Macau, the gambling capital of Asia, recently announced the suspension of any new casino licenses and land allocations for casino developments. This decision, along with the removal of the most popular lottery games from video lottery terminals in January 2008 and a ban on all online lottery sales, indicates that the Chinese authorities are uneasy about Macau's reliance on gambling as a source of revenue and the social impact of any form of gambling that proves popular.
Meanwhile, the Taiwanese President is pushing for the legalization of offshore land-based casinos in Penghu Island. Two multi-billion dollar integrated resorts are due to commence operation at the end of this decade in Singapore and local politicians on nearby Bintan Island are hoping to bypass national laws and build Indonesia's first foreigners-only casino. Cambodia and Laos are moving ahead with their casino operation expansion, Vietnam has approved several new resort developments and the Thai Prime Minister recently proposed that casinos should be legalized in Thailand.
Clearly the region is poised for an expansion of gambling activities. At present, only three countries outside of Australia have a gambling regulatory authority - Philippines, Singapore and Macau - but as emerging jurisdictions start to regulate gambling and implement their own standards, regulators in other parts of the world should be vigilant of their licensees' activities overseas and operators needs to be aware of local restrictions and controls.
Asia's first ever Asian Gambling Briefing (AGB) follows the success of its European counterpart, the European Gambling Briefing (EGB). The two-day conference will examine current legislation and future directions for gaming regulation, highlight key compliance areas and clarify where the best opportunities lie in the region.