Ron Mendelson is the Director of Costa-Rica based International Business & Corporate Services consultancy firm, Fast Offshore. With over 24 years of real-world experience in iGaming Licensing and Payments, Regulatory Compliance, Tax-Efficient Corporate Structuring, Incubator and other Hedge Fund Licenses, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency related services, he advises a number of international clients on their business needs in the Americas, Europe, and beyond.
In his latest column for Yogonet, iGaming industry consultant Ron Mendelson shares insights on the Asian gambling landscape, analyzing a surge in online activity and preferred offerings and devices. The expert also tackles India's impact on the market, and the role technology is called to play within the region.
A surge in the number of online gamblers in Asia is acting as a key facilitator in the region's growth. According to data from e-Conomy, as many as 40 million Singaporeans, Malaysians, Vietnamese, Indonesians, Filipinos, and Thais went online for the first time in 2020, and they are here to stay. This brings the total number of internet users in the region to over 400 million and counting.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the sector in the region, as it did in other markets. This happened as restrictions were brought into place on socialising, leisure activities, and access to in-person casinos. This drove forward an interest in online entertainment, and iGaming flourished. Millions turned to online casinos and gambling sites to keep themselves occupied and even socialise. This extraordinary situation, combined with easy access to mobiles and the internet, created something of a perfect storm. Lasting almost two years, this situation changed the face of iGaming and accelerated growth at a rate that otherwise would have taken several years.
Regarding device preferences, the Asian market is still a fan of traditional desktop devices. The tide, however, is changing. As smartphones become more affordable and thus more accessible, they are growing in popularity as gambling devices. As more players switch to mobiles, operators are incentivised to develop more mobile options, including apps and progressive apps. Likely, the increased prevalence of smartphones and an increase in gambling apps will give a significant boost to revenues over the next five years.
In terms of game and betting preference, poker remains a firm favourite throughout the region, both video poker and live dealer poker. It holds most of the market share and is likely to continue in this way, driven by a widespread fan base in India and China, the world’s most populous countries at one billion-plus each. Sports betting also remains popular in line with other regions, in particular soccer, horse racing, and US sporting events such as NFL and NBL. Video slots make up another large percentage of the market share, and eSports, which is particularly popular in China.
What is driving growth is a combination of digitally mobile users, the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath, as well as easier access to smartphones and the internet. This combined with a new generation who are looking for digital and on-demand entertainment has significantly boosted the market.
India is the world’s second-most populous country, with over a billion inhabitants. A developing middle class, low-cost internet, access to smart devices, and the rollout of 5g networks are all driving forward iGaming in the country. India is set to become one of the world’s key players in the online gambling sector.
Overall, poker reigns supreme, but there is significant headway being made by sports betting, eSports, and slots. Like other regions, live dealer games are set to become even more in demand as people continue to demand socialising and entertainment online. Finally, the Asian market is particularly interested in the increased use of technologies in offerings. For example, cryptocurrency gambling, VR and AR, and the use of AI will be drivers of growth in the region in the future.
If you are looking to start an online gambling company or want to expand into new markets, Fast Offshore can help. We have over 24 years of experience helping our clients achieve their business goals. While we don't get hands-on in terms of the site, we are critical behind the scenes. Fast Offshore assists with incorporation, licensing, compliance, payments, structuring and all ongoing maintenance necessary to keep your business running smoothly. Find out how we can help you take your vision to the next level.