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Glyn Thomas talks with Peter Johns, Vice President, Electronic Games, Gaming Operations, Galaxy Macau. 

Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd reported an annual net profit more than doubled last year to HK$7.4 billion ($953 million) from HK$3 billion in 2011. Revenue rose 38 percent to HK$56.7 billion - these are highly impressive figures in a highly competitive gaming destination.

During your 28 years in the industry you have amassed a great deal of experience especially in electronic gaming and along the way even found time to gain a Master’s degree. What innovations during that time have impressed you most & why especially with regards to game development & the advancements in Slot machines and Multiplayer’s capabilities? Are there any stand-out manufacturers in your opinion?

When I started in Gaming, it was back in the 80s so there have been a lot of innovations since then, most of which these days seem the norm. Mechanical Reels to Stepper, Hopper tokenisation to TiTo etc, RFID, Asset tracking cash boxes. Within games there have not been as much as I imagined, The ETG product as had some smarts added but they came out in the 90s and had a decade of no real innovation. Lately in Macau the link to live dealt tables and electronic terminals has taken off whereas it was shunned 6 years ago when first introduced, but with recent table caps this has really gained market share, and filled a growing niche. Link animation and management has greatly improved; we customise all our links to the property using local experts Like IDnerd from Hong Kong using local studios which gives us great customised Asian centric 3d graphics that we can theme and change easily. Server based and Downloadable games have eventually become a reality but certain regulations prevent attaining the maximum potential from these in this mass market.

In Macau Slot play is split between Mass and High End. Aristocrat rule the roost with High denomination, but there is some high competition for innovative games on mass floors SHFL’s and recent link product Duo Fu Duo Cai is one of the best performing games I’ve seen in years. Aruze also have some innovative high performers.

What gaming systems and equipment installed over recent years in the Casino have made the biggest significant difference, and what slot machines have been the most successful or are there several in both cases?

In Macau I have had the pleasure of installing several systems starting with PGI, at the Galaxy clubs, IGT at MGM Grand Macau and Bally SDS here at Galaxy Macau. Unfortunately I’d have to say I’ve yet to see a perfect system, the trouble with trying to be the jack of all trades is you usually end up the master of none. As Data collection goes they do their job, though I believe casinos should design and build their own reporting matrix systems. The SMARTs bonus suites offered on screen have some amazing promotional aspects, though they have been slow to take hold here due to their English centric design.

I believe the real move forward here would be when we really take advantage of Mobile Apps, Geo fencing and other technology like NFC (Near Field Communications) capabilities using smart phone based tools to communicate to our players both inside and outside of our casinos.













Can you explain a little more about Galaxy, how it has evolved from the original opening in comparison to present day?  

Since the opening of Galaxy Macau, it has been very popular and attracts many mass visitations, and this market trend has been within our expectation. We have the largest land bank among the peers, so when more people visit, we believe we have the highest capacity to provide all kinds of gaming and entertainment facilities to offer the best customer experience. We will continue to focus on growing the premium mass and mass segment as planned.

We have recently completed the successful opening of the electronics gaming installation that increased the floor to over 1400 EGM’s - a major undertaking that also incorporated what many consider to the most luxurious high limit slot lounge in Asia.

With construction of the second phase of the resort by HK$3 billion to HK$19.6 billion, and with another HK$50 billion to HK$60 billion to be spent on the third and fourth phases, can you explain to our readers the details of what is involved and the timescale involved? When is the second phase development  due to start and what’s planned for phases 3 & 4?

Phase 2 construction commencement: Q1 2012.
Phase 2 is scheduled to be completed in mid 2015

The planned investment of Phase 2 is HK$19.6 bn. The Asian-centric service philosophy will continue in Phase 2 and 95% of the expansion will introduce even more non-gaming elements to attract middle-class family travellers seeking a world class holiday experience and help lengthen the average stay of visitors from 2 to 2.5 days.

Phase 2 virtually doubles the size of Galaxy Macau to 1 million square meters.

Galaxy Macau Phase 2 project introduces 2 renowned luxury hotel brands namely the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott, providing over 1,300 guest rooms and suites.

Retail boulevard will be expanded to over 100,000 square meters to accommodate over 200 luxury stores.Offer an array of elegantly designed and catered meeting or banquet space options making the collective hosting capacity for Phase 1 and 2 of up to 3,000 guests. Expand F&B outlets by over 45 to over 100 restaurants, cafes, bars and lounges.

Announced plans in December 2012 for Phases 3 & 4.

Expanding the entire building area of GEG on Cotai to 2 million square meters.
A state of the art multi-purpose 10,000 seat arena for world class entertainment and sporting events, as well as a 1,500 seat multi-purpose showroom. A 50,000-square-meter convention centre with a capacity up to 5,000 guests. We expect to begin construction by the end of 2013 or in early 2014.

Does the Galaxy provide a Privilege and rewards program?

At Galaxy Macau, we are offering the Galaxy Privilege Club membership to our guests and gamers. The program was the 1st loyalty program in Macau which allows members to earn points through both gaming and non-gaming activities. With the program, members can have exclusive access to a wide range of fun and exciting benefits, namely dining, accommodation, shopping, entertainment, transportation, etc. Every dollar spent earns so members can also enjoy privileges like discount offers, birthday rewards, priority member services, accommodation upgrades, redemption program, etc.

Macau must be a popular choice of location for many of the big corporations to host there AGM’s along with exhibitions & conferences. How do the facilities for exhibitions and conferences at the Galaxy compare with alternative venues?

Galaxy Macau currently features facilities for exhibition and conference which can house a total of 1,100 guests across three hotels. Responding to the growing need for group function space, Galaxy Macau Phase 2 will offer an array of elegantly designed and catered meeting or banquet space options making the collective hosting for Phase 2 up to 2,000 guests.

In our Phase 3 and 4, we will focus on providing an unprecedented range of innovative entertainment, cultural and MICE facilities. We expect to add a state of the art multipurpose

10,000-seat arena for world-class entertainment and sporting events. In addition, we plan to feature a 1,500 multi-purpose showroom and a 50,000 square-meter convention centre that can seat up to 5,000 guests among other things.

Entertainment is also a big factor, what are the facilities for staging concerts and do you provide a busy schedule of different entertainment and entertainers or do you have a number of regular resident singers and bands?

Entertainment in Galaxy Macau comprises of regional and international acts, with a spectrum of various performances from dance shows to live band. Currently in Pearl Lounge of the gaming floor, we have numerous groups with different performance sets scheduled immaculately to keep our gaming patrons entertained with the 14 hour nonstop Entertainment. Also, we also host a series “Stars at Galaxy Music Show” every month to Jinmen & Mass Gaming valuable guests.

A quality designed a layout shopping mall with high end retailers makes for a popular pastime for those visitors to the resort. What is the mix at the Galaxy regarding the high end retail brands?

In Galaxy Macau Phase 1, we have a dazzling selection of the finest brands from Asia and around the world, along with offerings from local purveyors at our East and West Promenades. Our 35,000-square-meter retail area features over 20 boutiques and retail outlets, which is an extensive mix of jewellery and gold, personal care, electronics, watches, luxury accessories, optical, lifestyle and gifts, and specialty shops.

Our Phase 2 will feature a retail area of 35,000 square meters with a whole new line of over 160 retail outlets, brining luxury brands from around the world to round out the fully integrated destination resort experience.

What aspects of your role do you find most satisfying?

 I enjoy getting nothing and making it in to something, or turning good in to great, whether this is designing a product mix and floor design from scratch or turning a dud machine in to a winner by adding mystery jackpots or other bonus features. Macau is always challenging in this way, especially for Electronic Games, who is still seen as a poor sister to tables, yet has some of the biggest growth and yields the best return for the casinos bottom line. I am a very spatial in my visualization, so when I look at floor plans I see them in three dimension, which ensure I layout floors that have character and style and not just rows and rows of bright lights. Seeing my designs perform better is always satisfying.

Do you operate slot tournaments at the Galaxy?

Yes we run both high end and Mass tournaments and both are accepted well by the Asian player.

Do you have TITO / Smart cards?

- Yes we are 100% fully TITO in all our Machines, our players cards use Magnetic strip technology and we are looking at Smartphone apps.

Have you a favourite quote or phrase?

When we train and coach our staff in our high customer service standards I like to ask the question “When is the best time to tell someone you love them?” This usually prompts many answers, and can be used for a myriad of situations, but there is of course only one true one.

If your business shows its best customers they love them by the rewards and incentives it extends or by its excellence in standards as in “Galaxy’s Asian heart service” the simple answer will always be: “Before someone else does”.

Finally, when you are not at work – how do you relax?

As soon as I can I get far from Casino life, (not this Magazine. Lol) although I have many friends in the industry, I like to socialise in circles outside of work, I travel a lot and enjoy skiing and mountain biking.