As you may be aware, online gambling is not necessarily legal and above board in Asia. Even so, millions of Asians regularly gamble online. How do they accomplish this feat? Fortunately, the world of offshore online casinos opens doors to Asian players who wish to bet online.
Asia is a vast continent with many countries. Many of those countries have somewhat different views on online gambling, so it would be impossible to look at online casino gaming in Asia as a whole. We need to break down the continent into regions, specifically those countries which are known to have populations who love to play at online casinos. This is precisely what we have chosen to do, to help us get a better look and understanding of online casino gambling in Asia. Let’s start with the biggest country in Asia, and also one of the strictest when it comes to casino gambling online – China.
Online Casinos in Asia
Online Casino China
China doesn’t endorse online casino games. While they do permit sports betting and lottery games – primarily through a state monopoly, the Chinese Sports Monopoly – online casino players will have no such luck. Instead, online casino players in China are going to have to look offshore to find places to play their favourite casino games, and even then, it is risky.
The Chinese gambling authorities are known to track down any operators who provide casino gaming to Chinese citizens. There are hefty fines and punishments in place for any transgressors, and China is not opposed to punishing civilians who gamble online at casinos, either.
Despite the penalties, many offshore casinos do still offer online casino games to Chinese players. In many cases, players can also use the CNY as a currency option. However, only the bravest operators do this, and many of those are unlicensed. This tends to mean that the casinos aren’t the most trustworthy sites around. Owing to a lack of other casinos prepared to take the risk to offer them casino games, though, many Chinese players are ready to play at such casinos.
Known casinos to accept Chinese players include Bodog, Dafabet, 188bet and 138.com. They will accept Chinese debit card transactions, and permit players to play in Chinese and with the Chinese Renminbi currency in place.
The future of online casino gaming in China does not look likely to change. While many Chinese players may flock to Macau to enjoy gambling in land-based casinos (and the Chinese aren’t happy about that either), the online casino gaming laws of the country look to be as rigid as ever. China doesn’t need the revenue that regulating and legalising gambling would bring, so they have no reason to change a thing.
Online Casino Thailand
In contrast to China, Thailand does have some regulation, although this patchwork of laws makes it a very messy country for players to know their rights when it comes to gambling at online casinos. Considering that Thai people love to gamble, this poses something of a legal minefield. Officially, only horse racing and the national lottery are legal in the country. However, Thailand advocates its citizens to play at Cambodian, Burmese or Laos online casinos. They can do this online from Thailand, although they must pick up any winnings they land in person in Cambodia.
Thailand does not crack down on its citizens playing at online casinos at offshore sites, as you may have gathered from above. Thai players are well-known to play at offshore casinos which include those in the United Kingdom. While UK casinos are ideal for Thai players (on account of them offering gaming in English and they are trusted) they aren’t legal, so Thai players are still breaking the law when they do so.
As well as UK casinos, Thai players can also access any number of leading online casinos with a VPN (virtual private network), safe in the knowledge that Thai authorities are only interested in clamping down on operators, not their citizens.
Dafabet, 138.com, 188bet.com and Bodog88.com are all known to accept players from Thailand. They permit players to use the Thai Baht currency, and many even feature Hi Lo, a popular game favoured by many Thai players. It is more commonly thought of as a rapid-fire, mini version of Sic-Bo/Tai-Sai. Of course, if you don’t mind playing in English and without the Thai Baht currency, then virtually any online casino you come across may be open to accepting Thai players. This gives you a far wider range of casinos to choose from than other Asian players.
The future of online casino gaming in Thailand is up for debate. There are neither moves to get tougher on offshore sites, nor laws to regulate and legalise online casino gaming in the pipeline. Thai players have it relatively good right now, so the status quo isn’t likely to change at any point in the immediately future.
Online Casino Vietnam
Vietnam prohibits its citizens from playing at online casinos, and even gambling in general, for that matter. The only time the strict rules are relaxed is when it comes to national lotteries. Vietnam, like China, takes a very hardline approach to its citizens when they are caught gambling at online casinos. Punishments include a sentence of up to two years in prison, and if money laundering is involved, much longer. Fines are also deemed suitable punishment for first-time offenders.
