This year has so far seen poker either go to or increase in different shores. A number of US states have legalised and regulated online poker, while the Australian city of Melbourne hosted the first ever World Series of Poker (WSOP) Asia Pacific event back in April. It was also recently announce that the DeepStacks series would add events in Barcelona and Panama City to its schedule.
Despite this, poker is still not accepted everywhere, with a number of countries still having laws against the game being played and hosted. It is a shame for some of those places, as they seem to have all the attributes to host some top notch poker events. At least five such places exist around the world, all of which would likely benefit in many ways from hosting major poker events.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi
The two cities in the United Arab Emirates would be great for hosting poker events for reasons highlighted in this Thursday article. It’s a few hours’ flight from most Asian and European cities and its two main airlines, Emirates and Etihad, have direct long-haul flights to Australia and North America. That helps make the country easily accessible to poker players around the world.
Both cities are also majorly modern and flashy, which has led to comparisons between the cities and Las Vegas. There is one unfortunate exception to that comparison, however – the gaming, or lack of it in the country. The strict attitudes against poker and most other forms of gaming mean we will unlikely to see the game played there for a while at least.
The British island territory of 64,000 people sits in the Atlantic Ocean slightly east of North America. It has been in the news in recent months as there have been talks of a referendum to legalise and regulate gaming in the territory, although no date for it has yet been set.
Bermuda’s airport currently hosts short flights to a number of cities in the US and Canada, and has direct flights to London, making it relatively accessible to those in Europe as well as North America. While the island is not physically in the Caribbean, its beaches very much like those in the tropical region, which would make an exotic, yet accessible place for poker tournaments.
That could soon be a reality should a future referendum give the green light to gaming regulation in Bermuda.
Hi-tech, wealthy, clean and safe; all of those qualities are synonymous with the land of the rising sun. With direct flights from most of Asia, Oceania and North America, the northeast Asian country is also easily accessible to poker pros from all over the world.
There are two downsides though. First, Japan is a notoriously costly place to be in, with the cheapest meals being around $10. The other downside is that most forms of gaming in casinos are not legal in the country, though there is a major push by lobbyists and some sections of Japan’s legislature to change this.
If they are successful in that push, then Japan may just become the next hotspot on the global poker scene.
This may seem like a surprising choice, but Thailand is a country that has long been popular with those travelling in Southeast Asia. It’s laid back lifestyle, stunning beaches and central location in the region make it a prime spot for travellers everywhere.
However, like Japan, there are two obvious downsides with regards to poker. First, poker, and most forms of gaming are illegal, even though gaming & betting is popular in the country. Even if it was legal, Thailand is situated in the same region as Singapore and Macau, two of the continents premier gaming hubs.
What Thailand has that Macau and Singapore don’t, however, is a much cheaper and more ‘raw’ lifestyle, which could set it apart from the other two centres. However, it’s potential as a top spot for professional poker events is unlikely to be seen anytime soon.
For places like Japan and Bermuda, the winds may soon change and the potential for poker may be realised and reached. While it might be possible to get away with playing online poker in Thailand, its laws against most forms of gaming mean the hosting of major poker events will not happen anytime soon. In the UAE, cultural reasons mean the attitude against gaming will likely stay the same for some time to come.
It still doesn’t mean we can’t dream.