If you have ever tried to make some sense of the complex landscape of the betting industry, you have no doubt come across the term Asian bookmaker. The Asian bookmaker is a fascinating creature, but also one a bit hard to describe.
What is it that makes Asian bookmakers special? Asia is obviously a huge piece of land – does every bookmaker in Asia qualify as an Asian bookmaker? Actually, this is not the case – at least not in the sense attributed to the term Asian bookie in the betting community. Do in fact bookmakers from other geographies also fall under this term? You could say so, again using the accepted interpretation of the term. Sounds complicated? Probably because it really is (a bit) complicated, but perhaps not as much as it sounds.
The goal of this article is to disperse some light on the term Asian bookmaker. Hopefully by the time you have read the piece, you will know what is meant when someone refers to the “Asians”, what is their history and reputation, what are they good for, and how you can benefit from the service they provide. Let’s dive in.
What is an Asian bookmaker?
Let us begin with some history. The Asian continent is not only a vast piece of land, but also a densely populated one. And Asians, not unlike people from other continents, love to gamble. Those two facts combined have made Asia the largest betting market there is. According to basic economic law, huge demand soon creates the corresponding supply, and so most of the largest betting operators were started in Asia, with many of them continuing to operate until today.
The Chinese market
Many consider gambling a vice and a net negative for a society. Joseph Buchdahl has done a great deal exposing the hypocrisy of this point of view, nevertheless it remains a widely held one across people from different social backgrounds and cultures. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a highly concervative and authoritarian government such as the Chinese one, has made gambling illegal in China. The Chinese Communist Party outlawed gambling in 1949 shortly after seizing power and has kept the gambling ban in place until today.
The huge Chinese population, a large part of which would like to place a bet without having the means to do so, is a powerful economic force which would shape the gambling market for many years to come. This force has only grown stronger with the boom of the Chinese economy from the last decades.
You might have heard about the island of Macau, which generates about seven times the gambling revenue of Las Vegas. Many of us are used to thinking of Vegas as the gambling capital of the world, but those figures clearly show that the title belongs to Macau. How did the island of Macau come to earn this prize?
Macau is a Chinese territory with a special administrative status. In plain English, that means Macau gets to have different laws in certain areas as compared to mainland China. There is one crucial legal difference, which made Macau the gambling mecca it is today: Macau is the only one of two Chinese territories where gambling is legal. Not only that, but unlike many other jurisdictions, Macau has declared gambling winnings tax-free. Once you know those two simple facts, it is easy to understand how Macau attracts such gambling revenue. With its special status, Macau has become a massive cluster of gambling business entities and the number one spot of gambling activity.
While Macau has historically specialized in casino and card gaming, another Chinese territory with a special administrative status, Hong Kong, has a rich history in horse betting. If you are familiar with the marvelous story of Bill Benter, the man who cracked horse racing and became one of the richest gamblers in the world in the process, you would have heard of an entity called the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC).
An institution 137 years old, the HKJC has a state-granted monopoly on horse racing and sports betting. This privileged status has granted HKJC the ability to generate a gambling revenue equivalent of $35.9 billion in 2021. To get a sense of perspective, that is almost 2.5 times the $14.9 billion the entire state of Nevada generated during the same period.
Macau and Hong Kong weren’t the only beneficiaries of the Chinese gamblilng prohibition, despite remaining the biggest ones. There is a long lasting tradition of Chinese gambling tourism in various other countries in Chinese proximity such as the Philippines, Malaysia and others.
The prohibition regime has created various gambling hot spots and the corresponding business entities turning around huge amounts of gambling money. Doing business on a large scale for a long amount of time has made these entities very good at what they do.
Clearly, the cost of a pricing mistake for a bookmaker rises in proportion to the total value of bets the bookmaker is willing to accept at any given point in time. Therefore, bookmakers who are willing to take large amounts of gambling revenue rarely make such mistakes. This dynamic has helped make the Asian bookmakers who have historically accommodated the flow of Chinese betting money the most proficient in the world. They are ready to take huge bets on any event and are able to price the event’s outcomes with great precision.
