Gambling has always been in high demand in Asia. Their history on the continent goes back thousands of years: the first games were invented in China in ancient times. From mahjong to keno, which, by the way, was used to build the Great Wall of China, gambling in this part of the world has long attracted an enormous number of people.
Now, with the latest technological advances and the growing popularity of online casinos and gambling sites, the gambling scene in Asia is slowly re-emerging. The market is no longer limited to terrestrial establishments: Internet sites are also starting to play a significant role.
Not all Asian countries, however, welcome any form of gambling, let alone online gambling. Islamic laws and strict casino policies hinder the development of the gambling market. They have an extremely negative impact on the economic potential of this area.
In recent months, the coronavirus has forced many Asian countries to turn their attention to online gambling. This has given operators the perfect opportunity to enter one of the fastest-growing markets in the world.
Below we will take a closer look at gambling in Asia, the role of online gambling, and opportunities for online casinos.
General overview of the Asian gambling market
Each state in Asia has its view of gambling. In predominantly Muslim countries, any form of gambling is completely prohibited. Others operate different types of gambling venues, from government lotteries and bookmakers to large casinos. The main gambling centers in Asia are the so-called gambling and entertainment resorts in Macau and the Philippines.
Macau is the largest gambling center globally: more than 40 million tourists visit its luxurious casinos to enjoy quality poker, baccarat, roulette, blackjack, and other games. Although China prohibits any gambling, Macau is a Special Administrative Region, allowing casinos to operate freely in this territory. Gambling accounts for more than half of Macau’s total revenue, more than $ 50 billion a year.
As for Japan, there is a positive development. In 2016, amendments to gambling laws were adopted, according to which it became allowed to open land-based casinos.
The situation is similar in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The states strive to attract wealthy Chinese tourists with an abundance of affordable games and first-class service.
In the last few years, the Asian market has shifted towards the online sphere. Currently, it accounts for more than 11% of the global Internet gambling market, second only to the European one.
So, in 2019, the income from online casinos in Asia exceeded $ 70 billion, and this number continues to increase every year. Still, the main problem with online gambling is its legality.
Online gambling in Asia – legal or not?
The legal status of online gambling in Asia varies from country to country. It is technically banned in most Asian countries. However, the laws do not apply to players who play on foreign sites. Although some countries, such as China, try to block access to these sites, gamblers still visit them using virtual private networks (VPNs).
The Philippines’ government has taken the most significant steps in the legalization of online casinos. Thus, the Philippine Entertainment and Gaming Corporation, a licensing body for online casinos and betting platforms, was established. Companies licensed by the regulator are now free to operate in the country – this has significantly reduced the percentage of illegal operators and brought in more than $ 3 billion to the treasury.
Can a business in this area be profitable in Asia?
Despite obstacles from legislation, the online casino industry in Asia is booming. Gamblers play on leading foreign sites, thus avoiding any problems with the law. Moreover, more and more countries are beginning to view Internet gambling as an additional source of funds, especially now that the global economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to official statistics, the industry is growing at 50% annually in both the number of players and operators’ profit. Of course, joining it would be a potentially profitable decision.
Working in Asian markets, you need to carefully select games for your site: these should be oriental-themed slots, as well as baccarat, pai gow, and other board games of Asian origin. A good move would be to add a wide variety of payment methods, including cryptocurrencies, e-wallets, credit/debit cards, and mobile banking systems, widely popular in Asia. Finally, each operator should offer the ability to play from mobile devices. Most Asian gamblers use smartphones and tablets to play, and a stable mobile casino is a must.
Now is an excellent time for gambling operators to start operating in Asian countries and take advantage of all the opportunities this growing market offers. Online casinos in Asia can be a very lucrative business. The sooner you choose the White Label or turnkey gambling products that are right for you, the better your market position will be.