Asian Racing Federation finds 61% of online gambling sites are illegal

Some 97 per cent of customers gambled at an unlicensed gambling site in Asia.
Some 97 per cent of customers gambled at an unlicensed gambling site in Asia.

A report found that out of 534 online casino and sports betting domains, less than 40 per cent were licensed and regulated.

Hong Kong.- A new report by the Asian Racing Federation focuses on the proliferation of illegal and unlicensed gambling websites. The pan-Asian horseracing organisation analysed 534 online casino and sports betting domains in 61 jurisdictions and found that less than 40 per cent were licensed and regulated in their territories. 

The 94-page report states that the majority are operating illegally and taking advantage of “grey markets” that exist from Beirut to Brisbane. At least 262 of the surveyed websites were considered to be the most visited gambling sites in the period between 2019 and 2021.

The report classifies the sites into three categories. The first are those that are regulated by the jurisdiction in which they are licensed and are therefore considered “licensed and regulated.” The second are those licensed by a jurisdiction but classed as under-regulated as they take bets from people located outside of the jurisdiction, often from places where gambling is illegal. The third category covers site with no licence at all.

In terms of jurisdictions, the Asian Racing Federation found that the Philippines, Curacao and Malta were responsible for nearly two-thirds of the domains it determined to be operating in other territories illegally. The group found that Curacao accounted for 31 per cent, Malta 18 per cent and the Philippines 13 per cent. The exact number of websites in the latter is unknown.

“Philippines-licensed operators target bettors in Asia, where online betting is largely illegal or heavily restricted,” the report said. “Since Asian illegal betting is estimated by some to account for as much as 80 percent of the market, Philippines ‘licensed’ operators facilitate a large proportion of global illegal betting.”

The ARF found that traffic to “under-regulated” websites amounted to 6.78 billion visits. However, in terms of users and unique visitors, 97 per cent of customers went to illegal gambling sites at some point during the surveyed period, compared with 31 per cent on regulated sites and 28 per cent in the under-regulated category.

ARF said the use of casino junkets as an underground banking system had helped to fuel the growth of illegal gambling in Asia.

“As casinos and junkets have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is highly likely that casino customers have migrated to online betting and gambling,” it said. “For their part, the junkets have been compensating for the loss of revenue in their physical casino businesses by diversifying across Asia with casino investments in other countries, as well as further investments in online betting and gambling.”