Where to Open an Online Casino in Asia
Asia is home to more than half (60%) of the world’s population. Coupled with its fast digital technologies and developed economies, it is one of the most targeted areas for international gambling operators.
However, gambling is strictly regulated on the continent while conservative governments don’t make it a convenient place for prospective operators.
If you are contemplating opening an online casino on this continent, don’t be deterred by governments’ strict regulations and seemingly cold attitude towards gambling generally. While the region doesn’t seem to be the right place to start an online gambling business, some countries are ditching their old stance and are regulating the sector to pave the way for more investors to tap into their economies.
Hence, while drawing your business plan, target countries where governments are gradually having a positive attitude towards gambling and are opening their doors to more investors. In those countries, you have reasonable chances of opening an online casino with ease.
Let’s consider some of the countries where you have better chances of floating a successful online casino business in Asia without breaching the local laws which may attract a very stiff penalty:
Gambling is illegal in China, except for two State-run lotteries: Sports Lottery and Welfare Lottery. Even so, Chinese people are allowed to gamble in Hong Kong and Macau, two of the People’s Republic’s administrative regions.
With strict regulations that restrict gambling to the barest minimum in the country, the government’s anti-gambling stance has been leveraged by their neighbors who often direct their land-based casinos’ promos and services toward Chinese tourists.
If Asia is your target, China won’t be a great place to consider opening an online casino. You’ll be better off with other countries with less strict regulations.
The Philippines government takes online gambling seriously and regulates it through the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
CEZA’s operation is limited to issuing licenses to online gambling operators that offer their services outside the country while PAGCOR is tasked with offering licensing services to betting shops, bingo houses, land-based casinos, and bingo houses.
It’s noteworthy that none of the country’s legislation forbids offering online casino services to citizens. As a foreign operator, you’re required to have a local agent or partner to represent you in the country.
Foreign investors in the country’s casino industry must have a minimum of $300,000 authorized capital stock and $60,000 paid-up capital stock to operate in the Philippines.
The Philippines is a good option if you meet the requirements. You’re unlikely to meet stiff restrictions from the government.
The Japanese government has prohibited gambling in the country for years. However, locals are permitted to play online games in special places such as publicly administered lotteries and betting as well as pachinko houses.
According to Japanese laws, gambling is a punishable offence until 2018 when the government changed its perspectives about gambling, recognizing it as an integrated resort, and leading to casinos legalization.
The primary target is tourists, although locals are permitted to use such gambling platforms. Nevertheless, as a preventive measure against gambling addiction, locals are allowed to gamble three times a week or a maximum of 10 times monthly. They are also mandated to pay an equivalent of $50 or 46€ entrance fee.
Some stakeholders are optimistic that the new legislation will give gambling more exposure in the country and that may lead to the industry’s regulation in the future.
Vietnam closed its doors to online gambling for decades. Since 2018, however, the government has relaxed its laws and allows investors to meet the citizen’s growing needs for gambling platforms.
Legislations have been made to accommodate horse racing, football betting, and greyhound racing. Casinos have also been opened for foreign passport holders too.
The Singaporean government limited gambling in the country to publicly owned operators, the Singapore Turf Club where citizens can engage in sports betting and horse racing and Singapore Pools for all types of lottery-type games.
The government frowned at private casinos until 2005 when it adopted a more accommodating approach towards online gambling. The government relaxed its restrictions and permitted casinos to operate in some approved resorts to discourage the citizens from addiction to gambling.
Nevertheless, the Singaporean government still prohibits online gambling except for the Singaporean Sports Council, the National Heritage Board, the Singapore Pools, and the Singapore Turf Club.
The government recommended a very stiff monetary fine for black market players and operators to sanitize the industry. Operators may also face up to 7 years of jail term if they break that rule. In 2021, the Ministry of Home Affairs established a Gambling Regulatory Authority primarily to enforce penalties on operators and players breaking that rule.
Although Honk Kong considers gambling a legal activity, the industry is strictly regulated. The Honk Kong Jockey Club enjoys the monopoly of all betting forms. Only dedicated cruise ships are allowed to run casino gaming activities when they are outside the country’s borders.
With online casinos considered illegal in this country, market operators are in for a hard time if they are caught flouting the law. Hence, although the government doesn’t support operating any form of gambling business, it, however, has fewer clear gambling laws for gamblers.
Hong Kong’s online gambling legislation focuses primarily on sports betting. The country’s Gambling Ordinance states that whoever places a bet has committed an offence, irrespective of whether the bet is received outside or inside Hong Kong.
The country has specific exemption clauses that regulate and legalize all new gambling forms. Anything considered illegal under those exemptions is automatically considered illegal and operators should beware of them.
Macau isn’t dubbed “the Las Vegas of Asia” for nothing. Boasting millions of tourists, 42 casinos, and attractive neon lights, its nickname is rightly justified.
