This article is an edited version of the speech made by GBGC Chief Executive Warwick Bartlett at the iGaming 360 conference in Madrid
For the customers of the gambling industry the last 18 months has been quite challenging. After the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the various runs on the banks a paralysis of non essential spending took place. Some businesses faced serious problems particularly those facing the renewal of the debt agreements either with banks or bonds.
Government and Central Banks response was to introduce quantitative easing, liquidity returned to the banks, but left governments with big deficits.
The consumer now feels more confident, business is picking up.
Throughout this period gambling has held up well. It has not been immune from the problems and the land based sector has suffered more than online.
The land based casinos are still suffering from the smoking ban and they face problems of rising overhead during a period of falling revenue. Las Vegas has been hit by the slowdown in the US economy but I sense that the worst maybe over. However Macau continues to steam ahead on the back of China' 8.6% growth in GDP. Macau is up 57% on in the first quarter of 2010 compared to last year.
Singapore has seen the opening of Sentosa and Marina Bay opens this year and we predict it will take 70% of the local market because of better location and the fact LVS is used to trading in a competitive environment.
These iconic developments will stimulate interest in gambling which will be good for Internet.
The Internet is such a compelling business model by comparison and most of the listed Internet companies are not carrying debt on their balance sheets. Interestingly that even during the slump with unemployment picking up this gave more people time for low stake gambling.
What we are seeing now is a global shift in wealth creation from the developed countries in the West to those in the East and South America.
I have discussed on many occasions the principle drivers of Internet but now added to that list is the ability to reach new and expanding markets quickly to take advantage of the shift in wealth that is taking place.
Forecasting the market following the credit crunch and governments response has never been more difficult. We note that some forecasts for the industry go up to 2015, frankly they are not worth the paper they are printed on and it astounds us that people actually make investment decisions based on such forecasts.
This Chart produced by the Bank of England forecasts GDP up to 2013 but note the wide margin of error built in – 0.5% to +6%. From recession to boom.
The wide margin of error exists probably because it is not clear what government’s next move will be.
The Options for Government
Which option would you choose if you were elected the leader of your country?
Note: On a show of hands at the conference, the first option was the most popular – just goes to show how honourable and responsible the e-gaming executives are!
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GBGC also produces the comprehensive Global Gambling Report, currently in its fourth edition, as well as data and analysis on the Interactive Gambling sector.
The gambling statistics and forecasts that are contained within the Global Gambling Report have become widely recognised within the industry, the financial community and the Media, as the industry standard for sizing both the online and offline gambling markets.