News / Asia

Asia Gambling Expansion Not Likely to Offset Macau

FILE - a croupier counts the chips at a baccarat gaming table inside a casino during the opening day of Sheraton Macao Hotel at the Sands Cotai Central in Macau.
FILE - a croupier counts the chips at a baccarat gaming table inside a casino during the opening day of Sheraton Macao Hotel at the Sands Cotai Central in Macau.
A number of countries in Asia are considering relaxing their gambling legislation to cash in on an expanding pool of wealthy gamers from the world's most populous and fastest growing nations. This may pose a possible threat to the world's biggest gambling center, Macau.

According to some, 2014 could be the year Japan legalizes gambling. The country's ruling party has submitted a bill to the parliament.  If it goes through, which many expect to happen, it could turn Japan into the world's second largest gambling market.

But the country is far from the only one in Asia with its eyes on gaming. Plans to liberalize or expand the gambling industry are ongoing throughout the region.

Gambling analyst David Green said the reason is that the Asian market is still largely untapped.

He said that in Asia, home to the world's most populous countries, people are getting old and wealthy at a record speed. “You've got a confluence of factors which are driving the capability of people to spend money, they all have the propensity to do it, they enjoy gambling, it is part of the culture. So there is almost an endless supply of potential gamblers,” Green stated.

South Korea currently allows gambling only in a few sanctioned casinos, of which only one is open to locals. But expansion is on the horizon.

Casino operator Genting Singapore is investing over $2 billion to develop a gambling resort. Legislation has been proposed to allow gaming on cruise ships docking on an island off the southern tip of the country.

In Taiwan gambling is legal only on offshore islands, and requires the consent via referendum of half the local population. So far, one island - Matsu - has approved a plan for gaming resorts, while another - Penghu - has rejected it.

Opponents of gambling highlight the adverse effects of a notoriously crime-ridden industry, and fear the development might pollute the environment and bring in an excessive amount of tourists.

But being just a few hours' flight from China is a significant economic incentive for many governments that look to replicate what happened in Macau.

The former Portuguese colony opened up gambling licensing in 2001 and has since recorded double-digit GDP growth. Last year, its annual gambling revenues were $45 billion, seven times that of Las Vegas.

Green, who heads the Macau-based New Page Consultancy, said despite being the world's gambling Mecca, the city state absorbs only a small fraction of gamblers from mainland China. “In terms of annual visitors it [Macau] is only getting around 30 million visitors, 30 millions is just less than ten percent of the population of the cities close by,” he added.

Macau covers less than 30 kilometers of land and borders with the rich Chinese Southern province of Guangdong. Over the years casino operators have built 35 gambling resorts, and more are under construction.

Authorities in Beijing, who control the island under the “one country, two systems” model, have signaled some uneasiness with Macau's reputation as a gambling only economy.

New regulations are compelling operators to diversify and offer more family-oriented entertainment.

Professor Cathy Hsu studies gaming development at the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

She said that despite the money spent on public relations campaigns to promote the history and culture of Macau, the city's reputation is unlikely to change soon.

“The main profit will still come from the gaming sector. When you look at Las Vegas today, yes they generate a lot of family business. But still, when you look at the bottom line it [revenue] is contributed mainly by gaming, Macau is on the extreme side of that. Destination image is difficult to change,” said Hsu.

Analysts also say it is unlikely that gambling expansion in neighboring countries will have a significant impact on Macau's gaming business.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs