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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid