There are a number of Governments around the world that are ambiguous about allowing the online gambling industry into their countries. When we use the word ‘allowing’ it is with regards to licensing and regulating a formalized industry structure.
We do not use it in relationship to ‘allowing’ online gambling for the end user, because despite the fact that this activity is illegal both in Australia and the USA for example; the illegality of online gambling does not stop people from finding ways to play. The belief is that no kind of prohibition has, or ever will work as far as gambling is concerned. If people can’t do it legally, they will do it illegally; it is inherent in human nature to take a gamble for something that could potentially be of more value.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is a well respected international accounting firm and last week they released a report which claims it would be better for governments to license and regulate online gambling. Ignoring it, won’t make it go away! They say their findings are particularly valid considering the current global financial crisis; as public sector funds become more thin on the ground.
The Singapore gambling market is already one of the world’s largest, and although the government does not allow online gambling, this might change. The public are calling for a legalized and regulated industry.
While the US does not have an online gambling industry per se, this does not stop billions of gambling dollars from leaving the country as people gamble at offshore sites. They would gamble at Singaporean site too if they could! The online and live gambling marketplace in the Asia-Pacific region is said to be one of the fastest growing markets globally. The land gambling industry in this region is already said to be expected to over-take the US in the next two years.
The PwC report also says that by 2015; Asian-Pacific gaming revenue will have grown to $79.3 billion. These revenues grew by 47.9% in 2010, to $34.3 billion, and this is an on-going trend. Experts believe that there is massive potential for both the Singapore government and the online gambling industry in this region.
The problem is that just as with the USA, the government believes that the legalization of online gambling allows credibility to the industry, which will have a social impact in terms of problem gambling. While if we can believe reports from the UK, there has been very little in terms of a significant increase in problem gambling with their history of the online industry. The UK is considered to be the world leader in this industry currently.
Singapore also has a valid argument in that the government is apparently in a healthy financial situation. The US unfortunately can’t say the same.
The Australian Government is also currently in the process of reviewing their 2001 Internet Gambling Act. This has prompted plenty of potential participants in this industry keen to have a say in any new legislation. Australian gamblers are already spending AU$1 billion with offshore gambling sites.