When the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was first unleashed on the poker world, there was heavy speculation that the largely untapped Asian market would be the haven for the online casino operators. That prediction is beginning to bear fruit, particularly after the weekend just gone, which has demonstrated how big the potential of the Asian Market is.
First of all, the first ever poker tournament held in the people's republic of China was a huge success. The Asian Pacific Poker Tour Macau has just concluded their main event; with 352 entrants in this $2,500 freeze out, the quality of the final table alone was testament to the potential of the Chinese poker scene. Joe Hachem, Bertrand Grospellier and Liz Lieu all joined eventual winner Dinh Le to contest the $222,640 first prize.
And as we speak, a special $15,000 high rollers event is taking place in Macau, with some of the biggest names in the game. John, Juanda, Isabelle Mercier, Barry Greenstein, Scotty Nguyen, Kirk Morrison, Lee Nelson and Jeff Lisandro are all still playing in that event with a $368,640 first prize.
Also last week the news was released that Playtech, who own the Ipoker network, are planning on expanding into the Asian market by signing a three year deal to provide poker and other player-to-player games to Asia. This may also include popular Asian games like Do-Di-Zhu and 13 card poker. Playtech Executive Mor Weizer told Reuters that they expect to see $4-5 million in revenue in 2008.
Many Asian jurisdictions already allow forms of online gambling, including the Philippines, Cambodia, Korea, Singapore, Japan and Vietnam. Now following the APPT event in Macau, China is expected to follow suit.
NETeller have also seen the potential in the Asian market, after suffering a heavy loss when it could no longer accommodate the American online gambling market. Since then they have expanded their operation into the Asia Pacific region. The World Poker Store, who run Bar Poker Leagues, have also announced their interest in expanding into this rapidly growing region.
Nobody knows for certain what the future is for either the American gambling community or the developing Asian market. One thing is for certain, for the gambling industry as a whole, this has shown there is certainly life after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act
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