Report: Online gambling in Asia and New Zealand
In Asia, land-based casinos are raking in the revenue, particularly in Singapore and Macau, which enjoy bigger numbers and more visitors than Las Vegas.
But that growth isn’t translating to internet gambling. In Asia, online gambling is either strictly banned and blocked (as in China, Malaysia and Vietnam) or completely unregulated (as in India). This regulatory free-for-all, combined with the less-than-certain stability of many Asian governments, prevents a lot of big-name casino affiliate programs from entering Asian markets.
And that doesn’t look like it’ll change any time soon. Here’s the latest:
India laws hopelessly out of date
India is an enormous potential market where gaming is allowed but unregulated, sort of like the U.S. pre-UIGEA. “Online gambling in India is neither legal nor illegal,” GamingZion.com explains. “In fact, there are no provisions whatsoever in Indian law that mention gambling online.
“Because land-based gambling is banned through much of India many assume this extends to the internet, but there are no enforcement policies that might prevent Indian players from gambling online, so it happens regularly.”
“Taking into account that betting in sports is prohibited in India, it remains to be ascertained whether the government will take steps to regulate sports betting on websites registered outside India, where gambling and betting are legal,” observes Justice Mukul Mudgal via TheHindu.com.
But even for those operators who cater to the Indian online gambling market (and not many do), problems with internet connectivity there prevent the market from maturing. There are other roadblocks, such as government regulators widely believed to be corrupt and who adhere to old-fashioned laws designed to line pockets, not boost economics. (But that’s not really much different than the U.S. situation, is it?)
The Islam Factor
Part of the Indian reluctance to regulate online gambling, or really deal with any form of gambling, can probably be attributed to the country’s Muslim majority. Historically, Muslim nations have been far less friendly towards gambling than other cultures. Stricter interpretations of Muslim law forbid it altogether.
That may be slowly changing, though. Covers.com connected the recent turmoil in Middle East nations like Egypt and Libya to a sign that strict religious control over personal freedoms (which include gambling) may be fading, paving the way for more regulation in the future.
“It’s a pretty good bet that casino giants and online companies are keeping a close eye on developments in the Middle East,” writes Larry Josephson. “Gambling has always been pretty much off-limits in the area, but there are signs that the Muslim-dominated part of the world might someday be open to legal wagering.”
One of Asia’s most predominantly Muslim nations, Malaysia, is the one struggling most with online gambling. Arrests for online gambling activities are commonplace, such as the recent crackdown in George Town on the island of Penang.
And yet, the Malaysian people are embracing gambling in a big way. “In quite a number of neighbourhoods, there is usually now a cybercafé operating an Internet casino,” explains Free Malaysia Today.
“While it is anybody’s guess how much the government is losing in revenue from this illegal activity, as calls to legalise Internet gaming have been made by certain quarters, the authorities are now caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
New Zealand just says no
Chalk New Zealand up with India (and America) as one of the world’s nations that refuse to regulate online gambling. Okay, we know that New Zealand isn’t part of Asia — it’s more appropriately considered part of Polynesia, or Oceania, and is regularly lumped into Australian culture, as well.
But there’s no doubt that NZ’s biggest city, Auckland, is influenced greatly by the Asian world. And, like the Asian countries above, government leaders are loudly stating that regulated online gambling isn’t going to happen.
A new plan to extend the licensure for Auckland’s famous Sky City Casino explicitly states that “the government will not … allow Sky City an Internet gaming license,” Bloomberg reports.
The affiliate angle
What options remain to gaming affiliates looking to enter the Asian market? Are any Asian nations on your affiliate marketing map? Sound off in the comments and let us know what your experiences have been.