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PwC Recommends Legalising Online Gambling in the Asia-Pacific

Last week PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released a report claiming that it would be better for governments to license and regulate online gambling rather than ignore it. They believe that this is particularly the case during the global financial crisis when public sector funds are strained.

As Singapore’s gambling market looks set become the largest in the world a number of people are calling for the government to legalise online gambling.

Singapore is one of the fastest growing online gambling markets in the Asia-Pacific region and it is expected to overtake the United States within the next two years becoming the largest region in the world for casino gaming.

According to the report, gaming revenue in the Asia-Pacific will grow to $79.3 billion in 2015, up from $34.3 billion last year. This follows the trend which saw casino gaming revenues grow by a massive 47.9% in 2010.

At present online gambling is illegal in Singapore, however, the Singapore Pools allows people to play the lottery or place sports bets over the phone using a pre-paid account. Jonathan Galaviz, a leading gaming analyst and chief economist of Galaviz & Co has pointed out that there is huge growth in the region in online gambling and the government should seize the opportunity.

However, much like the opposition being aired at the moment in the United States, a number of analysts believe that legalisation would have a significant social impact. A senior partner at the Casino Consultant Platform Asia Management Services, Felix Ling, said that legalisation would lead to a significant rise in problem gambling.

Dr Derek da Cunha, the author of ‘Singapore Places its Bets’ agreed and said that if online gambling was legalised it “would simply give respectability to this activity.” He claims that the social consequences would be immense, especially as people begin to gamble using mobile devices instead of working.

Dr Cunha also pointed out that at present Singapore’s governments finances are healthy and it does not need to find a new source of tax revenues.

OCA News Editor

Jenny McKinnley is OCA’s financial correspondent. After spending years on the trading floor in both NY and London, she offers insight from the inside out on world financial news and events.