Those bookmakers became known as the Asians. There is a great variety of Asian bookmakers, but BetISN or SboBet are two examples that come to mind.
The Asian bookmakers are highly respected in the betting industry for the reasons outlined above. They are also often quoted as a positive example of conducting betting business as compared to the European bookmaker for example. The latter is rather focused on improving its profit margin by attracting square money and chasing away the rest, than on increasing revenue by locking in the sharp high-roller. As a result of this, when a price disparity between a European and an Asian bookmaker occurs, it is usually (if not always) the Asian one, which is offering the more accurate pricing. An important fact which serves as a money maker in sure betting and value betting – two strategies offered to the punter as an out-of-the-box solution by RebelBetting since many years already.
You would have seen by now that the terms “Asian” and “European”, as they apply to bookmakers in a gambling context, do not strictly refer to the geography but rather to the business model of the given bookmaker. It is the case that the one (market-maker) and the other (square money chaser) business model is the predominant one in Asia and in Europe respectively, which gives those business models their descriptions in the betting jargon.
The USA and the offshore market
But what about the others? There are various other areas in the world with a big betting market and a unique betting landscape. Clearly, the USA comes to mind. As the biggest economy in the world, you can never leave the USA out of the discussion, when it comes to the global betting industry. The USA is also a huge betting market and one which was very restricted for a long time. Sports Betting was illegal in the United States as per a federal law from 1992, which granted an exception for Nevada, the home state of Las Vegas. This was probably the main reason for the tremendous growth of the gambling industry in Las Vegas in the last decades. Sounds familiar?
The parallels to China don’t stop here. This betting prohibition led to the development of a huge offshore industry with bookmakers operating from countries close to the USA, which were almost exclusively targeting the US betting revenue. Many of them were located in the Caribbean and created a significant customer base in the USA, to which they are providing betting services on a large scale continuously until now.
Perhaps the most renowned Caribbean bookie out there, Pinnacle, is headquartered in Curacao and is one of the largest providers on the offshore market. You might see Pinnacle mixed in with the Asians or see people talking about “Pinnacle and the Asians” or even referring to the “Caribbeans” or the “offshore bookmakers” as a separate group. At the end of the day, Pinnacle is representing a group of bookmakers that were established in a completely different geographical area but have operated in a very similar context as the Asians and as a result have developed a very similar business model. Consequently, the offshore bookies just like the Asians accept higher stake bets, don’t limit winning players and are capable of calculating accurate odds on any event. I like to call this whole bunch market making bookmakers or sharp bookmakers to avoid confusion, but the two groups do get frequently mixed up due to their similarities.
The 1992 law prohibiting sports betting in the United States was overturned in 2018, creating a new dynamic where each state could set its own rules regarding the legality of sports betting. In turn sports betting became legal in a large number of states and a lot of new bookmakers started popping up on shore, some of which have meanwhile grown pretty big (DraftKings being a notable example).
However, many of those onshore bookies still struggle to compete with the old offshore players due to the superior product of the offshore bookmaker – high betting limits with no restrictions. Therefore the US market has become a battleground for the two business models – the Asian and the European one mentioned above. For now, the European model is the predominant one onshore, but a large number of US gamblers prefer to continue to play offshore. Specific and accurate numbers are hard to come by for obvious reasons, so it is too early to declare a winner at this point. Good thing is – RebelBetting services include all the top US bookmakers, including off shore ones.
Drawbacks of betting with an Asian
Admittedly, the presentation of the two business models above was a bit one-sided. If the Asian model is so great for the punter, why does the European one thrive in so many countries?
