Gambling in Asia

While many religions and moralists may object to the act of gambling, it cannot be denied that it could, through proper legalization and monitoring, benefit nations as a whole. Illegal gambling may pose problems to a society, but as many nations are slowly discovering, its legalization coupled with proper controls can, in fact, turn out to be a better solution.

Around the world, western countries like the United States of America remains to be the few places to earn revenue through legal gambling. This, however, does not mean that Asian countries are missing out this big opportunity. Already countries like Macau are advancing in their ‘gambling industry’, reaping about US$2.5 billion in early of year 2011. Of course, Macau, otherwise known as the ‘Monte Carlo of the Orient’ is quite unique, having had legalized gambling since the 1850s and is still the only Chinese territory that fully allows gambling. In fact, gambling is what boosts its tourism sectors, making it Macau’s biggest source of income.

Other countries, having witnessed the lucrative benefits, slowly but surely followed suits. In Malaysia, it is legal to gamble as long as it is operated under government permit or license; gambling at homes or in public places are considered as illegal. However, the legality of gambling are also restricted to certain ages and religions – one must be a non-Muslim and over the age of 18 in order to enter any legal gambling premises. By far, Genting Highlands’ casino resorts still draw large group of ‘tourists’, most of them from neighboring countries.

Betting Map asia
Betting Map asia

One of these neighboring countries happens to be Singapore, who used to be an anti-gambling nation. As a result, most gambling Singaporeans would travel to Malaysia and few came home with a fortune. Pressured to retain those income within Singapore as well as to boost the tourism industry, Singapore finally lifted its gambling ban in year 2005 and the very first Singapore casino was opened to public in early year 2010. The billions of dollars poured into this economy certainly did not disappoint; not only have the casinos vastly improved the country’s tourism but it was also predicted that Singapore may take over Last Vegas’ spot of the world’s second largest gambling hub.

But there is yet another up and coming Asian country that will attempt to knock Singapore off its glorious seat, and may just as well do so successfully. The Philippines generated about US$69.58 million in gambling industry in early year of 2011, all thanks to their gambling-favored laws that allow both offline and online casinos. There has yet to be any precedence or law that prevents the legitimization of online gambling. This is not surprising as gambling not only brought in tourists and income, it is also indirectly brought in foreign investors, something that the Philippines are lacking. However, legal online gambling sites are limited to only foreigners while Filipinos can gamble away at any government owned sites.

With more Asian countries slowly opening up to the idea of an industry for legal gambling, it may not be long before Asia become the main port in gambling tourism. Even now, the Asia market is slowly increasing and more people are flocking over for an integrated experience – from traveling, sightseeing, and all the way to gambling.