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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs