IAG: Let’s start at the beginning. Tell us a little about your career before you entered gaming.
KR: I grew up in the suburb of Liverpool and Chester Hill, in Sydney, Australia. My mother was a single Mum who put herself through nursing school. To be honest I hated school and left in year 10. My escape from school came when I saw an ad in the paper for a job as a dental nurse, which I got; then I spent some time as a personal assistant before moving on into hospitality, pulling beers in a pub in Auburn in Sydney. But as soon as I saw the gaming room I was in – that’s all I wanted to do and I made the gaming room mine.
IAG: So that’s how you got into gaming?
KR: Yes, I started at Guildford Leagues as their promotions manager then was contracted by a Sydney Hotel in Liverpool … yes, strange to head back there … I ran the gaming rooms at a place called the Liverpool Hotel and Corner Pub, it was a unique two-licensed venue with 60 machines. In my time there we won an award as the number one gaming venue for hotels in all of New South Wales!
IAG: How did you join Paltronics?
KR: Stephen Cowan was one of the owners of Paltronics and the Liverpool hotel was one of Paltronics’ customers. Thankfully, one day Steve offered me a job in sales in New South Wales. I said that’s totally not me, but he said that’s why he wanted me! he didn’t want someone who was trained as a sales professional but rather someone who just cared about people. I’ve been with Paltronics ever since – that was 16 years ago.
IAG: How did you come to Macau?
KR: My husband-to-be was offered a senior executive job here in Macau with one of the large slots companies so I knew I was coming to Macau. Steve at Paltronics asked me to open Paltronics Asia, up here in Macau. They definitely would have set up here anyway as Sands was a major client, but the fact I was coming to Macau anyway just made it all work out nicely. So I found myself opening up the Asian office for Paltronics.
IAG: How was the transition from Sydney to Macau for you personally?
KR: Well at first easy, there used to be a pub here back when I first came called HQ. It was my second home – actually I lived above it, which was probably not such a great idea! I worked hard and partied hard and made a lot of friends. Three months later I was pregnant, and I was in shock. I was here to work and enjoy our adventure not to have babies!
I went from loving being in Macau for the first few months to resenting it … it was not Macau’s fault, it must have been the hormones! I wanted all the creature comforts of home and that was just not easy here … do you know how important white non-sweet bread is to a pregnant girl from Oz? (laughs) Anyway in the end I loved being pregnant but it was a massive culture shock – now I had more that just myself and my husband Chris to consider. I contemplated going home … honestly what kept me here was I didn’t want to let down my new husband or my boss.
I thought becoming a mother would change life the way I knew it but it didn’t, it just enhanced it. I just continued working and having fun. Bella just came with us … even to the occasional business meeting and expat poker game. We have two daughters now and they have the advantage of knowing another language and understanding that the world is a small place as all their friends come from all over the world. They think a plane flight is just like catching a bus … doesn’t everyone do it all the time? Ah, the expat kid!
IAG: In your opinion how has Macau changed over the years since you arrived?
KR: Over the last 10 years it has really changed in all sorts of ways. You know I am quite proud of Macau for accepting all of us westerners who suddenly came flooding in. We have been accepted graciously despite the fact that westerners bombarded Macau when all the new casinos opened, starting around 10 years ago. I think the thing that has changed the most is the local Macau people who have now embraced a lot more western culture.
There are coffee shops everywhere now which is very important if you were one who lived here in the early days! There are still some frustrating things that probably should have been changed a long time ago but I’m happy that the macanese like the new way of Macau. I understand some local people feel the city fast-forwarded too quickly in a way they weren’t ready for. For example, while wages have gone up the cost of living is crazy compared to what it used to be.
I’ll tell you something I hear from friends who used to live in Macau and who have gone home. They say, “there is nowhere like Macau.” And they’re right. The Macau expat community is full of people who care for each other – that is a fact!
IAG: Tell us a little about Paltronics.
