Japan, Thailand hot gaming topics for 2023 thinks Spectrum

Spectrum Gaming Group LLC, a specialist consultancy on probity and legal compliance in the regulated casino sector, has issued its “Top Ten Trends To Watch for 2023”, including likely events in the Asia-Pacific region.

Spectrum highlighted anticipated probity and suitability investigations relating to the casino resorts that have been proposed in Osaka and Nagasaki, assuming the schemes pass the hurdle of being approved in principle by Japan’s national authorities, after respective bids were submitted in late April.

According to GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent, would-be operators and investors with a more than 5-percent equity stake in an integrated resort (IR) scheme – and senior managers of such entities – will be subject to probity checks, which will mostly be the responsibility of the Japan Casino Regulatory Commission.

The probity checks will be conducted only after the national government approves the IR District Development Plans, as stipulated under the nation’s casino-related legislation.

The minister in charge of the Japanese government department overseeing the IR application process declined to comment to reporters on Monday regarding when the authorities might make an announcement about Osaka and Nagasaki’s respective applications.

It is unlikely that any casino resort could open in Japan before the end of the current decade, based on the existing timetable.

Elsewhere in Asia, Spectrum has included Thailand in its 2023 top trends list, saying the country “likely will legalise casino gaming”, but “its efforts to effectively regulate gaming will be an open issue”.

The industry consultancy also mentioned the established gaming markets in Australia and of Macau, on its top trends list.

“Various Australian states will reform their approach to casino regulation in light of the Crown and Star regulatory findings of 2021 and 2022, respectively,” Spectrum mentioned.

For the Macau market, the consultancy said it expected China to “reopen its borders” in “early 2023″. That was understood to be a reference to inbound travel to mainland China from Hong Kong and Taiwan, and possibly further afield.

In pre-pandemic times Hong Kong had supplied circa 15 percent of Macau casino gross gaming revenue according to some analysts. While Macau has a mostly quarantine-free travel arrangement with mainland China, the Macau government has said that it would in likelihood need to continue to align its own entry rules for travellers via Hong Kong, with the policy of the mainland authorities.

“While China likely will reopen its borders in early 2023, it remains unclear how many VIP and mass Chinese players will return to Asian markets initially, given the economic downturn and China’s crackdown on overseas gambling and tightening of money outflows from the country,” the consultancy stated.

Banking group Morgan Stanley said in a presentation at Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia 2022, in August, that the land-based Asia-Pacific casino market had lost about 80 percent of its VIP gambling revenue since 2019, mostly due to the absence of Chinese high rollers.

Spectrum’s 2023 lookahead also mentioned the likely continued growth of the iGaming sector.

“Efforts to legalise iGaming in the United States will increase, as both retail casinos and independent providers see iGaming as a profitable vertical that is gaining adherents in statehouses,” said Spectrum, referrring to U.S. state legislatures.

Though it added that in its view, “outside the U.S., law enforcement and regulators will push back on digital gaming companies licensed in jurisdictions such as Malta and the Philippines”.

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