Asia iGaming Overview 2020

By March 7, 2020September 1st, 2020Gaming

The Asian iGaming market is building itself as a leading region in the gambling sphere, generating a substantial share of the world’s gambling revenue. By 2021, The iGaming industry is predicted to be worth more than 174 billion U.S. dollars. In 2019, it was estimated that revenue from the games in the Asian market alone stretched to 72.2 billion U.S. dollars. Within the Asia Pacific region, China, Japan, and South Korea lead the gaming markets.

Legislations Overview

Asia is one of the biggest gambling markets in the world, although this is not a surprising fact, considering residents of Asia present more than 60% of the world’s population. As the igaming industry continues to grow and expand, all eyes are turned onto the next market. Yet, tackling unique regions with different social and regulative needs is always a channel.

China Aside from state-run lotteries, gambling is only legal in Macau and Hong Kong
Japan A recently-passed bill will legalize casino games in 3 Integrated Resorts. Lotteries and some forms of sports betting are legal, but gambling overall is strictly controlled.
Singapore Two casinos share a duopoly. Two other organizations control lotteries and sports betting.
The Philippines Casinos are licensed through PAGCOR, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, as well as by a few special economic zone authorities.
India Gambling is only officially legal in a few select provinces. Legal status of poker is debated.
South Korea Most casinos are only for visiting foreigners. There is only one casino where South Koreans can gamble.
Vietnam For a long time, only foreign passport holders could gamble in Vietnam, but in the past few years the government has been experimenting with legalization.
Cambodia Gambling is illegal for Cambodian citizens, but illegal gambling is widespread.
Malaysia The few casinos that exist in Malaysia can only cater to foreign clientele.
Taiwan Poker and casinos are illegal, but land-based sports betting is allowed. Online casino games are illegal, but online sports betting is allowed.

The Asian iGaming market is building itself as a leading region in the gambling sphere, generating a substantial share of the world’s gambling revenue. By 2021, The iGaming industry is predicted to be worth more than 174 billion U.S. dollars. In 2019, it was estimated that revenue from the games in the Asian market alone stretched to 72.2 billion U.S. dollars. Within the Asia Pacific region, China, Japan, and South Korea lead the gaming markets.

Online Gambling in Asia: A Fast Track Overview


There are many forms of betting in China, like sports, lottery and various slot machines. Some of them, such as mahjong, poker, casino games and sports betting with non-approved sites are forbidden and Chinese Sports Lottery has a monopoly on all sports betting in mainland China.

However, operators, promoters, agents and junkets (not players) are tracked down by the authorities. 

For land-based casino games, most big players in China prefer to travel for one day or two to Macau, where most gambling activities, land-based and online, are allowed.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong permits certain forms of gambling, as long as they are managed by the government-sponsored Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKKC), such as horse races, football matches and lottery.

Mahjong is another gambling activity that is allowed to operate in Hong Kong and poker appears to be in a gray area, still running in an underground manner. Any other gambling activity is illegal and harsh penalties are applied.


Gambling in Taiwan is regulated by strict laws and you can bet on the Taiwan Sports Lottery, the only source for legally betting sports in the country.

Since odds are not great, bettors prefer online gambling websites that offer Mahjong, baccarat, slots, Chinese chess, sports, casino and in-play gaming, and much better odds.

As in the neighboring countries, Taiwanese people prefer international websites and regional ones, which support the local language. Though not easy to place money online, you can find a method that works for gambling websites deposits, like EntroPay or Skrill.


Macau is a Special Administrative Region with a different government and laws. It is officially part of China, but it has its capitalist administration and federal system. In Macau, land-based casinos, sports betting, and poker are allowed. It doesn’t address, license, or even acknowledge online gambling. For online casino operators, Macau does not license online gaming operations.

Since it is not regulated, online gambling is not forbidden and you can bet online without worries


The Philippines is a comparably developed gaming market with many forms of gambling accessible. The Philippines holds a very clear approach to online gambling. There are two distinct areas for gambling purposes: the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), which operates all land-based and online casinos, bingo, sports betting, and betting companies and is the sole authorized gambling operator in the country, and the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport which is the only region in the Philippines that is not under PAGCOR monopoly.

For companies looking to set up a gambling company in Asia, the Philippines is a very valuable gaming license to hold. Although it’s more expensive than other licenses, the taxation system is beneficial for international companies. A full license, covering both online casino and sportsbooks, includes a new application fee of $40,000 and an additional $48,000 per year for sportsbook operations payable upon license issuance. The renewal fee is $40,000.

