Although Europe contributed to gambling more than any other continent, gambling is more historical in Asia than anywhere else. In fact, the very first recorded appearance of gambling was in 3000 BC when Mesopotamian inhabitants placed wagers on a game of six-sided dice. Today, this West Asian region is mostly divided between Iraq and Kuwait.
Also, the Ancient Chinese placed wagers on unearthed tiles as far back as 2300 BC. According to 詩歌 (the Classic of Poetry, Book of Odes, or the Book of Songs), the tiles game was described with similarities to a typical lottery game, due to a mention of “the drawing of wood”.
Around the same time, Emperor Yao, one of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors of China, invented a game in which participants placed wagers on the outcome of two opponents. The game, although its name is lost, had hundreds of pieces.
Indians, in 1500 BC, made gambling their favorite entertainment activity. Many would wager herds of cattle on dice games. Some also placed more valuable wagers on chariot racing.
In the year 200 BC, Keno became widespread throughout the regions of China and there were tons of tickets sold to fund state projects. Interestingly, the funds for the construction of the Great Wall of China was reportedly raised with the help of many lottery games. The lotteries were being sanctioned by the Chinese authorities on a larger scale in the 15th century.
Furthermore, placing wagers on card games came into existence either in the 9th or early-12th century in the locales of China. Historians believe the rules of the game were completely different from today’s and the card was different from the standard 52 card decks. The latter century is backed by a reference in the Ching-tsze-tung (Chinese dictionary) of 1628.
Other lottery games, as well as dominoes (similar to the Pai Gow Poker), were established in the 10th century. Yet, China and India are not the only Asian countries with a commanding say in the history of gambling. For one, poker was created by the Persians as As-Nas in the 17th century. Well, the origination of poker is quite tricky. While some historians believe the Persians did create poker, some say Poque (a local French game) inspired the game.
Second, the fifth Umayyad caliph, Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, set up a gambling activity in the sixth century in which his officers would toss a coin. As a result of the toss, a particular officer would either have a share of Syria’s wealth or not.
Summarily, the creation of gambling is more evident in Asia than Europe. From 3000 BC to the 17th century, Asia was the leader of all gambling activities. As soon as lotteries became popular in Europe, the advancement of gambling shifted to the region.
And this continued until Macau reclaimed the significance of Asia in the gambling industry in the early-2000s following the many licenses are given out to a number of foreign investors by the Chinese authorities in a semi-futile attempt to end (or at least limit) the monopoly of Stanley Ho since 1962.
However, gambling has been legal in Macau since it was a colony of Portugal, precisely the 1850s. Today, gambling is larger in Macau than any other place in the world, even the prestigious Las Vegas. In fact, casinos in Macau generate close to triple of those in Las Vegas though more people visit the latter destination.
In 2016, Macau generated close to $30 million while Las Vegas generated more than $11 million. The former welcomed 30 million people while more than 42 million visited the latter. Las Vegas also has more than double the number of casinos Macau has. Nonetheless, the single reason the gross gaming revenue of casinos in Macau is so high is its table minimum which is close to $40.
Aside from history and market dominance, the gambling climate of Asia is also impressive. For one, 59.3 million international visitors arrived at Chinese airports in 2016. In 2015, the figure was 56.9 million, which means an increase in the number of visitors from 2015 to 2016. In addition to China, tens of millions of people visit Malaysia, Thailand, Macau SAR, Singapore, India, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong SAR, and United Arab Emirates annually.
Despite the fact that most visitors are attracted to the enchanting history, natural diversities, surreal terrains, and unconventional victuals, gambling is evidently conspicuous in Asia as well. The countries are flawlessly different from one another so diversity is ascertained.
Regarding the laws governing gambling in Asia, most countries put an illegal status on gambling. Under the respective laws, gambling is illegal in China, India, North Korea, and Kuwait. In China, casinos are allowed in some regions and citizens can participate in lotteries run by the State government. In India, gambling within a state is licit or illicit based on the decision of the state; Goa, Sikkim, and Daman permit the operation of casinos while lotteries and horse racing are legal throughout the whole country. In North Korea, citizens cannot participate in gambling activities but foreigners can. In Kuwait, gambling is completely illegal mainly because of the Islamic religion.
In contrast, gambling is legal in some regions including Singapore, both SARs (Hong Kong and Macau), Philippines, and Japan. In Vietnam, citizens must meet the minimum prerequisites in specific casinos. Ultimately, gambling in Asia varies from country to country, unlike Central America where gambling is similarly legal in all countries. The country also determines the gambling climate as the thrill acquirable in Macau or Singapore is relatively different from what the greater percentage of other countries have to offer.
Most Asian casinos are inside a hotel or resort so the gambling atmosphere is as expected: luxe, relaxing, and friendly. Still, most Asian countries are not gambling destinations either because gambling is completely illegal or the casinos present are not up to par.