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Asia is the world’s largest continent, both in terms of land area and population. Over 4 billion people live here, which comprises about 60% of the world’s population, so we’re taking big indeed here in terms of the potential poker market at least.
Poker isn’t historically been ingrained in the culture of Asia as it has been in the culture of some other continents, but due to the increased exposure and popularity of the game in recent years, especially in the so called information age and the internet in particular, it’s a game that is really starting to catch on.
The market penetration for poker is still on the lower side though, comparatively speaking, but Asia is so big that even a fairly low degree of popularity can be exciting, not to mention the potential as the game grows even more here.
So a big part of the challenge of growing poker in Asia comes down to providing it with better exposure generally, and it’s not enough to simply be aware of the game, as a certain level of desire needs to be created to get more people to play poker and become more familiar with it on a personal level.
The poker tours that have emerged here recently, especially the major ones such as the Asian Poker Tour and the Asian Pacific Poker Tour have helped this, in addition to having quite a few successful world class pros come out of Asia or at least be of Asian descent. This tends to be quits successful in promoting the game and Asia is no exception.
Individual Country Laws in Asia
Asia Is Certainly A Growing Market For Poker
So poker in Asia as a whole can be described as emerging, but gambling here in general has gotten way bigger as of late, and while most of this growth is on the casino end of things, as well as the talk of more countries operating casinos, poker has evolved along with it, and it’s not the new casinos that are impacting things as much as it is changing attitudes towards gambling in general, which of course includes poker.
The laws here and the tolerance toward gambling have historically been on the very conservative side, but this front is where the biggest changes are occurring, as the money that gambling brings in is starting to tempt these countries more and more, and there’s some pretty big ones involved as well, such as China and India, the world’s two biggest countries by far, with each having over a billion people.
The movement toward gambling isn’t just limited to these countries, and other countries want to get in on this bonanza as well, with some now getting closer. Asia does also have a lot of ultra conservative countries though which still are quite resistant to gambling and poker, especially the Islamic countries, and while gambling and poker is growing in these areas as well, it will likely take quite a bit more time for the laws to become more permissive, especially when this conflicts with religious beliefs in countries where religious beliefs play a very prominent role in politics and legislation.
At best though, right now anyway, Asia is well behind the more progressive continent of Europe, who is really leading the way in gambling and poker and in online gambling in particular, where gambling is generally legal, and a lot of countries now have licensed online gambling and online poker to go along with their licensed land based gambling and poker.
So while attitudes toward gambling and poker have certainly improved over the last few years, there is still a ways to go, and the progress here may continue to be anywhere from fairly slow to very much so, depending on the country, but overall we should see things continue to move along in the years to come.
Asians Definitely Like To Gamble
With the more limited legal options available in Asia generally, people tend to turn to illegal gambling a lot more, as people like to gamble regardless, and Asian people are no exception. Even in the most conservative countries, such as Saudi Arabia, there are still quite a few underground poker games that go on, and in spite of a lot of the population of a country not being in favor of gambling, presumably anyway, and in spite of strict laws against it, the people still find a way to do it.
Now that we have online poker, that has opened up a whole new way for people to play, and one that is much more out of reach of the authorities. So with the massive population here, this is where the most potential lies, and while some governments in Asia look to try to keep people from playing online, it isn’t very effective, and given the desire to gamble isn’t quashed by even the threat of prison in some cases, online gambling and online poker provide a way to do it without anywhere near as much risk.
It’s not that governments in Asia do not seek to take measures to prevent their people from doing so, but a lot of countries don’t even bother with this, and in some countries the efforts do not amount to that much, and even in cases where the government does work hard to prevent this, it isn’t all that effective anyway.
In some countries it’s not even against the law to play at foreign online poker sites, and in others it’s just not all that clear whether it is or not, although this all comes down to enforcement. In spite of raids on underground land based gambling, it still goes on, and it’s far more difficult to enforce online poker bans than it is to have police gather intelligence and break up live games.
Asia is pretty big though to say the least and pretty varied as well, so any discussion of the laws surrounding poker and the availability of poker is going to differ a lot by country, and therefore we have created a separate discussion for you on each of the countries within Asia, to be able to drill down to what’s going on in each one here, as well as what the outlook may be for poker going forward in each particular country, which you are welcome to check out.