Online Casinos Tap Asian Markets

Published on: August 19, 2011 

Asia is showing the greatest growth in gambling. The fact that Macau turnover has outstripped Las Vegas is sufficient evidence. The same growth can be sensed in the South East Asian online gambling markets, consisting mainly of Korea, China and Japan. This is the situation despite the legal issues in some of the countries. Online casinos and software providers have begun to make overtures to capture a share of this market. Depending on long term objectives and perceptions the effort to make an entry in this market varies from the subtle to the dedicated.

There are online gaming software providers that want to focus on players in Europe and the USA. They will not commit major resources for creating a hold in the Asian market. But they do not completely neglect this market. Many of them develop slot games based on Asian themes that will have special meaning to Asian players. The advantage of this is that they also target players of Asian origin settled in the west. An example from the software provider Realtime Gaming is appropriate here. It has launched a slot game Happy Golden Ox of Happiness based n the Chinese New Year. The number ‘8’ is considered lucky by the Chinese. Therefore this slot game, in addition to Chinese symbols, has payouts like 8,888 and 888.

Playtech is a software provider that is making greater efforts in the Asian online gambling market. It has created a special category of games titled Asian Games. Almost all software providers include games of Asian origin like Pai Gow Poker and Sic Bo. The Asian Games category of Playtech is something more than that. Mahjong is a popular Asian game played with tiles. Playtech has developed a number of fixed odds games based on Mahjong. Asian player familiar with Mahjong would enjoy these games more. Pachinko is a pinball type arcade game very popular in Japan. Legally players cannot gamble at these arcades. Playtech has developed a Pachinko based game. Asian online players can wager on this game.

Probably the main difficulty that Asian players generally face at online casinos is the currency and the language. For every deposit they have to convert their local currency to euros or dollars and again convert the withdrawals to their local currency. This double exchange in itself causes a loss of more than a few percentage points. Software developers like Playtech offer wagering in Asian currencies. Asian players not very familiar with English are uncomfortable with communications in English. Therefore the software and customer support is offered in Asian languages. Online casino operators who are interested in tapping the Asian market can license these facilities from software providers.

The final step in this progression is to have online casinos dedicated to the Asian market. Such online casinos are operated locally and are licensed in Asian jurisdictions like the Philippines. Bodog is a popular brand that has franchised its name to an Asian online casino operating as Bodog88. The franchise holder is Haydock Sports, which has been operating from the Philippines since 2006 and is well aware of the Asian online gambling characteristics. The biggest dampener in the Asian online gambling market is the distrust of the RNG simulated casino games. While steps are being taken to overcome this Bodog88 is in the process of creating a world class live dealer casino, which works better with Asian players.

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