Vietnam also looks outward when it comes to cracking down on online casino gambling. They prohibit Vietnamese players from entering land-based casinos in Cambodia, and they regularly crack down on ISP (internet service provider) access to offshore casinos. Even with a VPN, Vietnamese players can find it challenging to find a safe and secure online casino which is prepared to offer them legitimate resources to play casino games online.
This only really leaves dodgy, rogue and blacklisted casinos. There are plenty of these which offer their services to Vietnamese players, and many fall into this trap. Despite many Asian casinos, such as Bodog88.com offering their services to players in Asian countries, very few will dare offer their services to players in Vietnam. The level the government has cracked down and forced internet service providers to play ball is so high that very few options are available. Using a VPN and registering out of another country is likely the best way to play at an online casino if you are based in Vietnam.
There may potentially be good news around the corner, though. There has been a general softening of attitudes in the Vietnamese Government of late towards online gambling, and it is not inconceivable that in the future, gambling could be legalised and regulated in the country. Until then, Vietnam Is not a country you really want to gamble in.
Online Casino Japan
Lastly, this brings us to Japan. On the face of it, gambling in Japan is forbidden, and online gambling is certainly not permitted. That is unless you play the state lottery, a handful of state-approved sports bets, or horse racing. The upside of this seemingly strict law is that Japan is very conscientious of not violating its citizens’ rights to privacy. As such, they do not attempt to block their citizens from visiting offshore casinos sites.
Many of the major sportsbooks and online casinos in the world accept players based in Japan. Some even offer Japanese language and currency options. A few have even gone as far as being Japanese only, and specialising in providing their services to Japanese players.
Just like in Vietnam, there may be a silver lining for the future when it comes to online casino gambling in the country. Japan will have a severe shortage of revenue for its ever-growing and ageing population in the future. Many in the government have talked about legalising and regulating an online gambling industry (as well as a land-based one) to try and supplement the state’s income. There can be little doubt that doing so would Japan become the centre for gambling across Asia. Should licenses be issued for online casinos as well, there is every possibility that the Japanese Government won’t just explore this option, but also implement it.
As for casinos which are known to offer their services to Japanese players, Royal Vegas, Platinum Play and 138.com are all known for doing so. They can provide Japanese language gameplay and the JPY currency option. Players will also note that Japanese-friendly payment methods and Pachinko games can also be found at these sites. CasiTabi is one of the leading Japanese casinos around. Launched in 2015, this anime/manga-themed casino is only playable in Japanese, and is arguably the most famous online casino in the country, even if it is based offshore, away from the Japanese authorities.
Best of the Rest
No look at online casino gaming in Asia would be complete without a quick look at how a few other countries see the situation. South Korea, for instance, has a monopoly in effect for sports books, and although online casino gaming is illegal, they don’t punish players who do it. They are also open to regulating online casino gaming in the future.
India restricts online casino players by having ISPs block access to foreign websites, but there are no laws in place against players from gambling at online casinos if they find a way around such blocks, such as with a VPN.
The Philippines issues licenses to casino operators (PAGCOR) and this brings billions of dollars of revenue to the country. Filipinos are free to play at any casino which features a PAGCOR license, and although their radical president has promised to shut down online casino gaming entirely, he has since clarified that he meant only non-PAGCOR online casinos. Even so, no changes have thus far taken place, meaning that players in the Philippines are as free to play at any online casino as any player is likely to be in Asia at this moment in time.
So, In Conclusion – Can I Gamble in Asia?
After looking at some of the gambling laws present in the Asian countries listed above, we have come to the same conclusion that we mentioned earlier. Asia is a very tricky continent to play online casino games in. Most countries prohibit online casino gameplay, but how far they go in implementing that varies from nation to nation. Some countries slap your wrists, others ignore you completely, leaving you free to do as you will, and some; well, let’s just say that you wouldn’t want to be caught playing at an online casino in those countries. Always do your homework before you decide to gamble when residing in Asia.