A recent media report issued by the Asian Racing Federation claims that illegal gambling in Asia has no intention of leaving the market. The 94-page report, cited by Asia Gaming Brief, is focused on the massive growth of unlicensed and illegal online gambling platforms that are leading to more serious gambling-related harm, personal and financial data loss, as well as undermining the integrity of sports.
The aforementioned report focused on an overall of 534 gambling websites across 61 jurisdictions. After making an in-depth review, the Asian Racing Federation found that fewer than 40% of the 534 online gambling platforms were offering their services under an operating license and in line with the regulation of local authorities and watchdogs. The research also found that many of the surveyed online gambling platforms currently operate in so-called gray markets and are particularly focused on Asia, where gambling regulators usually act slowly to tackle illegal practices or often lack the resources to act against the companies that do not operate in line with the rules.
The surveyed websites were not picked by the Asian Racing Federation at random. The regional federation of horse racing organizations and authorities decided to focus on some of the most popular and trusted global brands. It revealed that more than 260 of the surveyed online gambling platforms were among the most visited gambling websites from 2019 to 2021, which is when the survey was held.
Furthermore, the final report of the Federation looked into a number of randomly chosen websites that could have been classified as unlicensed or illegal. The Asian Racing Federation eventually reported that the majority of the overall number of online gambling platforms that operate as unregulated ones have their operating permits issued by certain countries and their governing bodies, including the Philippines, Curacao, and Malta.
The Philippines, Malta and Curacao Found to Have Issued Licenses to Many Unregulated Websites
As revealed by the Asian Racing Federation, the percentage of unregulated gaming websites by share is mostly focused on the 3 aforementioned jurisdictions and their own licensing process, which could hardly be described as ideal. According to the Federation, about 31% of the total number of unregulated online gambling platforms were based in Curacao, followed by 18% that were based in Malta.
The latest report also focused on the Philippines, pointing out the country as what it called a “global facilitator” of unlawful gambling. The ARF’s report concluded that the Asian unregulated gambling operations may account for up to 80% but the exact percentage rate is difficult to confirm. The report established that almost 40 billion of the overall visits to online gambling platforms over the 2-year period of the survey were placed on websites operating in the grey market. These visits account for 76% of the overall traffic to gambling websites between 2019 and 2022.
According to the Asian Racing Federation, traffic to licensed but not sufficiently regulated online gambling platforms accounted for almost 6.80 billion of the overall traffic. When it comes to website users and unique visitors, almost all surveyed people (97%) visited illegal gambling websites at some point during the aforementioned period.
Illegal gambling operations have continued to develop rapidly over the period, with the revenue generated in a dishonest or illegal way providing such operators with the opportunity to focus more on their marketing and branding, the provision of better bonuses, and take advantage of the relaxed regulation of the overseeing body. According to the report, the so-called junket operators also bear part of the responsibility because they have helped the rapid growth of illegal gambling in the region.