Global Betting and Gaming Consultants’ Lorien Pilling told InterGaming that China’s online gambling market produced a gross gaming yield of $562.4m in 2011. Not quite Macau numbers, but then again, this race has only just begun. Factoring in the agent system and the low margins of Asian handicap betting, Pilling suggests last year’s online turnover could have been as high as $15b to $18b. And apparently, none of that money is coming from Hong Kong.
Nearly two-thirds of Hong Kong residents participated in some form of gambling in 2011, according to a new government-funded study (.pdf). The Hong Kong Polytechnic University surveyed 2k residents aged 15-64, of whom 62% claimed to have gambled in the past year. That’s down from 71.3% in 2008 (when the last survey was conducted) and down even further since 2005’s high-water mark of 80.4%. The Mark Six lottery was the favorite form of gambling (enjoyed by 56% of respondents), followed by social gambling i.e. mahjong and poker (33%), horseracing (12.9%), Macau casinos (11.9%) and football betting (6.6%).
Average monthly expenditures on football were down in 2011, but the lottery and racing numbers rose. Macau’s average was up dramatically, from $428 in 2008 to $1,409 last year, but Macau had a lower median expenditure ($100) than football ($150) and racing ($300). Despite composing only 45% of the total sample, male respondents held a slight edge in Mark Six participation. The male/female ratio was almost 4:1 for horseracing, and almost 14:1 for football betting. But Macau casinos attracted only marginally more men (12.9%) than women (11%), underscoring the Asian gambling hub’s broad appeal. Who needs Cirque du Soleil?
A slight plurality of respondents (46.9%) felt gambling advertising did not induce more people to gamble. Of the 44.9% who felt gambling ads did create more gamblers, a majority (54.6%) had not gambled in the past year. (Which kinda disproves their theory, but whatever.) Over two-thirds (68.6%) supported raising the legal age for gambling from 18 to 21. The percentages of problem (1.9) and pathological (1.4) gamblers have both fallen since 2008.
Only 0.3% of respondents claimed to have participated in illegal gambling last year, basically defined as anything that isn’t the Hong Kong Jockey Club or Macau. The total number of respondents who dared claim to have gambled online was 11. Eleven, out of 2,204. Uh-huh. Sure.
SOCIAL GAMBLING TOPS AMONG YOUTH
The PolyU researchers also received 4k self-administered responses from secondary school students and college freshmen (all 18 or under). Of these, 40.4% had gambled at some point in their life. The 33.5% who gambled in the past year was virtually unchanged from the 32.3% in 2005. Social gambling and Mark Six continue to be the favorite types of betting, but the number of respondents who placed a horse wager last year was 3.5%, barely a third of the 9.2% in 2001. (It’s officially a global phenomenon, at least as far as youth is concerned: racing is dead.) Football betting participation was 4.7%, down from 7% in 2005.
Predictably, the young saw most of their gambling marketing online and on television. Almost four of five respondents claimed the ads didn’t amp up their desire to gamble. The top three reasons for gambling cited by youths were entertainment value, excitement seeking and curiosity. Leaving aside the fact that most of the respondents were young enough that virtually every form of gambling is considered ‘illegal,’ the number who admitted taking part in illegal gambling was higher (1.9%) than in the overall survey, possibly because these kids are less accomplished liars than their elders. Of the 3.982 young ‘uns who made up the sample, just 15 claimed to have illegally gambled online.