KR: Paltronics is famous for its jackpot management system. We also have gaming and non-gaming media interfaces. We take all of a company’s marketing content and place it throughout the entire venue. If a jackpot is triggered, we make sure it is promoted and celebrated across the whole property. We have all the different types of jackpots (links) that overlay the casino management system. In Australia Paltronics has about 35 staff in our Taren Point office and here in Macau there are four of us permanently. I have to give credit to Steve and the Paltronics Australian start up crew. When we started Paltronics we were really small and we had a major competitor that had 100% of the New South Wales market. In just a few short years we became number one in New South Wales – quite an achievement I say.
This year you will see Paltronics in every single Macau concessionaire. We will have a Paltronics One Link jackpot and media system running in most of their properties.
IAG: How do Paltronics offerings differ in the Macau market compared with Australia?
KR: We really had to enhance our standalone product to better fit into a management system. It’s a scale issue, instead of hundreds of slots in a property like you might have in Australia, in Macau you’re dealing with thousands of slots in a property and that necessarily meant having to grow the product to handle that kind of volume. Paltronics has also moved into the table market in Asia. It happened gradually. I would say 2015 was the year we genuinely became a player in the table market.
But aside from products, a big difference is the way we do business here. In Australia, typically I would deal with one person at a venue. In Macau I have to liaise with people from four departments: IT, Marketing, Slots and Tables and one meeting can consist of 20 people and you!
IAG: What about the rest of Asia?
KR: Paltronics does business with most countries in Asia that have gaming such as Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam and Korea. Going to these countries is a bit like starting all over again. In Macau everyone knows each other and we are all friends but elsewhere you have to build those relationships. You might be surprised to know that in the other countries sometimes we actually say “no” to a full system sale! Why? Well sometimes operators want a product because they’ve seen it in Macau – but maybe that product isn’t suitable for them as a smaller operator compared to the enormous slot floors we see here in Macau. If we sell it to them, and eventually they decide that it was a waste of money, that’s not good for us in the long run. We have a standalone product that we believe suits smaller properties much better.
IAG: Who do you really admire in the industry?
KR: I really respect and admire Cath Burns. From a gaming perspective she is smart, fair, respectful, she has a broad knowledge base and has endless energy and that’s what I love about her! No matter how busy Industry profile she is she would never turn you away. I class myself lucky to know her the way I do.
IAG: What kind of growth do you predict in electronic gaming in the next few years across Asia?
KR: People have said there might be an oversupply issue and I think that might be true. But the place is so unpredictable! Steve’s predictions always seem to come true but I don’t want to quote him. He would be the one to ask!
IAG: You are very active in the International Ladies Club of Macau. How did you get involved and what do you see ILCM’s role as?
KR: I used to go to all the ILCM events and was asked to join the Board to focus on fund raising events. I knew I wanted to help but cannot bring myself to detach emotionally from a lot of the sadness that comes with the charities ICLM supports. So I became the Director of Fundraising Events; my job is to get the money! I do that, but what I do is nothing compared to what the community service team of ILCM achieve. They are selfless and they are amazing. But it doesn’t matter what I have done to change ILCM; so many amazing women built it over a long period of time. As for the role the ILCM plays in Macau, I think it highlights the people that slip through the gaps and who need help, especially to the expat community.
IAG: What does Kylie Rogers like to do in her spare time?
KR: I love my girls and just happen to think they are cool kids so I try to take them everywhere. Travelling is my passion as anyone who knows me knows … I just don’t like to sit still! Yes and I like to party that will be no surprise to anybody!
IAG: Where do you see yourself in five to ten years?
KR: I’ve been with Steve at Paltronics 16 years and it’s been phenomenal. But five to ten years from now it would be time to pass on the Paltronics baton to a younger, more dynamic team. By then I hope to be surrounded by the family I left behind back in Australia – and it must be somewhere on the water! I hope that I have a successful family business. I’ll let you in on a secret – I’d like to own a pub or a bar actually, which again would be no surprise to anyone!