|PLUSLottoTM, since 1995 the world’s premier Internet lottery operator, today announced its expansion into the largely untapped Asian gaming market.|
With http://www.pluslotto.com/ already operating in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, directors feel that the time is right for its innovative lottery, bingo and scratchcard games to launch in what is potentially the largest market in the world. In China alone Internet use grew by almost 50 percent to 33.7 million in 2001. The decision to enter the market was made at the end of January this year, and http://asia.pluslotto.com/ was ready for launch just a few weeks later.
With one sixth of the world’s population, and a culture pre-disposed to games of chance, moving into the Chinese market still presents plenty of challenges. Looking at site maintenance alone, written Chinese exists in two forms: traditional (the standard in mainland China) and simplified used everywhere else in the world. For customer care, where spoken Chinese and email are used, there are again two forms, Mandarin and Cantonese.
Setting up customer care has involved forming a partnership with providers in Australia, in a selection process that took longer than development of the site itself. Using technology developed by Zabadoo.comTM to ‘white-label’ PLUSLottoTM for other media brands (most recently LuckySurf .comTM which is using the site to convert its 8 million free-to-play players to pay-to-play) PLUSLottoTM was able to work with Asian partners in Macau to rapidly transform the site into one suitable for Chinese players.
Asia.pluslotto.com launches in simplified Chinese (the most commonly used form) with the development of a traditional version expected in the second quarter of 2002. Choosing the simplified form was not simply a question of market size, but also a question of segmentation and identification of the most appropriate markets to address. Latest figures show that some twelve percent of the population of Singapore is worth US$250,000 or more. In Hong Kong, the figure is nine percent and in Taiwan seven percent
A report published last month by the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants forecast that there would be 242 million Internet users in Asia-Pacific by 2005, so the move into Asia clearly won’t be focused only on the Chinese market.
“We’re still deciding ‘where and when next’ –the current the choice is between Japan and Korea“ says CEO Adriaan Brink. The Japanese ecommerce market grew by 58.4 percent last year to JPY35.51 trillion (USD264.52 billion), according to the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. However, with the economy in trouble, and news like February’s announcement that ecommerce giant eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) are making strong acquisitions in Taiwan while pulling out of Japan, PLUS Lotto’s directors are left to speculate on players’ future online spend, and what that means for the online gaming sector.