Las Vegas Sands have revolutionized the idea of what an Asian casino can be, and new properties on the way from MGM MIRAGE, Wynn Resorts and others will continue to raise the bar ever higher.
Last month, I traveled to Macau, and a sense of palpable excitement and unbridled opportunity pervaded the city. Now, the AGA and Reed Exhibitions, our partners in Global Gaming Expo (G2E), are poised to harness this opportunity. I am proud to announce that we have recently purchased the Asian Gaming Expo from the Australasian Gaming Machine Manufacturers Association (AGMMA) and that next year we will debut G2E Asia.
As you know, the annual G2E event in Las Vegas is the largest gaming entertainment industry trade show and conference in the world. I am proud of all we have accomplished with the show and of the international reputation we have achieved.
G2E Asia will highlight the remarkable growth in the Asian gaming markets and bring the unbeatable quality and value of the G2E experience to the Eastern hemisphere. G2E Asia will provide unparalleled networking opportunities and access to all that is new and exciting in our industry. As with our flagship show in the United States, the event will evolve each year to keep participants ahead of the latest trends driving the industry. And G2E Asia will put global gaming executives directly in touch with the people, products and trends that will take your business to the next level.
AGMMA has done an impressive job creating and expanding the Asian Gaming Expo over the past few years, and we look forward to working with them in the coming months to ensure we continue their tradition of excellence. G2E prides itself on being an event created by the industry and for the industry, and we plan to bring that same sensibility to G2E Asia. So in the next weeks and months, we’ll also be reaching out to the business leaders here and in Asia to get input on how we can make this event as dynamic and relevant as possible for attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and everyone else involved. We look forward to building new relationships in this exciting region, and we know that with the global industry’s support, we can grow G2E Asia into just as great a success as we’ve accomplished with the original G2E.
We are committed to building G2E Asia into a truly world class event that will provide unparalleled networking opportunities and access to all that is new and exciting in our industry. Clearly, we have an exciting and busy year ahead of us. The inaugural G2E Asia will debut in June of 2007 at the Macau Tower. And, in 2008, G2E Asia will take place at the new world-class Venetian Convention Center.
There is tremendous opportunity here, and I am excited to be a part of it. I hope you all will join us next June for the launch of the new event, and I look forward to seeing you there.