For over a decade, Asia has been touted as the region where the next – and most explosive – poker boom will occur, and yet the spark has failed to fully ignite. So how much appetite is there still for poker in the Far East and what’s holding the game back?
A consortium led by one of China’s leading online games companies sent ripples through the online gaming community in July, announcing it would buy Israel’s Playtika for $4.4 billion in cash. The deal is the largest transaction in the social casino industry to date, and in fact one of the largest transactions in the entire gaming industry in 2016. It also served as a wake up call as to the industry’s potential and the growing interest in Asia.
Regulation in Asia is failing to keep pace with technological advances in the lottery industry and is weighing on the region’s potential, insiders say. That creates a hurdle as most industry experts agree that growth in the sector will be lead by online and mobile innovation.
China’s clampdown on online lottery sales is likely to have a significant impact on the country’s booming lottery market in the short term, but shouldn’t be read as a signal that Beijing is seeking to permanently shut down remote lottery distribution, experts say.E-commerce giant Alibaba on Tuesday said it was suspending sales of online lottery tickets in China, following in the footsteps of New York Stock Exchange-listed online lottery company 500.com, Tencent and others.Although estimates vary on how much of the RMB 382.4 billion ($61 billion) in 2014 sales were actually generated online, the amount is thought to have been “substantial.” However, industry insiders say the existing system was badly flawed and the suspension may pave the way for a much needed overhaul.Both legal lotteries in China, the Welfare Lottery and the Sports Lottery have a national brand and national regulation, but the day-to-day operations are organized at the provincial level. The province is also responsible for generating sales.