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Asian Governments Urged to Legalize Online Gambling

28 June 2004

SINGAPORE – As reported by the Agence Presse-France: "As underground bookies in Asia increasingly look outside the region for online gambling licenses, big gaming companies are urging Asian governments to fully legalize Internet betting.

"The Asian betting industry rakes in about US$100 billion annually, 80 percent of which comes from illegal transactions, according to the managing director of UK-based online betting company BetFair Asia, Tim Levene.

"…The president of gaming consultancy firm Playtech's Asia Pacific division, Tom Hall, said that underground bookies in Asia are voluntarily seeking government regulation by trying to acquire licenses to set up gaming Web sites.

"But because independent gambling operations have not been legalized across most of Asia, these bookies are instead looking towards countries such as Antigua, Costa Rica and Curacao for their licenses, Hall said.

"…Online gaming is still a legal grey area in most Asian countries except Hong Kong, where legislation forbids punters to bet with anyone except the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

"…Hall and other pro-gaming advocates said that if governments do not start regulating the market soon, they will continue to lose out on tax revenue while doing little to control the explosive growth of underground sports betting.

"…Asian governments are showing increasing signs that they are prepared to relax their anti-gambling attitudes, with Thailand and even Singapore's conservative government considering allowing casinos on their territories…"

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