Internet Gambling in Asia
By Chris Walkers
Asians love to gamble. I know that statement might initially sound like I'm perpetuating some sort of ignorant stereotype, but there's been plenty of research to back up the claim. For example, Asians make up 80% of the whales in Las Vegas casinos, and an LA Times article noted that people of Asian descent are 10 times more likely to gamble than any other ethnic group.
Chinese are perhaps the best example, as gambling is a popular and accepted form of diversion in their culture. Whether you're attending a Chinese party, wedding, or other social event, it's common to see a group seated in the corner playing Mahjong or some other game of chance.
This passion also extends to online gambling at a variety of top-rated online casinos, although some Asian nations are more welcoming of the pastime than others. In this article, we'll look at the most popular games of chance in Asian culture, as well as providing an overview of gambling in select parts of the continent.
Most Popular Forms of Gambling for Asians
While certain regional favorites may also be present, the following are consistently the most beloved forms of gambling among Asians:
This is easily the most popular game in the casinos of Macau, even though the odds are about as good as flipping a coin. I've talked to a number of Asians who played this game even as children, and their love for baccarat carries over into adulthood.
An important part of Asian culture, the original version differs from what most Americans find installed on their personal computers. A game is normally played by four people using 144 tiles, and some legends attribute its creation to Confucius in 500 BC.
While the odds of winning are often terrible, that doesn't stop people from flocking to this lottery-style game. Some legends say that construction of the Great Wall of China was partially funded by an early form of keno.
- Sic Bo:
Popular in Macau and the Philippines, this game challenges players to predict the outcome of three rolled dice.
- Pai Gow:
While Americans may be familiar with the offshoot known as Pai Gow Poker, this is the original version of the game. It's played with a set of 32 Chinese dominos and is extremely popular in Macau. As a testament to its staying power, the game has remained largely unaltered since its creation over 1,000 years ago.
Legal Status of Online Gambling in Asian Nations
The following is a brief overview of the legality of Internet gaming in various Asian countries. While most nations in the region seem to prohibit games of chance, that doesn't stop their citizenry from finding international sites to wager with.
Mainland China doesn't allow online gambling, and they've taken steps to outwit citizens by blocking many of the leading offshore gaming sites. In most cases, this just drives players to underground casinos or back-room games with friends.
Things work a bit differently in Macau and Hong Kong, as they are allowed to make their own laws apart from China. Macau seems particularly unconcerned with online gaming, which probably has something to do with the fact that it's now the top land-based gambling destination on the planet.
Online casinos and sports betting are popular within Japan, despite the fact that they're illegal under the laws of the nation. No Internet casinos are based within the country, although citizens have easy access to illegal offshore gaming sites. This is, after all, a culture that spends more than $250 billion per year on the game of pachinko.
While the Vietnamese people love gambling, their government does not. All forms of gambling besides the state lottery are outlawed, and even engaging in online gaming can result in stiff fines. This has resulted in a flourishing underground gambling scene, and there are plenty of offshore companies that are more than willing to accept their wagers.
Online casinos and poker are not allowed in South Korea, although sports betting is sometimes permitted. Residents who want to play virtual slots or blackjack can always access nearby Filipino casinos that support the Korean language.
The only form of online gambling that's legal in Singapore involves local non-profit sites. Not only has the country enacted numerous laws to prohibit gambling among its citizenry, but it's also went as far as blocking access to hundreds of international gaming and sports betting sites.
The Philippines has their act together when it comes to online gambling. It's legal for residents to engage in the practice, and the state either owns or oversees all accepted gaming sites. According to some reports, it's among the fastest growing iGaming sectors in terms of overall revenue.