The Rise of Online Gambling Market In the APAC Region

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The internet has brought the world together in a way that other inventions never could. It gave us instant access to information, money making, entertainment and much more. We don’t realise but it has undoubtedly changed the way we see and experience life itself. Just like it changed us, it has also changed almost every industry, small business owners now have a voice of their own and industries we never thought could exist are yielding more money than the traditional ones.

One such industry is the online gambling; just a decade ago, people hardly knew about it or acknowledged its potential but, thanks to the exploded adoption of the Internet, online gambling has turned into a business worth billions of dollars. It is hard to pinpoint the year or location where online gambling originated first but it is commonly believed that the year was 1994 and this is when the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda passed its Free Trade and Processing act. This mainly benefited the countries in the Asia-pacific, i.e India, where active gambling is prohibited but there are no laws for online gambling. Hence, many Indians who can’t really go to a brick-mortar casino have turned towards the internet which allows them to compare Indian mobile casinos online and play at their will.

But, before understanding the current state of online gambling in various APAC countries, let’s quickly enlighten ourselves about the Asian markets where traditional gambling is legalised now, and clocking phenomenal growth rate each year.

Casinos in the Asia Pacific surpassing Las Vegas:

Currently, there are many gambling destinations in Asia-Pacific that generate more annual gambling revenue than the entire Las Vegas Strip combines. Many countries in the Asia pacific region have legalized casino gambling after witnessing the annual gambling revenue growth in the neighbouring countries. When Macau surpassed the annual gambling revenue of Las Vegas in 2006, it also encouraged many Asia Pacific countries to legalize more of casino gambling. The move also impacted people’s interesting in online gambling.

Macau was just the beginning; soon, many more countries surpassed Las Vegas in terms of annual gambling revenue. In 2012, Singapore’s annual gambling revenue surpassed that of Las Vegas Strip with only two casinos and by the end of 2013.

In 2006, the Chinese gambling market reaped the annual gambling revenue that was just $0.5 billion. Fast forward 2018, it is estimated that the gambling market in China – including Macau – would hit $40 billion this year – 6x than that of Las Vegas.

This sparked the potential legalization of gambling all across the Asia Pacific. As a result, Integrated resorts in Japan and massive expansion of gambling world in the Philippines began operating, by that time, Taiwan had already legalized gambling. While countries like India are already in arguments for legalizing gambling where culture is against casino gambling revenue but still happens illegally; legalizing it will only help generate more annual revenue for the country.  It is a great leap for a country to legalize it in 3 places in the country— Goa, Daman and Sikkim. But there are not any laws that govern online casinos and gambling. Hence, people fond of gambling resort to online gambling, which is the future anyway.

Online gambling in the Asia Pacific:

Call it a result of high population or cheaper rates than European countries, Asia is the largest gambling market right now. But this fact is for the brick and mortar institutions. Are there some tendencies for the growth of the online gambling market or not, is still a subject to discussion. Online gambling not only requires a nation’s ability to be high technology— smartphones and tablets, it also requires new rules and regulations. Since the online gambling market keeps its pace with each passing year, the future is optimistic. And, that the reason, the adoption of this new phenomenon is the only option.

The global online gambling market is estimated to grow at CAGR of 11% between 2018 and 2022, resulting in over $35 billion in incremental growth. What’s even more surprising is that 44% of this growth will come from the APAC region alone. The exploded adoption of mobile internet is one of the key factors behind such unprecedented growth in the region. With the growing popularity of bitcoins, many online vendors are adopting gambling with the use of bitcoins as a currency.

China:

Although there are many forms of betting available in China, some of them are still illegal — such as mah-jongg, poker, casino games and sports betting with non-approved sites are forbidden. Although most of the online gambling is illegal in China, it is still very popular in the country. Players use internationally licensed websites for betting options and online casino games. Many players take a trip for a day or two to Macau where most gambling activities, land-based and online, are allowed.

Macau:

Widely addressed as “Vegas on Steriods“, Macau has different government and laws, even though it is a part of China. Macau has legal Land-based casinos, sports betting and poker but it doesn’t acknowledge online gambling, that is, Macau does not licence online gaming. So, online gambling is not regulated in the region which, for most of the part, translates into online gambling is legal. You can bet online without worries. Online gambling is illegal in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, so, these are the main regions that provide players to Macau.

Singapore

Singapore has blocked many offshore gambling websites in the country and declared it as a criminal offence to gamble online on an unauthorized site. The new Remote Gambling Act prohibits, remote gambling service advertisements, gambling services and remote gambling promotion and only allows online gambling services to be provided by local non-profit operators.

Japan

Online gambling is not allowed and every kind of gambling is restricted and controlled. The only gambling activities, legally permitted, are a lottery, scratch cards, pari-mutuel betting on horse racing, bicycle and motorcycle racing, powerboat racing, and soccer to wagers. However, people still visit foreign gambling sites and the government is finding it difficult to deal with it. Online betting for the lottery, football and public sports is allowed using the official channels. For more complex betting, international sites are preferred.

Indonesia

Being governed by Islamic law, most gambling activities are strictly prohibited. Free Licensed lottery is the only kind of legal gambling. But still many people indulging in online gambling, sports betting and table games. There is not much to be done to prohibit Indonesian citizens from accessing international or local gambling websites.

India

Despite being one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, India has restricted Gambling, albeit the online market is still growing. The only legal gambling activities are horse racing and lotteries. There is not any clear law that explicitly state rules for online gambling, so, it is unclear what would be the future of online gambling in the country. The only two states that have introduced specific legislation for online gambling are Maharashtra and Sikkim. In Maharashtra, online gambling is prohibited and in Sikkim, the government now has the authority to issue licenses to operators.

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