Asia's first online casino set to open doors

Ignoring regional government concerns about the potential social problems caused by online gambling, Philippines company Sports and Games Entertainment (Sage) will launch next month what it describes as Asia's first online casino.

The downloadable casino software is available in eight languages, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Thai, English, Spanish, and French. Sage officials have been reported as saying they hope the multiple language versions will help lure more than 100,000 foreign players by the end of this year.

Games available include video poker, blackjack, mini baccarat, slots, roulette, sic bo (a dice game), craps and keno.

The casino has been licensed by the Philippine government through its regulatory body, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming, Sage said in a statement yesterday.

But the company stresses that foreign nationals wishing to play are bound by their own countries' laws. For example, residents of the US are prohibited from playing due to the 1961 Wires Act that prohibits the placing of a bet or wager over a telephone line.

More recently, US Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, has filed an Internet-specific anti-gaming bill called the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, expected to be signed into law in the US later this year.

Under a variety of laws adapted from ordinary gambling laws, or aimed at ISPs (internet service providers), internet gambling is illegal for residents of Singapore, Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan, but currently legal in Australia, despite that country's recent efforts to curb online gambling operators.

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