Mr Jay Chun, Chairman of MGS Entertainment Show organizer the Macau Gaming Equipment Manufacturers Association (MGEMA), discusses the birth of the MGEMA and how it plans to help shape Macau’s future ahead of the 5th anniversary of MGS.
By Ben Blaschke
Ben Blaschke: The MGS Entertainment Show will celebrate its 5th anniversary this year. How does it feel to have reached this important milestone?
Jay Chun: It feels amazing that we are celebrating MGS’s 5th anniversary this year and as we say, “time flies.” It has really flown. I personally can’t believe that five years have already passed. And in the last couple of months, many of those who have been with us since day one have come to me to talk about how much MGS has evolved. Apart from being happy and excited, I am feeling extremely grateful.
I’d like to especially thank those who have been our main supporters, namely the governments of China and Macau, the Central Liaison Office, many government departments, as well as important members of the business community that have supported us in various ways, either by making things smoother for us, participating in the events or sponsoring events. The MGS Entertainment Show wouldn’t have become so successful if we hadn’t had all these valuable partners and friends.
We all know that doing a show is not easy and doing a show on this scale is very, very difficult indeed. Our aim, since day one, has been to promote the “Made in Macau” brand and to show to the worldwide entertainment industry what Macau can do. We were unsure, we had doubts about ourselves and we were afraid. However, with the results that we are having this year, soon you will be able to see it first hand. And with the results we had last year, MGS indeed has proven to be one of the most important events in the gaming and entertainment industry.
You know, last year MGS grew significantly with over 170 exhibitors and over 14,000 B2B visitors from more than 60 countries. And a few months ago, MGS was officially given the status of a UFI Approved International Event, which means that the global association of the exhibition industry certifies MGS as “high quality, providing exhibitors and visitors alike with the assurance of making a sound business investment.” We at the MGS Entertainment Show feel very pleased to have accomplished this in just a short few years.
BB: Let’s talk about the MGEMA itself. When was the idea for the MGEMA first born and what was your early vision for it?
JC: At the very beginning when we had this idea of establishing the MGEMA, we only thought we’d set up a platform to provide members an opportunity to get to know each other. We believed that, through business and social gatherings and get-togethers, a better understanding could be built and this could be the beginning of many wonderful business opportunities. Then we started doing MGS. Now it’s been five years and MGS is one of the main events that our members participate in.
BB: Who did MGEMA primarily look to for assistance in getting things moving forward in those early days?
JC: We technically didn’t look for external assistance at the very beginning, as Macau is so small and we are fortunate enough to have made a lot of very good friends who have given us a lot of support and participated in the MGEMA. The response from the public, including some of the relevant government offices, was amazing. Obviously, the team worked very hard to achieve this during the preparation period and then in the past five years too.
BB: What were the first tasks the MGEMA undertook upon formation and the main challenges it faced in those early days?
JC: We faced a lot of challenges. Just try to imagine us being a relative newcomer – everything needed to be established from scratch. The first tasks were to speak with potential members and also to come up with a shared goal. Then we were to speak with the supporting entities – the government offices and so on – to get their input and advice.
We didn’t want to be just doing it and we didn’t want to be mediocre. We wanted to do the best we could, so all such advice became really important for us in the early days. As a relatively new organization and one of the very few entities looking after the interests of gaming-related industries and businesses, we had to work hard to prove ourselves too so that people would have confidence that we could do a good job in initiatives such as MGS by offering them sound business opportunities.
BB: Has MGEMA fulfilled the vision you originally set or has its role changed from earlier expectations?
JC: Our aim since the MGEMA’s inception was to promote the “Made in Macau” brand and to ensure that our members were provided with business opportunities locally and outside of Macau. As a pioneer of the “Made in Macau” brand, the MGEMA has always strived to raise the international reputation of the Macau business community and to help its 200 members increase their market share through wider trading opportunities. Over the past year, the MGEMA has done a great job in providing its members with additional opportunities for business exchange and learning from experts from other countries and jurisdictions.
BB: Can you explain a bit about not only what the MGEMA does as a gaming industry representative but also how it does so?
JC: Over the years, from when we started until today, the MGEMA has had members from many different walks of life, as you will be able to see from the participation in last year’s and this year’s MGS events. Obviously, having a platform such as MGS and being able to do better in providing a better show, other businesses – not just in gaming – were able to participate in order to understand the Macau market better and also to cooperate and work with different suppliers and service providers.
Right now our members include not just gaming machine manufacturers, but also companies working in the creative industries, arts and culture and even local souvenirs. I’d say that, right now, the MGEMA doesn’t only represent companies catering to the gaming industry – it represents the whole “Made in Macau” image.
