COO at Alphaslot
Albert Yu is a known gaming consultant who wears several hats. He is the COO at Alphaslot and the CSO at International Alliance Systems Limited in Macau.
You are a well-known name in the industry, but please introduce yourself to our readers. What is your background, experience, and how you ended up in the industry [and stayed]?
Appreciate for having me. Frankly I wouldn’t have considered myself a well-known name in the industry, there are certainly numerous pioneers who have worked hard before me trying to improve our industry; I am grateful to the companies and mentors who brought me along the way.
Long story short, I was born in HK, went to the US & Canada for almost 10 years to study at a young age. Returned to HK and took over a family business, literally running an OEM/ODM manufacturing factory for camera bags and accessories. Referred by a good Japanese friend of mine to join Aruze Gaming back in 2010, and that’s how I started my gaming career.
In the current world situation, it will be interesting to hear from you how do you envision the land-based handling it in 2020. What is your prediction: “what is next?”
The current situation with COVID certainly affected every industry, and it will have a lingering effect for the whole world. Land-based gaming, no different from any other retail businesses, is experiencing something that’s never been heard of, which is a total shutdown. It is premature to assume when things are going to return to normal as there are too much uncertainties, but an optimistic guess would be by the end of 2020.
I think the industry is at a crossroad, even before the virus outbreak; to a certain extent I think this unfortunate situation we are in, speeds up the industry’s transformation. The speed of new technologies applications will be faster than before. 5G, AI, Blockchain & Big Data will change the eco-system of land-based gaming. It is inevitable for operators and suppliers to try something new, because what if COVID last longer than we anticipated, or what if there is a new type of virus outbreak? The industry will have to take all serious considerations in order to keep their business afloat.
What current challenges are you facing in the industry?
Chicken and egg question. Entertainment value vs Regulations. Land-based gaming is highly regulated, so much so it limits the amount of creativity gaming suppliers can design their games and the innovativeness casino operators can shuffle with their gaming floor.
Look at the social/mobile games & eSports industry, the entertainment value is enormous thus it’s attracting millions of players and it’s rapidly growing. Given the current crisis, it may even grow faster than before since everyone is staying home and social distancing.
How we apply these concepts of social/mobile/eSports into land-based gaming will be one of the biggest challenges, and definitely the regulation part, not least.
What is your biggest achievement so far in your current role?
I’ve a few roles as we speak but what I enjoyed most is to be a part of an innovative team, creating solutions and products that will move the industry forward. Thinking out of the box, easier said than done but someone must take the first step, trial and error, right?
Two famous quotes by the sports greats “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” & “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed” inspire me.
Do you think that land-based casinos are ready to go digital, blockchain, crypto and follow the Bitcoin casino trends?
Yes and No.
There is online gaming, digital/cloud-based gaming, blockchain gaming and crypto gaming. The products and solutions are there. Are they perfect? No. Are they ready to transform land-based industry? Not yet. Are the land-based regulations ready for these changes? Definitely not yet.
It will take a little more time for those technologies to mature, to prove that it can be applied to land-based and to satisfy the current compliance and regulations. The regulators, on the other hand, will have to step out of the box and work with these technologies as well. It takes two to tango.
Share with us your favorite project so far, the one you are most proud of as of today
Probably my time at Aruze Gaming, which also embarks my gaming career. From zero gaming knowledge I learned a great deal during those 7 years, for which I appreciate and am grateful to my colleagues and peers.
Hopefully the event industry could open doors again soon – where in the world we could see you in the upcoming months, if so.
I’ll be at home, social distancing myself 😊
Joking aside, if the travel bans are lifted and the virus situation are under control then I’ll be moving around attending/speaking at gaming shows/conferences and catching up with all my industry friends.
Do you have some predictions for 2020 – what will be the BIG thing, according to you to happen in the industry?
2020 will be an idle year, probably the first time in the history BUT it will also be the year where innovations are at the forefront. I’d expect operators and suppliers to come up with some interesting and innovative solutions/products, probably to specifically minimize the damage from a future virus outbreak.
Tell us a secret – if you could play only one game until the end of the world – what it would be?
Ultima Online, probably the first massively successful MMORPG game. I’m an old timer, but this game tops my list, I’m literally hooked back then playing hours every single day.