The Philippines iGaming sector is anticipated to grow extensively in the coming years and to continue generating large revenues.the Philippines is assumed to be the fastest-growing gaming jurisdiction in Asia, with the total size of the market predicted to reach $2.7 billion in 2015, from $2.05 billion registered in 2014.


Gambling as a whole is banned in Singapore. Just recently, Singapore has blocked hundreds of offshore gambling sites and it has become a criminal offense to gamble online on an unauthorized site.

The new Remote Gambling Act, which came into effect this past October, prohibits gambling services, remote gambling service advertisements and remote gambling promotion and only allows online gambling services to be provided by local non-profit operators.


In Japan, online gambling is not allowed and gambling as a whole is quite strongly restricted and controlled. The only gambling activities legally permitted are lottery, scratch cards, pari-mutuel betting on horse racing, bicycle and motorcycle racing, powerboat racing, and soccer toto wagers.

The government cannot prevent people from reaching international gambling sites. Despite strong restraints, sports betting and gambling are very popular. Online betting is allowed by the Japanese authorities for lottery, football and public sports, but it is only for pari-mutuel betting with the official channels.

For more complex betting options, such as betting fixed odds, live sports, casino, poker, etc, international gambling sites are preferred.


Online gambling is banned in Vietnam and all sorts of gambling, except state lottery, are illegal. There are strict punishments and penalties for people who place wagers or involve in different ways of online gambling. Comparable to the nearby nations, international and local betting websites are simple to access and local authorities do not seek to block them.


Due to the strict Islamic law governing the country – where more than 90% are Muslims – most gambling ventures are strictly banned. The only type of legalized gambling is the free licensed lottery.

Though despite the government’s attempts to ban online gambling, sports betting and table games are extremely common in the country and there is little to be done to prevent Indonesian citizens from entering foreign or local gambling websites.

South Korea

South Korea, gambling activities are banned. Even more, it is a crime for Koreans to gamble outside the borders. Although, some state-controlled gambling activities are permitted, like horse racing, lottery and betting on some sports.

To encourage tourism activities, South Korea has 16 casinos where only tourists can enter. The only casino that allows South Koreans to gamble is Kangwon Land Resort & Casino, located in the northern part of the country.

Koreans can place bets (like many additional Asian countries, where gambling is illegal) on regional gambling sites that support easy payment options and a friendly Korean language interface. Using these sites, Koreans can bet on sports, casino games, poker, baccarat, roulette, blackjack, and mahjong.


Thailand is a country where gambling is regulated by multiple laws and though most of it is illegal, Thai people love gambling activities.

Thailand offers 2 forms of legal gamblinghorse races in Bangkok (which is usually addressed to high society) and the national lottery, which is a big deal all over the country and most people in the country can access it.

To satisfy the Thai demand for all sorts of gambling, there are casinos in Cambodia, Burma and Laos which can be visited by Thai citizens. Even more, they can play online and then visit personally the casinos from the neighboring countries to collect their money.

As for online gambling, which is highly popular, the Thai can place their bets on websites that are licensed and legal in other countries, such as the Philippines or UK, preferring sports betting, casino games and online poker.

Thai players prefer local bookies because they offer localized interfaces and much easier payment options. 


Malaysia is a country with a 60% Muslim population, which is subject to the Sharia law that forbids gambling activities. This prohibition applies to both the local Muslim population, but also to Muslim tourists that visit the country. Still, there are legal forms of gambling that apply to Chinese minority (1/3 of the population) and tourists, which are not of Muslim faith.

Online gambling is possible by using overseas gambling websites, from Philippines and UK. To make things easier, players can transfer money online or at an ATM machine by bank transfer as many banks are available. The main gambling websites used by locals are licensed in Philippines and offer poker, casino games, sports, etc. and in Europe, which provide global coverage and a vast array of sports and casino games, like online slots, baccarat, blackjack, roulette or live casino and poker.


India is experiencing a rapid growth of its online gambling market, although gambling as a whole is very restricted across the country. Horse racing and lotteries are the only fully legal gambling activities.

India’s online gambling market consistent increase in the past years is mainly due to the growth of the middle class and the spread of Internet access across the country. At this moment, cricket is the most bet on sport in India and most punters choose regional websites that provide easy payment options.

Two states in India have introduced specific legislation related to online gambling. In Maharashtra, online gambling is completely prohibited, while in Sikkim the government now has the authority to issue licenses to operators wishing to provide online gambling services within the state.

Recently, a new law – Foreign Exchange Management Act – has been imposed, which points out that online payment on gambling sites must be done in Rupees. Nevertheless, most players choose to use an electronic wallet, such as Skrill, PayPal and Neteller.

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