Eye on Asia - January

4 January 2007

I-Gaming Bust in Philippines

National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents raided an online casino fronting as an Internet café in Manila, Philippines, reported news source INQ7 on Dec. 20. NBI agents executed a search warrant on Fast Ball Internet Café and seized 23 computer units, which allegedly powered the operation, after Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) officials confirmed the operation was not licensed--or otherwise authorized--to offer gambling and gaming services. The operation was undertaken a week after agents of the NBI Anti-Fraud and Computer Crime Division (AFCCD) raided an alleged gambling operation disguised as an amusement center in Tomas Morato, Quezon City, and seized 71 slot machines worth an estimated $425,000. The NBI reported that both the Manila and Tomas Morato operations were under Korean ownership. Special Investigator Joel Jovenir of the NBI AFCCD said the increasing number of Korean-owned gambling operations "may have something to do with their refusal to pay business taxes in the country." Four Korean suspects with alleged ties to the Fast Ball operation were "invited for questioning," Jovenir said. "But we have yet to identify the actual owners and operators of Fast Ball," he added.

Playtech Lands Licensing Agreement with Sino Strategic

I-gaming provider Playtech on Dec. 20 announced a five-year licensing agreement with leading China-based gaming group Sino Strategic International.

PacNet Acquires Majority Share of PacGames

Asia-facing e-biz solutions provider PacificNet announced on Dec. 19 that it had acquired an additional 6 percent interest in PacificNet Games Ltd. (PacGames). The company, now a 51 percent shareholder of PacGames, said the investment in PacGames would enhance its entry into the new high-margin gaming technology business.

China Mulls Censorship of Gaming Industry Content

The AP on Dec. 12 reported that China was tightening controls on the online game industry. Certain games were found to include forbidden religious and/or political material, and distributors are consequently being required to submit monthly monitoring reports confirming that operators have not added forbidden content. The Xinhua News Agency specifically cited problems with violence and pornography.

Growth Predicted for Asia's Mobile Entertainment Market

A recent report by business intelligence provider Juniper Research estimated on Dec. 7 that the global mobile entertainment market is worth $17.3 billion and will rise to $76.9 billion by 2011. Despite the recent I-gaming ban in the United States, mobile gambling is expected to grow significantly in Asia and Europe, the report stated. Currently North America makes up only 14 percent ($2.4 billion) of the total global market for mobile entertainment content. Asia-Pacific is the dominant region worldwide for mobile content (41 percent), followed by Europe (39 percent). Still, Juniper predicts that North America will begin to take an increasing global share of revenues--19 percent by 2011.