Asian Gamblers: Problems of Our OwnWhile the West struggles with the online casinos shutdown and the PayPal withdrawal, Asian gamblers have a much more difficult fight to face. In Asia, regulators are not only going after the payment solutions in attempt to control online gambling, they are actually blocking gambling at the ISP level. China and South Korea are the two governments most opposed to online wagering, and whilst they represent only a small fraction of the existing real-money gambling market, they have a massive untapped potential and huge online gambling acceptance.
Despite ISP bans, both Chinese and South Koreans gamblers are eager to tap into the power of the internet to bet Western sports and play Eastern games. Odds for western games online are almost always better than the odds from the local small boat bookies, and the range of games online are growing to meet additional demand from Asia daily. There are a few online Majong games and forums, and Pai Gow and Sic Bo are routinely found at larger net casinos. But despite the public demand, players are still having to either leave the country to get in an online game, or circumvent the ISPs. In fact, South Korea is one of the world’s leaders in online gambling penetration with 63% of its net users having been to an online casino.
But despite problems with ISPs blocking casino access, the Asian market still attracts considerable attention from western casino operators. The unmissible Casino on Net (www.888.com) is a prime example of a Western casino outfit catering to the Asian player. Their language translation in Chinese, Japanese and Korean and their URL promoted as www.888.com is pure testimony to the potential of Asia.
One of the problems facing the casinos of the West in entering the Asian market, is their insistent use of Western payment mechanisms. For gambling to thrive in our culture, online casinos need to do more than just translate the site into Chinese and add targeted games. Asian gambling revolves around a cash culture, and until cash can be easily deposited into the online casino made readily available to winners, the Asian market cannot be fully excavated.
New European payment solutions, not yet made available in the East may bring the solutions to these problems. Getting money into the casino must be done discretely, and must be cash based. A system available in nine European countries called EcoCard holds promise in the Asian market. Gamblers can convert cash into virtual money at a traditional bank through the bank teller window. Players do not need to have a bank account at the participating bank to deposit funds, and the transaction is as anonymous as cash purchases. Anonymity has become an important factor in online casino gaming across several Asian countries that have yet to develop a clear stance on the legality and illegality of online gambling.
Two additional products, Pay Spark and Pay 2, allows gamblers in Europe and North America to the network of 600,000 worldwide ATM machines to take winnings directly from casino accounts through the ATMs. ATM transaction elevate the “red tape” and embarrassment that arises when cashing a large check sent from the casino to the gambler. When you ask the ATM machine for your winnings, you don’t need to explain where it came from, and you don’t expose your fortune to the bank teller.
While the West solves its payment problems, it slowly uncovers the kernels that will become the solutions for bringing the Asian gambling culture into harmony with the online environment. ISP bans aside, the casino that fully adapts to Asian culture will be the real winner in the online casino game.