Asia is always a topic of interest for international gambling operators and is often mentioned in gambling news articles – a region with many developed economies and home to 60% of the world population. Add to this a lightning-fast rate of digital technologies adoption, and you get a continent full of opportunities. However, strict regulations and conservative governments make it a challenging landscape for operators to navigate.
Read on for an overview of some key Asian gambling markets in 2021.
Asian markets attract operators with their untapped potential, but the region is not an easy one to enter. Most countries have restrictive gambling and betting regulations, with only a limited number of enterprises legally allowed to operate.
However, there seems to be a trend towards gradual legalization. Many countries where gambling has long been prohibited have witnessed the rise of black markets run by gambling syndicates, which offer no player protection or transparency. To combat this phenomenon – and monetize newfound entertainment habits of locals – some countries are changing their approach, slowly opening the door to gambling legalization starting from brick-and-mortar operations.
Gambling in China is illegal, with the exception of the two state-run lotteries – Welfare Lottery and Sports Lottery. However, Chinese nationals can gamble in two special administrative regions of the People’s Republic, Macau and Hong Kong.
The Chinese government’s staunchly anti-gambling stance has had a profound influence far beyond the country’s borders, with nearby countries often targeting Chinese tourists with their land-based casinos.
A former Portuguese colony, Macau is often called “the Las Vegas of Asia”. And its 41 casinos, millions of tourists, and countless neon lights seem to fully justify the moniker. Unlike Vegas, Macanese establishments focus on attracting high-stakes professional gamblers rather than casual players.
Despite its status as a legendary gambling destination, online casinos are banned on the island, with the local regulatory agency issuing a public warning in 2015.
Hong Kong is the only other special administrative region of China, which enjoys a relatively high degree of autonomy. Gambling is legal but strictly regulated. All forms of betting are a monopoly of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, while casino gaming is restricted to dedicated cruise ships – and even there, only when outside the island’s territorial waters.
Online casinos remain illegal, and the government is known to take action against black market operators.