Across the world, we see an explosion of the game of poker.
Australian Joe Hachem’s big 2005 WSOP win inevitably triggered increased interest in the game Down Under, and lifted the attention of people in the Asia Pacific towards poker. Those in the poker industry in established countries see the vast opportunity for bringing poker competitions to Asia.
Already Asia has, in the 6 months prior to the writing of this article, seen at least 3 new tournaments sprouting around the Asian continent. The most famous of these was the Asian Poker Tour held in Singapore.
The APT is a prelude to Singapore’s 2 new integrated resorts, of which casinos formed the highlight component. The integrated resorts are major commercial and residential property developments introduced by the Singapore Government’s as its latest initiative to drive the Singapore economy and to grow Singapore into a major tourist destination for the region.
But Singapore is not the only destination in Asia with a draw for the poker player’s dollar. Macau has, less than a decade after the liberalisation of its casino restrictions, recently surpassed the dominant Las Vegas as the highest revenue generating gambling destination in the world. Perhaps there are benefits to introducing casinos and poker to the Asian region still enjoying rapid economic growth and populated by some two thirds of the world’s population.
Singapore and Macau in the Asia Pacific are sure to provide many more opportunities to play poker in this region.
All the signs are that poker can be bigger here than it could ever be in Europe and North America. Indeed, with the recent passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in the US, several major companies have adopted the policy of completely restricting US citizens from playing in the US. The result is that these companies are actively promoting their poker games to Europe, Australia, and soon, you will find, Asia as well. There are no borders in the internet and any individual sitting in Manchester, Melbourne or Macau can play poker online.
Asia will have its challenges in the development of this industry. Many countries are of conservative values or are still staunch in religions or beliefs and hence that may look poorly upon poker. Of course, the starting perception of poker is as part of gambling and betting and gaming.
However, these are no different from issues once faced by poker players in other continents. Indeed, the perception of poker worldwide is changing. There is argument that poker should be seen more as a sport due to the dominance of skill over the element of chance involved in poker. An increasing number of people do not turn professional to play roulette or other casino games – they turn professional to play poker because there are opportunities to influence the course of game with skill.