Herman Ng: Reflecting on the last 20 years of Macau gaming

Herman Ng

CEO & Executive Director, Asia Pioneer Entertainment

When did you arrive in Macau and in what capacity?

I grew up in Macau, and I went to the United States to study when I was 16. After I graduated, I came back to Macau in 1996. After that, I took a job as an arcade operations manager in an arcade games center. By that time, I had met a bunch of Japanese guys in the industry.

After 1999, the Macau government started to open up the gaming licenses, and my Japanese business colleagues asked me to start distributing some Japanese gaming products to Macau. I didn’t have any knowledge of gaming at the time and I thought it was a similar thing as arcade games, so I started doing it all together. My company was called Japan Pioneer Entertainment.

What were your first impressions?

At the beginning, there were not many slot machines in the market and many opportunities to bring new products to Macau. At that time, it was a monopoly by SJM so the gaming industry was very closed and the most important sector for the industry was junkets.

What are the biggest changes you have seen in your section of the industry?

The most important change is that there are more varied qualified electronic gaming products under mature regulations. Everything is black and white. It is part of the top level of gaming in the world. It is more challenging for new manufacturers to enter into this market.

What have you found most challenging, or memorable?

In 2017, APE listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. It was a great moment. Getting to that point was quite a difficult job but everything was on time. In a way I can say it was lucky in that everything was fate that it was all on time and perfect.

How are you expecting Macau to evolve in the next 20 years?

Macau is one of the most significant cities in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), the whole region has about 70 million inhabitants and a gross domestic product of about US$1.3 billion. We could definitely embrace the opportunities of investment and business. At the same time, it will also be challenging in the next 20 years if Macau still treats gaming as its core business. Resorts are looking into more entertaining activities and building leisure facilities to prepare for the coming challenge. I hope the next step is that IRs and the government increase talent in the hospitality field and create another strong industry other than casinos to attract tourists to stay longer in Macau.

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