Inside Asian Gaming

INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | June 2008 20 T he launch of soccer’s Euro 2008 tournament this month and the Beijing 2008 Olympics in August will again draw media attention to one of Asia’s highest grossing leisure industries— sports betting. But unlike other elements of Asia’s economy such as the hotel and tourism sector, governments complain they can’t get their hands on much of the revenue raised by sport betting. This is because most of it isn’t being spent in domestically licensed betting shops but is reportedly going instead to the offshore betting market or to backstreet unlicensed bookmakers. Football, football, football In Asia, sports betting means essentially football betting. Industry sources told Inside Asian Gaming that gambling on football matches accounts for 90% of all fixed odds sports betting in Asia, and the sums being staked are mind boggling. In China alone, all forms of unregulated betting (of which soccer is just one part) Fun and Games This Summer Asian governments would be better off meeting demand for sports betting than complaining about offshore or unregulated suppliers Sport Betting generated as much as 800 billion yuan (about US$114 billion at current exchange rates) in 2006 according to the China Center for Lottery Studies at Peking University. That’s ten times the amount spent on both of China’s state-run lotteries last year. “People are drawn to the illegal market because the games are more entertaining than the official ones. It’s a serious problem,” Wang Xuehong, director of the centre, said recently. Definitions Care needs to be taken with the use of The Beijing National Stadium, also knows as the “Bird’s Nest” for its distinctive design, will host the 2008 Olympics opening ceremony and main track and field events