Eye on Asia - December

4 December 2006

Growth Predicted for China's Gambling Market

The Chinese gambling industry exhibits potential for significant growth, reported Sinocast China Business Daily News reported Tuesday. Wang Xuehong, executive director of the China Center for Lottery Studies at Peking University (CCLS), said the industry's market size may be capable of swelling to as much as $63 billion. Wang also speculated that China's gaming industry will comprise between 2 percent and 3 percent of the country's GDP. In a separate study by the CCLS, Chinese gamblers were shown to invest an estimated $76 billion annually in overseas lotteries, roughly 10 times the sum already invested in the domestic public welfare lottery.

Malware is not Goodware

Forty-five percent of all malware originating from China last month was designed to co-opt usernames and passwords of online gamers, SC Magazine reported Nov. 22. Malware is software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner's informed consent. "Given the ever-growing popularity of online gaming in China, this is a worrying trend," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. "Once hackers have stolen login details, they can effectively impersonate the victim in the online world."

Thai Police Bust Illegal E-Casino Operation in Bangkok

Thai police on Nov. 22 raided an online casino operation within sight of the Crime Suppression Division of the Royal Thai Police, reported Bangkok Post. Sixteen were arrested, including the operation's international staff, who hailed from Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. "This is the first time we've raided this kind of high-tech gambling den," said the Metropolitan Police (MP) commissioner, Lt. Gen. Viroj Janthalangsri. Acting on a tip, the MP raided the illegal gambling establishment, interrupting an online baccarat game being filmed by Web cams so international players could participate via the Internet. Gambling is illegal in Thailand but "remains widespread thanks to police complicity," the paper said.

Betfair Sells out APT

Betfair Poker announced Nov. 22 that it has sold out the Main Event of its inaugural Asian Poker Tour festival in Singapore. Over 370 players each paid the $5,000 buy-in for the three-day Main Event, which took place Nov. 15-17. Though exact figures were not released, "many" players reportedly qualified through Betfair Poker online. Entrants hailed from 32 countries, and competed alongside a sizable pool of local players. The tournament winner, Tony Guoga, took in $451,200 and donated half of his winnings to local charities.

PGIC Enters Macau

Casino game technology provider Progressive Gaming International Corporation (PGIC) announced Nov. 16 that it had received approval for its Progressive Baccarat table game in Macau. "Baccarat is the most dominant game in the Asian markets," said Neil Crossan, PGIC executive vice president.

Macau Tops Vegas

The Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) is expected to earn in excess of $6.58 billion from its gambling industry in 2006, Yogonet.com reported on Nov. 8. The 2006 SAR earnings projection will reportedly push Macau ahead of Las Vegas, with the region to become the world's largest casino center, The industry has grown rapidly since the country struck its gambling monopoly in 2002. According to a report released by SAR officials, 18.7 million people visited Macau's casinos in the last year, with 20 million expected in 2007.

Betting in Vietnam

Bets on foreign soccer matches may become legal in Vietnam beginning in 2007. Local newspapers on Oct. 31 quoted the nation's sports minister as saying that the National Sports Committee is seeking government approval to establish a joint venture with a foreign bookmaker to provide betting services on international soccer games. The country currently prohibits all forms of gambling.