There are a few things the Europeans offer that you will rarely or never see with an Asian. Given that the Europeans are after the square money, they will invest heavily in marketing in order to attract those. This means they would often offer registration or top-up bonuses to the punter that are not available to the Asians. With the likes of bet365, WilliamHill or Ladbrokes, you can easily increase your starting capital by making use of the different bonuses they provide. This is something you normally can’t do with Asians.
Furthermore, due to the fact that the prices of the European bookmakers are less sharp, it will be easier to beat those and to turn a profit with such bookmakers for the regular punter. More on the how below, but suffice to say it is way easier to have an account “in the green” with an European bookmaker than with an Asian one. Knowing how sharp the prices of an Asian are, you need to be a real wizard of the betting markets in order to beat one of those.
What does it mean for you?
Which is the most profitable business model is perhaps an intriguing question for the CEO of a betting company, but perhaps less so for a regular punter. So what’s in there for me, I hear you ask.
The hint was already given earlier in the article. The disparity of prices between different types of bookmakers creates profitable betting opportunities. Being knowledgeable about bookmaker business models clearly shows you which side to take when such disparities occur. If an Asian and a European argue about the price of a betting event, the Asian is right and the European is wrong. In this case, you can confidently bet the event with the European bookmaker, knowing the price there is tilted to your advantage. This is the strategy known as value betting, which is being offered by RebelBetting and has reliably delivered betting profits to its customers since its launch in 2019. Check out the amazing customer results so far.
How does it work?
RebelBetting would compare the odds at a list of selected Europeans you are interested into the Asian market. When a significant disparity is being detected, RebelBetting would advise you to bet in the European. On a long enough timeline, such a strategy is guaranteed to give you a profit. In fact this is perhaps the simplest and most reliable way to extract profits from the betting market.
Use the Asian as an insurer
Once you have placed the value bet you have two choices. You either leave the bet to run its course, which guarantees you profit in the long run but leaves you exposed to some serious volatility of betting returns. Or you sacrifice a part of your expected return to lock in a guaranteed real return.
In other words you can place a bet in the opposite direction with the Asian in order to lock in an arbitrage trade, guaranteeing you a small profit from the bet pair. Aritrage bets frequently show up between regular soft bookmakers as well, perhaps even more often compared to sharp Asians. Whith that said, you don’t necessarily need to use Asian bookmakers to profit from arbitrage betting. This is also known as sure betting.
Sure betting is actually the original product of RebelBetting. It was being offered long before Value Betting has drawn the interest of the betting crowd and is still being offered today. Betting on sure bets are almost risk free as you lock in a guaranteed profit no matter the outcome of the game.
You can see the allure of sure betting as compared to value betting, and if you want to compare these investment methods further, take a look att this comparison. You manage to lock in a sure profit on every event, so that your P/L (profit and loss) graph becomes a straight upward line. Not so with value betting, where your P/L graph is subject to big shortterm up- and downswings. A large drawdown in a short period of time following a value betting strategy is not for the fainthearted.
Naturally, this certainty of profits in the sure betting strategy comes at a price. Using the Asian bookmaker as an insurer, you need to pay for this insurance service in the form of the Asian bookmaker’s overround. However, you are still left with a positive return (even though a smaller one as compared to value betting) and a full predictability of your profit, which gives you peace of mind.
Value betting or sure betting, which strategy is better for you? It all depends on your tolerance for risk, your bank and even perhaps your character.
Everyone could find out for themselves which strategy they like better by using some of the free trials RebelBetting is offering. The fact remains that both those strategies offer you a reliable way to benefit from the different business models prevalent in the betting landscape – the Asian and the European one.
Knowing who the Asian bookmakers are and what benefit they offer to the punter, you have the advantage of understanding the underlying factors that make value betting and sure betting profitable.
The path is clear: if you follow the Asians you can profit from the Europeans. Rebelbetting gives you the tools to do so, it is up to you to make use of them. Give the value betting or the sure betting tool of Rebelbetting a try and have fun on your journey towards profitable sports betting – the Asian bookmaker will show you the way.
For more interesting articles, see the value betting help section.
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