Tristan Sjöberg, TCSJOHNHUXLEY: “Casino legalisation in Thailand will redraw the mass-market Asian gaming map”

Tristan Sjöberg, executive chairman TCSJOHNHUXLEY.
Tristan Sjöberg, executive chairman TCSJOHNHUXLEY.

The executive chairman of TCSJOHNHUXLEY, caught up with Focus Gaming News on the possible legalisation of casinos in Thailand and the impact it will have on the Asian gaming market.

Exclusive interview.- The project to legalize casinos in Thailand is moving forward and may have a resolution in the coming months, which would redefine the landscape of the gaming industry in the Asian market.

To learn more about the effects that this news would have, Focus Gaming News spoke exclusively with Tristan Sjöberg, executive chairman of TCSJOHNHUXLEY, who analysed the situation and provided an overview of the future of the industry in Asia.

How do you think the industry’s landscape in the Asian continent will change if Thailand finally legalises casinos?

Thailand is the number 1 tourist holiday for Chinese citizens. With short flight times from most of China and convenient visa-on-arrival schemes, it is easy to understand why Chinese tourists go to Thailand more than any other country. 

This will definitely impact mass market visitations in both Macau, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Singapore will be less affected as it caters more for the premium mass and VIP markets. Still, quite a few questions remain unanswered, such as the number of licences and the size of the gaming floor etc., but I think it will redraw the mass-market Asian gaming map if the Thailand government chooses such a path.

What do you think are the chances of this happening?

Very high, if I were a betting man then I would give odds of 3/5 of casinos opening within 5 years. 

How does Macau stand in this scenario in which more and more countries in the region are legalizing gambling?

I think the Macau market will always be a leader on the Asian circuit as the overwhelming nearby catchment population is so voluminous and the quality of the gaming facilities. But over the next 10 years or so I think other, burgeoning, jurisdictions with something else to offer will take market share and the total Asian GGR will be more spread across the continent, especially considering the contraction of the junket market in Macau.  

“I think the Macau market will always be a leader on the Asian circuit.”

Tristan Sjöberg, executive chairman TCSJOHNHUXLEY.

How do you see the evolution of the gaming industry on the continent today? What is still missing compared to other more developed markets?

I think more non-gaming world-class entertainment options and, to a lesser degree, sporting events. Las Vegas has top-notch shows and residencies along with the NHL, NFL and F1 events. London has the West End and EPL. One of the main attractions of the Singapore IRs is the fact that Singapore has a lot more to offer than just gaming, such as great restaurants and shopping, which builds market share resilience for the long term. 

One of the main problems the governments face in the continent is the increasing appearance of illegal gambling centres, often linked to human trafficking. What measures do you think are essential to eradicate these types of practices?

Strong legislation and equally strong enforcement of local laws. As simple as that. 

What analysis do you make of the gaming industry in the continent for 2023?

I am positive. I think 2023 will be the year of recovery and building for the future. Macau is already seeing the recovery taking place; Singapore has been on that path since Q2 2022. The Philippines’ operators took the opportunity to seize market share when Macau was closed, and they did it well.

They will look to build on that and with the potential of gaming reform in the country I think they will continue to grow their market share. Exciting new projects in other parts of Asia will also open their doors to the public in 12 – 16 months’ time so I am bullish for both 2023 and beyond.

“I think 2023 will be the year of recovery and building for the future.”

Tristan Sjöberg, executive chairman TCSJOHNHUXLEY.
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