Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported that casino revenue in Macau surged 70 percent in July from a year ago. The former Portuguese colony is now the world’s largest gaming hub, having surpassed the Las Vegas Strip for supremacy in 2006. Macau’s casinos had a record 119 billion patacas (roughly $14.89 billion) in revenue last year, 9.7 percent higher than in 2008.

GSA has been active across Asia for years, we have a growing relationship with the Macau Polytechnic Institute where we train the engineers who will build the next generation of devices and systems.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, GSA recently welcomed the European Casino Association as an Affiliate Member. The ECA represents more than 1,000 casinos in 23 countries across Europe, and we expect input from their operator members will be invaluable in shaping how casinos operate and serve customers.

Gaming is flourishing around the world, and new players are constantly trialing gaming as an option for their entertainment dollar. So whether the player is in Macau, Las Vegas or Monaco, gaming operators must compete with the latest technologies offered by other entertainment options from Wii to 3D films.

Interestingly, at the recent G2E Asia, suppliers and operators were asking us, “How can GSA help me today?” The answer, of course, is that GSA can help you solve problems in a way that no other organization can. Why? GSA is the only organization in the industry that brings people together to find ways to remain competitive and save money at the same time.

For operators and suppliers in Asia, Europe and everywhere in the world, standards are opening doors to incredible technologies that increase the player’s excitement and entertainment value, and allow gaming to be a major competitive force for consumer’s dollars.

Our role for today and tomorrow

Let’s take a look at how GSA is helping the two groups right now, starting with suppliers. GSA was formed by suppliers and suppliers make up the majority of our membership today. The impetus behind GSA’s creation was expense – it was very costly and time-consuming for suppliers to build market-specific products and developing multiple protocols was becoming cost-prohibitive to conduct business on a global scale, especially as gaming began to surge internationally. Today, GSA is proud of our protocols that are fueling the next phase of business, breaking down barriers to entry and reducing business costs. There is more we can do, and suppliers will continue to play a vital role in GSA’s future.

GSA can help the operator community in several ways.

First, GSA’s supplier members have developed the next generation of products that will keep the gaming industry competitive against other entertainment industries for years to come.

Second, as international group, GSA is the only organization that understands gaming technology and its effect on the industry across jurisdictions.

Imagine if Apple invited you to a development meeting and asked you exactly what you wanted in the next iPhone. That’s the level of technology our supplier members discuss and want operator input on, so that, together, we can create a more vibrant experience that is future-ready for tomorrow’s consumers.

But it’s not enough for us to simply create new devices and systems and turn them loose into the marketplace. Suppliers and operators need to know that they can be sure all the new products running on GSA standards will work with the operator’s current system and with each other.

One way to be sure is the simple fact that they are running on GSA standard protocols and not on a wide variety of proprietary protocols. And to add another layer of assurance, operators and suppliers can rely on GSA’s Certification Program.

Designed with the end user in mind (operators), our Certification Program helps to ensure correct and consistent GSA protocol implementation. The program is based on International Standards Organization (ISO) 17025.

The Certification Program was specifically designed to promote interoperability and assure Operators that the new products they have invested in will talk to each other. Certification ensures consistent interpretation and implementation of GSA open standards. Although certified games and devices will not eliminate all communication problems in a casino, early results from regulators indicate that that the applications tested for GSA compliance work as expected.

With groundbreaking numbers coming out of Macau, we must be constantly mindful of our opportunities to capture and retain new customers in that region and around the world. Standards are the driving force behind the technologies that will enable us to compete. GSA standards drive innovation.