Over the last decade, Asia has quickly become the world’s gambling hub. Although players in Europe and North America might feel somewhat disconnected to the Asian gaming market (since it’s an entity that virtually stands on its own), the numbers seem to suggest Asia’s casino market is booming.
Indeed, thanks to resorts such as Macau, millions of Asian blackjack, roulette, poker and slots fans have been able to experience some of the finest live gambling experiences in the world right on their doorstep. Of course, Las Vegas may still be the “gambling capital of the world” in many people’s eyes, but the reality is that destinations such as Macau now dwarf Sin City in terms of annual revenue.
Moreover, thanks to this boom in live gaming, many of Asia’s iGaming nations, such as Japan and Singapore, have also begun to thrive. Indeed, when you navigate to http://www.32red.com/jp/ in your web browser and check out 32Red’s Japanese platform, you’ll see that it’s every bit as well stocked as the operator’s European platform. Similarly, online poker sites such as PokerStars now have thousands of active players logging into the system from Singapore on a daily basis.
It’s this combination of offline and online growth that’s allowed Asia’s gaming hubs to become global leaders. In fact, according to the latest figures, annual casino revenue for Vegas in 2014 was $11 billion, while Macau managed to rake in $44 billion. Although Macau has suffered a slight dip in fortune over the last 12 months, the Asian gaming capital is still very much a thriving enterprise that’s worth billions and it’s this fact that’s made Asia such a strong player in the global casino economy.
Despite being the boom region for gaming, there is still room for the Asian market to grow and the next significant round of growth could come courtesy of Japan. Another economically strong Asian country, Japan has long debated the issue of legal casinos within its borders. As it stands there is an embargo on brick and mortar venues within Japan, but over the last two years the country’s political forces have been discussing the issue.
Although the talks have often reached a stalemate, the overriding feeling each time is that regulation is inevitable. Having seen the success Macau has enjoyed in recent years, there’s no doubt Japan will want to join the action and its Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, could be the man to make it happen.
After recently appointing a new cabinet, political insiders are now suggesting that long-time casino advocates, Koichi Hagiuda and Masahiko Shibayama, will now move into power positions within the government. Hagiuda is likely to become deputy chief secretary, while Shibayama will become an assistant to the premier, both positions will give the pair a significant say in major political decisions going forward.
Although the legislative process is bound to take some time, it’s believed that Japan’s first casinos will open their doors in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Naturally, in the interim, the country’s residents can satisfy their appetite for casino games such as roulette, baccarat, craps and blackjack by going online. As stated, platforms such as 32Red Japan are currently thriving within the country and offer the same high quality gaming experience European punters would expect.
In fact, it’s this love of online gaming that’s pushing Japanese lawmakers to consider the regulation of live venues. Of course, Macau’s recent success is one of the biggest reasons Japan wants to join the party. However, according to the latest stats, iGaming in Asia is worth $80 million per year and with 128 million residents, Japan contributes a significant amount to that total.
It’s clear that Asia is already the hotspot for the world’s leading casino operators, but if Japan can finally agree upon a regulatory framework for its live casino industry, then it could become an even bigger player in the market. Macau will likely dominate in terms of revenue over the next five years. However, once Japan’s bricks and mortar market goes live and joins forces with its thriving online industry, there’s every chance Asia could have a new casino king.
However, regardless of how or where the chips fall in Asia, it’s clear the market is still booming and will continue to do so for many years to come.