Unlike most gambling establishments that are targeted at random gamblers, Macanese gambling establishments target high-stakes professional gamblers, making it one of the most attractive gambling destinations for prospective online gambling operators.
According to a report, more than two-thirds (66%) of casino-generated income in 2013 was from high-stake gamblers.
To put the casino-generated income in perspective, Reuters reported in 2019 that the country generated over $3 billion from gambling in the first five months of the year. Some observers considered the amount relatively low in comparison with previous years.
For a country whose gambling scene is put at four times that of Las Vegas, it justifies its rating as the world’s gambling capital. Investors may consider this relatively unknown but fertile gambling land.
Note, though, that gambling is restricted to the mainland and forbidden on the island. Since 2015, the local regulatory bodies have been warning operators about the penalty of breaking the established gambling regulation in the country.
You may strike gold with India. One of the top two largest countries in the world, only brick-and-mortar casinos are regulated in some parts of the country such as Sikkim, Goa, Diu, and Dama.
For years, local governments approved gambling services in Goa through boat venues, although operators must obtain prior approval before setting up their businesses in that region. However, operators are free to promote horse racing and land-based sports that aren’t regulated in the region.
The federal government doesn’t regulate online gambling in India and the states aren’t too keen on its legality or otherwise. Up to 2021, only two states, Nagaland and Sikkim, regulated gambling operations by offering operational licenses to sportsbooks and casino operators.
Two other states, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, banned gambling outright within their domains. The federal government has been silent about online gambling in the country with no government-backed regulations in place.
In 2018, though, the country’s Law Commission recommended that the country should embark on a country-wide betting and gambling legalization. It is yet to be seen whether the federal government will consider that option or not.
South Korea is one of the countries you should steer clear of if you’re targeting local consumers. The government has outright banned gambling as a part of its stringent regulations to control gambling in the country.
Although land-based casinos are allowed, they are strictly for foreign nationals, except on Kangwon Land.
South Korea has one of the most unambiguous legal frameworks for gambling regulations. Each operator needs an expressed permission to operate in the country. Otherwise, their operations are considered illegal. Besides mortar and brick casinos, horse racing, lottery, and bullfighting are other gambling forms allowed in the country.
For decades, Malaysia had a strong stand against gambling. Through its Common Gaming Houses Act 1953 (CGHA), Sharia Law, and the Betting Act 1953, the government outlawed online gambling throughout the country.
The Betting Act recommends a stiff penalty for Malaysians caught gambling. They run the risk of paying up to RM200, 000 in fines and a five-year jail term. Two years ago, the penalty for gambling operators and illegal gambling increased by 20-fold to RM100, 000 from RM5,000 and a jail term of up to six months to discourage possible gambling addiction.
Recently, though, the government is fully aware of the huge amount of money it leaves on the table through its gambling prohibition act. The country’s Communications and Multimedia Ministry estimated that over RM2bn is lost to their ban on online gambling taxes annually.
In an interview, Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin, the country’s Deputy Minister, explained that the government is considering updating its gambling laws to give more room for operators. They explained further that the government may allow regulation of some games involving gift offers and betting.
Tapping into the new gambling environment may be a good decision if Asia is your target audience.
Helpful Tips to Run a Successful Online Casino in Asia
As highlighted above, running an online casino in Asia can be tricky and fraught with many risks. However, after doing your due diligence and choosing a market that is more open to gambling, how do you turn your investment into a success?
Here are a couple of helpful tips that can help you run a successful gambling business in Asia:
Study the Market
Investing in the Asia gambling market blindly is an invitation to failure. If you don’t understand the terrain, your investment may go down the drain in no time.
Conduct a feasibility study of the market and understand where you have better success chances and target those areas.
Obtain Necessary Licenses and Permission
Running an illegal online gambling platform in Asia attracts a heavy penalty, including a lengthy jail term. You’re better off investing your money in obtaining necessary permissions and licenses than taking a risk without these backups.
Approach regulatory bodies through their official websites and ask for the requirements. Make sure you meet all of them before launching your business.
Offer Amazing Content
The casino market in Asia is huge. You’ll be swallowed by your competitors if you stick to a handful of games or ones with little to nothing to offer.
To succeed in the business, go out of your way to get the best gaming content for your audience.
Patronize some of the best online casino software providers such as Microgaming, NetEnt, IGT, Asia Gaming, Evolution, and others and get amazing games with attractive offers and rewards to take over the market.
The Future of the Asian Gambling Market
Asia is potentially a great gambling market. It has the population and technology to rule the online casino industry. However, due to stiff regulations and other challenges, many prospective investors in the continent’s gambling industry may be tempted to write the continent of. That may be a great mistake.
With an increasing number of governments becoming more pro-gambling, Asia is a promising continent for the gambling industry. If you adopt the right approach and stay on the side of the law when opening a gambling platform in Asia, it may be one of your best investment decisions ever.
The first step towards starting an online casino which operates with real money is obtaining an online casino license. The products that we sell might require a casino/gambling license depending on the jurisdiction in which...