Archive for the ‘Gambling’ Category

Why in Asia is lotto gambling legal but online gambling illegal?

If you were asked to name a place synonymous with gambling, what would you say? If your answer was ‘Las Vegas’, you might be surprised to hear that the infamous American gambling town is now being far outstripped in earnings by one region in China: Macau. With a gambling industry making more than $50 billion a year from its various casinos and casino hotels, Macau is now the biggest online casino gambling centre in the world. And that’s just on land! Companies such as M88 Indonesia and bodog are taking the online market by storm (even though its illegal in most countries in SE Asia.)

It is even stranger to learn then that all forms of gambling, including online gambling, in China and largely Asia as a whole are completely illegal. On a continent where gambling is one of the most ancient traditions, Macau resides as one of the only places where gambling, for locals at least, is legal.

But there is one small anomaly that appears to be sneaking under the radar of government law and that’s Asian lotteries. In countries where online gambling businesses are being raided, computers confiscated and perpetrators arrested, government-sanctioned lotteries go on on a daily basis, some even overtaking Western lotteries to become the largest in the world.

The China Welfare Lottery is thought to be the second most profitable lottery worldwide, making more than $10 billion dollars in sales in 2009. The Dream Jumbo Draw in Japan is also thought to be one of the world’s biggest. Shanghai has the Fencai Lottery, Singapore has the Singapore Sweep and most if not all of Hong Kong’s residents play the Mark Six lotto on a weekly basis.

So why are these lotteries sanctioned and run by governments while other forms of gambling in Asia are so harshly cracked down upon?

Perhaps the optimum word in the question is ‘governments’. Most of the lotteries mentioned above are government-led, making millions for the leaders of each individual country. While online gambling is near impossible to regulate and the casino industry is often dominated by foreign investors, lotteries are one form of gambling that governments are able to utilise for their own profits or for the good of the country, almost as a form of enjoyable taxation.

As the popularity of gambling in Asia grows, the legalisation of casinos and other forms of gambling is also being considered by many governments who wish to profit from the same tourism and revenue that they see being made by other Asian resorts such as Macau. With even the strictest anti-gambling laws now being called into question, the seemingly harmless and popular lotteries look safer than ever.