BB: Has the structure and/or membership of the MGEMA changed much over the past five years?
JC: The number of our members has been growing over the past five years and companies from other industries have joined. This is a wonderful change that we have seen in the structure and membership of the MGEMA.
BB: The gaming industry in Macau has endured some considerable ups and downs in recent years. What has been the main focus of the MGEMA over the past 12 months given that the local industry has enjoyed a pretty good run in that time?
JC: We, like many other businesses in Macau, were working very hard through the “bad” times which, fortunately, didn’t last long. We obviously believe in Macau and believe in the Macau story in the long term – and just like any other jurisdictions or simply any other companies, there will always be ups and downs.
We believe that the most important thing is that we maintain professionalism during the good times and the bad and we have been working with the primary aim of supporting our members. This has worked well over the past 12 months. At the end of the day, we are a business association and our hope is to drive business, so maintaining such integrity at all times has been very important, particularly in the past 12 months.
BB: The theme of this year’s MGS Entertainment Show is Smart City – Innovation and Interactive. Can you talk about this Smart City concept and why MGS has adopted it for 2017?
JC: The Smart City theme of this year’s show and summit is meant to bring focus to the major changes in the way our economies and communities function. The MGS Entertainment Show isn’t just about entertainment; it’s about the way we live day to day. Macau has recently signed an agreement with Alibaba Cloud to upgrade public services like the medical and transportation systems. This affects everyone – residents and tourists, workers and students – so businesses need to coordinate their growth plans with the changes to the structure of the economy.
Aside from the growth of cloud computing, which has already radically changed cities around China, we’re seeing robotics and biometrics and surveillance improving at a fast pace. What does this mean for communication between people? It’s going to feel very different when robots do security screenings and can speak 20 languages to travelers at airports. When machine learning gets incorporated into these tangible products, we’re really going to be interacting with our cities differently. We want MGS to be forward looking and to help introduce businesses and the public to this future.
BB: Macau is obviously a very unique place given the significant contribution the gaming industry makes to its finances. How does that affect the relationship industry bodies such as the MGEMA can have with the government?
JC: I wouldn’t think the government is looking at the MGEMA any differently than any other major associations or entities in Macau. As I said, our aim is to help Macau and to promote the “Made in Macau” brand and we don’t focus just on the gaming industry but on all the related industries too. In a way, I’d like to say that the government is giving a lot of support, but I think the support comes not because we are an industry body but because we are actually doing things that help the city.
BB: What initiatives would you like to see the Macau government implement to aid the gaming industry over the next 5-10 years?
JC: I think the Macau government has been going down the right path. All the initiatives to make the city better, such as the “world center for tourism and leisure” initiative and the “smart city” upgrades – I think the government is working very hard already. There have been changes at the top within the government administration and more and more is being done by the new people.
If I am to say what more can be done, I’d think that maybe further improvements to the infrastructure and the need to make sure that the local people are taken care of, not just by protecting them but by providing them better and more job opportunities, which, as I said, the government is already doing. But maybe the efforts can be further increased.
BB: Conversely, what do you feel Macau’s major gaming operators and manufacturers can do better?
JC: I think a better and closer working relationship, that we can all work together to benefit Macau. Obviously in many ways we are competitors, but our aim is to help Macau. Over the past several years, the major operators and manufacturers have started working a lot closer together and hopefully this can be improved further.
BB: Of course, diversification has been the buzz word for the past few years. How successful do you think both the government and the operators have been so far in diversifying?
JC: Again, I think we have been going down the right path and we’ve done a lot to bring MICE and sports and culture and nongaming attractions to Macau. Moving forward, I think we will need to refine our offerings and provide something that’s not just more, but something that’s better – more high-tech, more customer friendly and more suitable for tech-savvy young people.
BB: What is your ideal vision of Macau in the future?
JC: My vision is for Macau to continue leveraging its advantages of being central to the Asian gaming world, being the largest gaming market and being the primary link between China and Portuguesespeaking countries. I want us to become the world’s model of a “smart city.” Because of Macau’s size and the structure of our economy, we have an excellent opportunity to do this.
BB: Finally Mr Chun, between the MGEMA and MGS, Paradise, LT Game, Kampek and more, you’re a very busy man. How exactly do you share your time between your many roles and more importantly, what do you like to do on those rare occasions when you aren’t working?
JC: I don’t see my job as “working.” I enjoy my work and it is my personal interest and hobby. I believe that, if I only treat what I do as my “job,” then this will bring me pressure and this can be boring. But if working is my interest and hobby and this is what I like doing, then I am enjoying myself when I am busy. I feel great being busy.