Asia is the ideal environment for some of the world’s most appealing markets, with over 60% of the world’s population, a cultural appetite for betting, a growing middle class, and widespread belief in the power of luck.
Asia is home to both established iGaming juggernauts and up-and-coming markets, giving the region a bright future for operators to look forward to.
While access can sometimes be tricky, gaming and betting are a favorite form of recreation in many Asian cultures. Asian players are happy to travel in order to visit casinos when they need to, as well as frequently visiting offshore options; according to the Asian Racing Federation, more than 50% of the region’s gambling activity is in the gray market.
In several countries, there is a drive to liberalize the market: Thailand is discussing the details of market regulation, Vietnam is testing a pilot programme to allow locals to play in casinos which previously only admitted tourists, and some states in India are considering regulating online gambling.
Along with the gambling market, cryptocurrencies are booming across the region, making them a vital part of the payments ecosystem, along with unique local payment systems such as those used in India.
Some interesting features of the Asian gambling market are:
- In Georgia, the gambling sector grew by 23% in 2020, becoming the only part of the national economy that did not experience a decline during the pandemic. With the market booming, the authorities have tried to impose restrictions on businesses, including raising the official gambling age to 25 (for tourists, starting at 18). However, the new restrictions are unlikely to end locals’ thirst for betting.
- In Turkey, gambling is strictly regulated, but the law allows betting on sports (football is one of the country’s favorite pastimes), horse racing, chance games, lotteries, number games and instant win games. Each game is regulated by a separate authority.
- Armenia has become a regional innovation hub with a tech-savvy population in the last 2 years. The world of gambling has also been affected — the percentage of gambling participation here is six times higher than in the UK, which is one of the key centers of the gambling industry in Europe.
- Kazakhstan, with its two special zones for land-based casinos, has become a hub for players from China and Russia, where gambling is banned.
- In Japan, players spend an impressive amount of money on foreign sportsbooks — roughly $40 billion each year.
- South Korea saw demand for lotteries increase during the pandemic, driven by the cancellation of sporting and horse racing events.
- Chinese gamblers spend ¥1 trillion ($145.5 billion) annually on online gambling, much of it in cryptocurrency. Meanwhile, the only legal betting opportunities on the continent are the state-owned monopolies Welfare Lottery and Sports Lottery.
Detailed information about the Asian gambling market is available in Slotegrator’s free downloadable ebook, The Slotegrator Guide to iGaming in Asia, which includes information about Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, India, and Pakistan, in addition to the countries already listed. In total, the guide includes information like market features, payment systems, popular cryptocurrencies, and regulations about 22 countries.
As for game preferences in each country, players’ tastes go beyond the classics (casino, slots, roulette, blackjack). In China, sic bo, mahjong, and pai gow are popular, while Vietnamese players enjoy dice game bau cua tom ca and token game xoc dia, and Indonesian players enjoy fish shooting games and domino game qiu qiu.
Due to the element of social interaction, live dealer games are popular in countries such as Georgia, Iran, Iraq, China, and elsewhere (live dealer games saw a massive increase in activity during the pandemic, and they’re expected to retain their popularity). As far as sports betting is concerned, football, hockey, and cricket are big in India and Pakistan, baseball is popular in Japan, and boxing leads the way in Kazakhstan.
The esports phenomenon is also spreading like wildfire, especially in China and South Korea, with the next generation of sports bettors wagering on Counter Strike, League of Legends, Fortnite, and other top video games.
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