December 8, 2011 : Asia will play a leading role, and should not ignore the possibilities of online gambling
PricewaterhouseCooper's latest study on the gambling industry underlines the growing revenue contributions to global growth represented by Asian operators, and has therefore been attracting wide mainstream media coverage in the region this week.
The study observed that Asian governments may be well-advised to license and regulate the online gambling industry instead of ignoring the growing number of online punters worldwide looking for internet action.
The depressing international economic crisis, straining public finances, made such an approach imperative, it suggested.
"With governments now facing severe fiscal constraints and eager to replenish their coffers, their attention has been caught by the potential of legalised and licensed online gaming services as a valuable source of tax revenues," the study noted.
"There is also a strong argument that, since consumers will engage in illegal online gaming anyway, it is better to license and tax it than to allow the revenues to go to unlicensed operators."
Singapore in particular has rapidly become one of the fastest growing casino gaming markets in the Asia-Pacific region, which is tipped to overtake the United States in 2013 to become the world's largest region for land casino gaming.
Gaming revenue in Asia-Pacific, the PwC report projected, will grow from US$ 34.3 billion last year to US$ 79.3 billion in 2015. It also estimated that revenues from the two integrated Singapore casino resorts will jump from US$ 4.4 billion this year to US$ 7.2 billion in 2015.
Online gambling is currently outlawed in Singapore, although Singapore Pools allows punters to place lottery or sports bets via telephone using pre-paid accounts.
"There is tremendous growth in online gaming, especially in poker", said gaming analyst and economist Jonathan Galaviz, who feels that Asian governments should focus on such growth opportunities.
He suggested that it was time for governments in the region to research the possibilities in order to be sufficiently well-informed to make the right calls in a promising market.