Origin of Asian Handicap

Where does the term Asian Handicap come from? Who invented the description?

The term `Asian Handicap` was invented in the late 1990s by Joe Saumarez Smith, who at the time was writing about gambling for English newspapers and an American gambling website called Vegas Insider.

Joe Saumarez Smith told Bet Asia how the term came about: "I was working for Vegas Insider, which was one of the first online gambling information sites. I was writing about soccer betting and I received an email from someone in Jakarta called Joseph Phan. This was in November 1998.

"He explained that he was setting up the first online betting site in Asia, which was called jphan.com. He said that the Asian term for this type of betting was `hang cheng` but asked what he should call it.

"He had to explain to me how it all worked and I thought it sounded like a handicap system. You have to remember that no-one in Europe had even heard of this way of betting, with the possible exception of a few bookmakers working for Victor Chandler such as Tony Bloom.

"Anyway, I emailed backed to Mr Phan saying that I thought `Asian Handicap` was the best way of describing this betting system and the next thing I knew it was all over his website.

"The spread betting firms, in particular IG Index, started using his odds to calculate their markets and they started calling it the Asian handicap. Slowly it spread around the industry and now it seems to be the accepted term worldwide."

Joe Saumarez Smith admits that not everyone likes the term `Asian Handicap`. "I`ve had bookmakers come up to me and ask what I was thinking when I decided to call it Asian handicap betting. They think it sounds like some medical affliction or that it just sounds really wierd and is going to put people off betting on that style of odds market. But I have to admit that even now I think of what would be a better description and struggle to come up with a better one.

"I had no idea that it would become a universally used term but I am quite proud it did. When I die my relatives can at least say I left something lasting for the gambling industry!"