International edition
September 27, 2021

The casino industry, AGA CEO stated, should help the compulsive gamblers

Frank Fahrenkopf warns responsible gambling needs attention in Asia

(Macau).- Speaking last week at TDM Talk Show, Frank Fahrenkopf of the American Gaming Association, said Asia has not paid enough attention to responsible gaming, The Macau Daily Times reported.

Asia has not paid enough attention, in our view, to what we call responsible gaming,” said Frank Fahrenkopf, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA). On last weekend’s TDM Talk Show, Fahrenkopf said that he believes “the success” of the casino industry in Macau “is probably the reason why there is so much interest throughout Asia.”

He said that “any jurisdiction has a duty to do whatever it can to help” the people “who can’t gamble responsibly.” “Pretty much around the world,” he explained, “about one percent of the population will have trouble adjusting to gaming.”  These “pathological gamblers”, the AGA president added, “will lose all their money, they may commit a crime, and that presents problems, with families involved.” In many cases, he said, “gaming is not their only problem, they may also have issues with alcohol and drugs.”
The casino industry, Fahrenkopf stated, should help the compulsive gamblers “through training programs and by being able to advise these folks on where to go for assistance.” However, “Asia has not paid enough attention, in our view, to what we call responsible gaming,” he said.

Talking to TDM during the 2010 Global Gaming Expo Asia (G2E Asia), Fahrenkopf emphasized that problem gaming can be even more dangerous in Macau because the overwhelming majority of the casinos workers are local residents. He explained that the percentage of people who work in casinos that suffer from gaming addiction is slightly higher than among the rest of the population. “It’s very important that training be done for people working in casinos,” the AGA president said.

The Macau gaming sector has faced other challenges, Fahrenkopf acknowledged, from the infrastructure to the question of employment. “What happened here in the last five years is just explosive. It’s amazing how this jurisdiction has been able to adjust to 21 million people coming here now on a regular basis,” he said.

“There are things that will take time to resolve,” the AGA president said. “The infrastructures have to settle in and be able to handle the number of visitors. The educational facilities have to get into a position where they can train more and more people to come into the industry as a career,” he added. Nonetheless, Fahrenkopf assured, “I have nothing but really good words to say about the job that has been done at this point.”

In fact, he said that the success of Macau has, more than anything else, got the neighbouring countries looking into the possibility of legalizing live gaming. “They’ve seen the tax revenues that have been generated, the tourism growth. Macau is probably the reason why there is so much interest throughout Asia,” the AGA president said. However, he underlined, “nothing happens overtime and it takes a while to make modifications.”

“About 85 % of the American people have no problem with gaming for themselves or others,” Fahrenkopf revealed. “But many countries in Asia have a strong religious base that may be opposed to gaming,” he said. But there are good prospects for gaming in Asia: “Singapore had to deal with religious and other cultural considerations that took it a bit longer to get it done. We have seen expansion in the Philippines and a lot of attention being paid to Korea, where there is only casinos where local Koreans can play.” Furthermore, “only political instability for the last five, six years, has prevented the Diet [the Japanese parliament] from moving forward” into gaming legalization, he said.

When all of the Cotai Strip projects are completed, “I think Macau will become, in many ways, the Las Vegas of Asian gaming,” Fahrenkopf said. The AGA president believes the creation of other casino hubs will not hurt Macau. “Even when other jurisdictions adopt gaming, as Singapore has done, they only have two projects there. People will be exposed to casino gaming in those areas. They’re going to want to come to Macau because there will be such a concentration of different types of properties,” he explained.

Macau’s economic dependence on gaming also doesn’t worry Fahrenkopf. “That’s not unusual when new jurisdictions open. Ten years ago the overwhelming majority of the major American operators’ revenue came from gaming, 65 to 70 percent. Up to 2 years ago, less than 50 percent came from gaming,” he said. “People are going to start coming here not only to gamble, but also for the restaurants, the fine rooms, the shows. But it takes a while,” he stressed.

The perception on gaming will also change, the AGA president said. “There is such a growing middle class on the Chinese Mainland, people who want to travel, to gamble, to see retail and there is a great deal to be offered here,” he emphasized. “If the Cotai Strip is all built out, it’s going to be an even more tremendously successful place than it is now,” Fahrenkopf added.

Another change identified by the Future Watch survey, released during the G2E Asia involves the junket operators. “An overwhelming percentage of those experts think that five years from now there will a dramatic change in the ways the VIP gaming is conducted here,” he said. “There has been gaming going along in Macau for a long time prior to the opening and there are ways of doing business that have become a custom. My guess is the experts are right; the system will change,” the AGA president warned.

In the future, Fahrenkopf said, slot machines will become much more important. “Young people around the world, and China is no different, have grown using computers. At the same time the technology that has gone into slot machines is changing, trying to appeal to particularly young costumers,” he said.

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