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Online gambling market in Southeast Asia: insights from EvenBet Gaming CEO 

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EvenBet Gaming CEO Dmitry Starostenkov shares strategies for tapping into the Asian market market.

Press release.- Online gambling is rapidly growing in Southeast Asia. Being one of the complex geographies for market entry, Statista projects it to reach a billion-dollar revenue in 2024, totalling USD1.23bn, with an average revenue per user expected to reach USD 207.90 by the same year.

Dmitry Starostenkov, the CEO of EvenBet Gaming, shares his insights on business licensing, cultural dynamics, and marketing approaches. Additionally, we’ll talk about how to overcome market entry challenges and why it is worth it.

Gaming preferences

It’s crucial to acknowledge that Southeast Asia surpasses many regions in the number of non-standard games, which are unknown yet outside. Live dealer games hold a significant share. In addition to globally recognised poker variations such as Hold’em and Omaha, they also have traditional local card games:
Big 2; Badugi Guandan – a family game which is gaining popularity in both online and offline casinos, earning a stature comparable to mahjong and blackjack. The situation is similar to Rummy in India, which was also a family game but started to capture the market in the region. Perhaps, the same can be repeated with Guandan.

At the same time, prevailing scepticism toward online gaming among people in Asia still exists. They do not trust online software due to illegal “black” schemes. While it’s true that people working with certified random number generators, like EvenBet software, ensure fair play, this assurance primarily extends to the strictly regulated sector. The average individual often prefers the security of land-based casinos and has doubts about online software.

This scepticism has fueled the rise of remote gaming formats, wherein local casinos purchase slot machines that players can reserve online and operate remotely, observed via camera feed.

Challenges of market entry

One eye-opening insight was the way people connect with each other, which is quite different from Europe. Breaking into the Asian market requires more than online advertisements. It is valuable to establish personal contacts with local businesses, often facilitated through intermediary services and closed-door discussions. Additionally, it’s important to remember that they prefer to listen rather than initiate the conversation.

Plus, the language issue is indeed challenging. Communication among people from various countries can be difficult due to the complexity of Asian languages, even between neighbouring countries. Anyway, English is regarded with particular significance in this region as a language for international interactions.

Sales and payment issues

Face-to-face sales are crucial here, as evidenced above. Services of intermediaries who connect software providers with operators are in high demand. They usually meet at private events to discuss matters in person. According to the payments, it might be difficult to withdraw money from Asia, so there are lots of different payment options available in the market to help with this issue.

Legal landscape and regulatory hurdles

The unclear legal regulations in online gambling in Asia cause either prohibiting online gambling or significant pressure and mistrust. Many people who earn well in this business do so illegally and prefer not to draw attention to themselves. It is also one of the key factors why local industry leaders participate less in international events.

The good thing is the major trends show that regulated gaming will grow and spread. During the HOT 100 SE Asian Gaming Edition, one of the main statements was made to the inevitableness of this process. As an example, legal iGaming is booming in the Philippines. But in countries like Vietnam, where land-based casinos are allowed, online gambling is still banned.

In places where it’s permitted, operators are cautious about Chinese users. Many Chinese players use VPNs to access games, causing money to flow out of the country leading to dissatisfaction from Chinese authorities. Operators used to focus on Chinese traffic, but with China cracking down on financial transactions, they’re seeking new markets.

Market dynamics and player behaviour

Asia is a vast region with regulations that differ from country to country. If you search on Google for the top GEOs for gambling in Asia, you’ll see Indonesia and Malaysia, where gambling is illegal. Despite this fact, the large population and demand tempt operators to explore these markets in a social casino and club format.

Online gambling is also experiencing significant growth in the Philippines. However, the absence of responsible gambling measures poses a risk to the industry’s advancement. This situation could potentially escalate social tensions and prompt stricter regulations or even a complete ban.
The situation in Cambodia is quite interesting. Online gambling is legal, but casinos with valid licences utilise it due to pressure from China.

In conclusion, even with a lack of regulations and challenges in market entry, the igaming industry in Asia is proliferating, offering new perspectives to the gambling industry. Due to the vast region, every country offers its local games, which have the potential to grow to a world-renowned level. Moreover, it’s expected to improve further, so getting involved is a good idea. However, understanding the nuances of the market is imperative for anyone aiming to establish a business in this region.

EvenBet Gaming has been developing poker software for igaming since 2004, including around 40 card games adapted for various regions, as well as an online platform with the ability to connect over 10,000 diverse games, including slots and live dealer games. The software is equipped with tools for KYC and responsible gaming and is certified for legal operation in markets of dozens of countries.

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