Capacity not demand seen as key issue in casino reopening

The lack of capacity due to social distancing measures will be the key challenge for operators in opening their properties and not the lack of demand, says Angel Sueiro, chief operating officer of PH Resorts Group Holdings. 

Sueiro said casinos in the Philippines are likely to reopen this month, though the government will take a highly cautious approach.

Speaking at the ICE-Sigma Asia Digital event on Tuesday, he noted that gaming is resilient and he fully expects customers to come back once the doors are open. Though, maximising the yield per table with strict regulations on the numbers allowed on the casino floor will be key.

Minimum bets are likely to be raised on table games, which Sueiro expects to accelerate a trend towards electronic table games.

“We will be raising the minimum bet so table games will become more expensive,” he said. “The mass grind will migrate to ETGs.”

He added that to increase the enjoyment for players and replace the social element from gathering around normal tables, features such as a “star” dealer may be introduced.

“The biggest change will be in slot layout. The one slot on one slot off model that is being adopted looks horrible, so we will have to come up with something more creative.”

Walt Power, the newly appointed CEO of the Grand Ho Tram in Vietnam, agreed that demand is returning fast.

At the same event, he pointed out that Vietnam has had one of the best track records in handling the pandemic with only 350 cases and no deaths. The casinos in the country are already open.

“Demand will return to its natural state of six months ago, the question is how long it will take,” he said, adding that Ho Tram is doing quite well, with roughly the same density of gamers as prior to the crisis.

He says he sees a bright future for gaming in Asia as long as operators have strong enough balance sheets to take them through the current crisis. “Macau is robust and those operators will weather the storm,” he added.