HONG KONG (Reuters) - Asia is in the midst of a gaming boom with big casino operators keen on diversifying away from Macau, the world’s biggest gambling destination.
The operators also face risks such as unfavorable regulation, political interference and underdeveloped infrastructure.
Following are some key facts about casino gaming in Asia.
-Macau is the only place where the Chinese are legally allowed to casino gamble.
-The former Portuguese colony has six licensed casino operators -- Wynn Macau 1128.HK, Sands China 1928.HK, MGM China 2282.HK, SJM Holdings 0880.HK, Galaxy Entertainment 0027.HK and Melco Crown Entertainment MPEL.O.
-The licenses are given on a concession basis by the Macau government and are set to expire starting 2020 unless renewed.
-Junket operators, middlemen who bring in the high-roller VIP segment and handle their credit, make up around 70 percent of Macau casino operators’ gaming revenue.
-The Singapore government has not yet licensed any junket operators due to the often murky credit dealings and illegal money flows.
-Junket operators can apply for a license, but no application has been approved as the process is much tougher than that in Macau.
-Casino gaming is legal in the Philippines, but the concession to operate casinos is held by state-owned gaming firm PAGCOR.
-PAGCOR derives around 70 percent of its revenue from its 13 casinos, 28 satellite casinos and 25 exclusive VIP clubs.
-The Philippines is set to open a new $15 billion entertainment and casino district in 2013 for which PAGCOR has given four provisional gaming licenses to:
2. Belle Corp BEL.PS, a Philippine developer of luxury residential and leisure properties.
3. Universal Entertainment Corp 6425.OS, a maker of 'pachinko' pinball game machines and operator of amusement facilities in Japan.
4. Bloomsbury Investments
-PAGCOR is both the country’s main gaming operator and gambling regulator, a conflict of interest that has concerned potential investors.
-There is speculation that PAGCOR may privatize as it seeks to increase transparency and attract investors.
-There are more than 20 recognized casinos in Cambodia located near the border and countless others that operate illegally.
-Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp 3918.HK is the sole foreign operator with a large integrated casino resort complex in Cambodia. It was awarded a 70-year concession license to operate in Phnom Penh in 1995.
-NagaCorp said in June it is developing two new projects in Cambodia worth nearly $400 million. The firm accounts for the majority of Cambodian gaming volumes.
-Casino gambling in Vietnam is legal only for foreigners and Vietnamese residents who have foreign passports.
-Canada's Asian Coast Development (ACDL), backed by Harbinger Capital and Pinnacle Entertainment PNK.N, is the only foreign company licensed to build large-scale gaming complex in Southern Vietnam.
-ACDL is due to open the first phase of the Ho Tram strip resort at the start of 2013.
-There are a small number of casino clubs operating in the country through five star hotels and some local governments have issued casino licenses. But the national government still has not legalized gaming.
-Genting Highlands, operated by Genting Malaysia Bhd GENM.KL, is the only casino in Malaysia. It is located at a self-contained hilltop resort an hour's drive from Kuala Lumpur.
-Laos has around 30 recognized casinos which serve the border of Thailand and Vietnam. These casinos are very lightly regulated. There are no major foreign operators present.
-Taiwan has drafted a law to allow building casinos on its outlying islands, but construction can only begin once local residents have approved it via a referendum and the legislature clears a casino law.
-Local media reported that Matsu, off the north-western coast, has started formal planning for a casino and wants to hold a referendum on the issue before November.
-South Korea's Kangwon Land 035250.KS is the only casino open to South Korean citizens. It is located in a rural area far away from major urban city centers, but still overflows with Korean gamblers.
-There are around 16 foreigner-only casinos in South Korea but local residents are allowed to enter if they have a foreign residency permit or passport.
Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Charlie Zhu and Vinu Pilakkott
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