The Asian continent makes up the largest gambling market in the world. This is, perhaps, not a massive surprise seeing as the continent itself accounts for more than 60% of the world’s population.
As expected, some of the trends in the global gambling market are being replicated in the Asian market. The most common among those trends include the increased reliance on online gambling and the increasing use of mobile gadgets.
The region has continued to evolve in different ways to meet up with the gambling needs of the wider populace.
One of the major areas of evolution is with regard to regulation: the governments in the region have devised different regulations that allow them to live with gambling, whilst keeping tabs on the general activities of patrons.
This piece takes a look at the gambling market in Thailand, with a brief stop on the doorsteps of other Asian giants like China and Japan.
In Thailand, gambling is regulated by multiple laws and all of them point to the simple fact that gambling is illegal here. However, it hasn’t prevented the populace from stoking the fires of their gambling.
The country has only two forms of gambling for people who would rather gamble legitimately.
This includes the national horse races and the national lottery. The former is mostly meant for the upper class and is recorded mostly in Bangkok, placed 9th in top 10 emerging cities in the world. Everyone else tries their luck with the national lottery.
To cater for the gambling demands of Thai citizens, there are casinos in Cambodia, Burma and Laos, which Thai citizens patronise. Customers are also able to play online from any location and then visit the offices of the casinos in person to claim any winnings.
Online gambling in general, aside from those managed by casino houses in nearby countries, is also popular.
This mostly covers sports betting and casino games. Most operators are licensed, and operate from other countries such as the UK or Philippines.
The locals find the foreign sites to have more in-play betting options, a higher level of transparency and lesser chance of being denied winnings.
However, they patronise the local bookies more because of the familiar interface and, most importantly, the easier payment option.
The biggest patrons of UK betting sites are as you would expect, educated English speakers that are Thai citizens or foreign nationals in Thailand for a fixed period of time.
What of China and Japan?
In Japan, online gambling is not allowed. In fact, gambling as a whole is tightly controlled. The only forms of gambling allowed include lottery, scratch cards and the different forms of racing including horse, bicycle, motorcycles and powerboat racing.
Interestingly however, there are no measures stopping people from accessing foreign gambling sites. Restrictions mean locals cannot walk in to a nearby shop to bet on football games in Europe or Tennis games in the USA but they can do so online.
Betting with international gambling sites also allows players to gamble on more complex options like fixed odds, live sports, casino, poker games etc.
In China, there are several forms of betting allowed. This includes sports betting, lottery and slot machines gaming. Mahjong, poker, casino games and sports-betting with non-approved sites are prohibited. All forms of betting in mainland China has to go through the Chinese Sports Lottery commission first.
Operators, promoters, agents etc. of banned games are often arrested by the authorities. Online gambling on international sites is also illegal in China, but players enjoy gaming through the ‘backdoor’ and cash in on winnings through offshore accounts.
People who prefer to play land-based casino games make the short trip to Macau, where all forms of gambling are allowed.
It is no surprise that Macau and the Philippines have been noted by experts as the fastest growing gambling hubs in the continent. Some online gamblers, who prefer to stay clean, also travel to Macau on select days to play their games.
In summary, gambling in Asia has remained largely controlled but it hasn’t stopped the industry from growing.
Gambling companies are taking advantage of any loopholes in legislation to snag up thousands of prospective customers.
Experts believe it is only a matter of time before gamblers begin to enjoy the same freedom as enjoyed by people in the United Kingdom and other parts of the globe. Until then, gamblers in Asia will continue to help themselves in any way possible.