With Italy and other nations tightening the screws on illegal gambling operations, online gaming operations can take advantage of these shutdowns to open up new markets. Learn how to capture these new gaming markets with these tips.
Italy’s Crackdown on Online Gaming
In March of this year, Italian police seized the equivalent of more than USD 95.8 million during a crackdown on illegal online gambling the authorities called “Operation Double Game.” Most of these arrests involved more than illegal gambling. They involved tax evasion, fraud, and other crimes.
Since the subjects arrested had ties with the legendary La Cosa Nostra organized crime organization, it is a welcome step for legitimate gambling casinos, online or onsite. For too long, fully legal gambling establishments have borne the stigma hatched at the Mafia’s doorstep.
However, since Italy has banned many forms of advertising involving the gaming industry, online casinos face another challenge — how to attract people who might have been unsuspecting customers of these illegal operations. Adopting more subtle marketing strategies, such as content marketing, can build trust in the illegal sites’ customers, who probably were burned financially more often than not.
China — A Draconian Move by the Beijing Government
China is going a step or two further than Italy, adding not only illegal gambling to its list of forbidden gaming activities, but more importantly, going on trips with an intent to gamble. Since the Philippines plays host to many Chinese nationals, both as players and as temporary workers in the Philippine online gaming sites’ call centers, this move could affect those workers, the sites’ visitors, and ultimately, the sites themselves.
Although the Beijing government claims that it will let those persons who confess to participating in gambling activities off with a light sentence or a full pardon, the penalties for getting caught after the ban goes into effect are harsh, to say the least. Even people who participate in organizing trips to offshore gambling locations get up to 10 years in prison.
Unfortunately, for at least the short term, Chinese nationals who participate in online gaming do so at the risk of their freedom. However, since online casinos do a 24-billion dollar business there, perhaps they should instead adopt the Philippine government’s position on online gaming — if you can’t beat them, tax them. That government took in a record amount of cash in tax alone during the coronavirus lockdowns, much of it from online gaming casinos — from Chinese nationals. It would indeed be in the best interests of both the Chinese government’s financial health and its people’s happiness if online gaming lobbyists could successfully bring the Beijing government to see the practicality of legalization.
Thailand — A Hazy Legal Situation
Although the Southeast Asian country has a strict ban on brick-and-mortar gambling casinos, with occasional police raids underscoring the law, online gambling is alive and well in this tourist paradise. According to Powerboat Racing World’s John Moore, about 57 percent of Thais indicated that they participate in gambling in a recent survey. The second-highest number of the people surveyed take part in online gaming.
Although the Thai government has banned several websites, as Moore points out, VPNs are still legal, unlike other countries, including G20 members China, Russia, and Turkey. That factor opens the door to savvy Thai gamers and the online casinos that serve them.
That makes new gaming markets a risky yet potentially profitable bet for online gaming companies. Like in Italy and other countries with advertising bans, content marketing that provides Thais with information about their favorite sports teams and other topics can build your authority in the gaming space without attracting undue attention.
Reach Out to New Markets, But Do So Carefully
Our advice for gaming industry professionals who want to capture new gaming markets in these countries with stringent regulations? Know the law, and tread carefully. Consider offering your customers gamers the opportunity to pay in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.
Use the power of word-of-mouth advertising and informative content to attract gamblers in these countries, and use the power of diplomacy to build relationships with governments hostile to the gambling industry. Like with the Philippines, those countries have much to gain by opening their borders to gambling. Those who do will find their coffers overflowing, even during challenging times.