10 Years Ago: Networked

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In this new regular feature in IAG to celebrate 16 years covering the Asian gaming and leisure industry, we look back at our cover story from exactly 10 years ago, titled Networked, to rediscover what was making the news in August 2011!

It may not have proved as transformational for Macaus casino industry as was hoped, but it did at least highlight the potential for innovation within an industry many believe to be living on borrowed time.

In the August 2011 issue of Inside Asian Gaming, we spoke with executives of Goldenway a unique VIP operator looking to shake up the traditional junket model. The idea was two-fold: to implement a system whereby players would pay up front in cash rather than be issued credit, and to recruit those players via a dedicated website rather than relying on agents.

Those concepts seemed ambitious then and still do to this day, although Goldenways concept was intriguing. By utilizing a cash over credit model, the junket could eliminate risks related to debt collection and ensure players were not over-extending. Addressing questions over the very reason credit-based play exists in the first place access to funds Goldenway told IAG that its product was primarily targeted towards high-end players looking for an entertainment experience rather than the more traditional junket customer.

However, it also hoped that by recruiting players directly via a website, it could also provide better rebates by cutting out the need to pay a percentage of commissions to agents.

Our management structure is modern and a long way from the traditional image of Macau junket management and gangsters, said Goldenways Jerry Tse at the time.

Its about creating new channels and a new environment for the guests. We strongly believe this model the cash model for VIP play will help to improve the image of Macau and help in developing it as a tourism destination.

Goldenways concept was certainly inventive, even if the VIP industry has since undergone a massive contraction due to regional economic decline, Chinas anti-graft initiatives and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.

But if the junket industry is to enjoy a prosperous future, it at least gives pause for thinking outside the box.