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Overview of Asian gambling markets in 2023, part 2

Petr Stehlik
September 7, 2023
5 min

In part 1 we covered Eastern and Southeastern Asia, as well as the Indian subcontinent. Here, we’re going to look at Central and Western Asia, including markets like Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia.

Turkey

Turkey, officially secular but spiritually Muslim, forbids any forms of gambling except for those it itself offers: the state-owned Turkey Wealth Fund obtained a license for 49 years and is allowed to offer games of chance (Sisal Şans), betting (Spor Toto), and horse racing (Turkey Jockey Club) services to the local citizens.

The government attempts to block bank transactions and websites connected to offshore gambling brands, illegal gambling operators are prosecuted in the country, and players can also be fined. However, Turkish people have a strong will to play, and — as is common throughout the whole region — use cryptocurrency (47% of Turkish respondents to one survey own some form of cryptocurrency) and VPNs to access foreign online platforms, specially localized for them.

Georgia

Despite the national love for sports and cultural acceptance of gambling, Georgia faced some serious changes in the gambling legislation in 2022, and even stricter changes in 2023.

First, a law banning individuals under 25, public employees, socially vulnerable people, and self-excluded users from playing entered into force. Then, gambling advertisements in public media (TV and official websites) were banned, and the tax base was raised to 65-70%. The Law "On Payment System and Payment Services" has also been amended to include articles prohibiting Georgian payment service providers from taking payments from any foreign casino or sportsbook company.

Operators will also have to pay GEL 100,000 ($36,974) for every game they offer. The restrictions introduced are made to demonstrate the country's commitment to meeting the European Council’s 12-point conditions necessary to gain EU candidate status.

Even though these changes made running a gambling business more difficult in Georgia, there are still 12 licensed companies which are authorized to operate online platforms. Available betting products include betting, gaming machines, land-based casinos, and the lottery, which is a state monopoly.

Georgian players also visit foreign online casinos and bookmaker platforms and gamble using cryptocurrency.

Armenia

The Armenian gambling market is big. But while local players are more active than in many large gambling markets of the world, the government is unswayed by the level of demand.

There is no regulation or licensing system in the country. Moreover, authorities imposed stricter rules on the gambling industry in 2022, forbidding almost all types of advertisement — advertising will only be allowed in four- and five- star hotels, at border checkpoints, on the facade of buildings that offer gambling services, and on company websites.

All the above mentioned measures limit players’ opportunities, but foreign platforms still accept Armenians who are happy to spend their time in their favorite manner.

Azerbaijan

Gambling in Azerbaijan is illegal. Even though the majority of the population is secular, the government is concerned with the possibility of problem gambling spreading in the country. Azerbaijan players have a strong interest in betting and frequently visit foreign websites that are happy to localize their content for them. Besides, there is a little legal local offer.

There are two legal gambling verticals in Azerbaijan: lotteries run by a state company Azerloterya Open Joint Stock Company, and sports betting organized by a single authorized company monopolist Topaz.

Azerbaijanis like football, basketball, and hockey, but also sports particular to other regions, such as American and Australian football, and even the Finnish version of baseball — Pessapolo. Chess is another one of the most popular sports. Topaz also offers bets on floorball, futsal, and almost anything else you could think of, including esports.

Learn more about Asian gambling markets from our ebook avaliable here.

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is aware of potential income from the gambling industry and its influence on tourism and is experimenting with limited regulation. A bill suggesting the creation of special gambling land-based zones passed last year, and so far it’s the only clear regulation.

Only foreign citizens are allowed to play in new casinos, and locals enjoy a huge black market. They like football, wrestling, boxing, ice hockey, and horse racing. There’s also a growing interest in rugby.

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is another CIS country that became more interesting for gambling operators when Russia was cut off from international payment systems. Even though Uzbekistan is a Muslim country, it is a growing gambling market.

There were attempts to regulate the industry in 2022, but opinions were divided, and they failed, and the only legal vertical now is a state-owned lottery. Local players turned to offshore platforms.

This didn’t become a problem taking into account that Uzbek citizens can legally trade on cryptocurrency platforms, and they use a lot of social networks, including Telegram.

General trends

Asia is a region of contrast and a vast variety of cultures — and this includes different attitudes to gambling activities. Muslim countries are strictly negative about playing for money or prizes, while their neighbors have long traditions of gambling and even favorite games that have been played for generations.

Either way, people gamble. They find more sophisticated ways to do so in places where it’s forbidden: cryptocurrencies are extremely widespread in every region of Asia, as well as VPNs and simply traveling to countries where gambling is legal.

We recommend localizing your website and gaming content to the language of your target audience and offer your clients payment methods that suit their needs and requirements. Besides the classic payment cards, Asian players will expect e-wallets like ePay, Trustly, Neteller, Skrill, and various cryptocurrencies.

How can Slotegrator help?

Slotegrator offers a full range of services for online casino operators and bookmakers, including development of turnkey platforms. The new updated modules include Casino Builder for a sophisticated UX, Risk management tools, KYC module for a quick verification according to the regulators' requirements, and a newly updated BI module that uses AI to enable confidential comparison of your KPIs with your competitors.

Petr Stehlik
Petr Stehlik
Lawyer
In 2016, Petr graduated from the Law Faculty of Charles University in Prague. The main area of law on which he focused both during and after his university studies is software law (and intellectual property in general). After graduating, he briefly worked at a medium-sized law firm in Prague, but in 2018 he joined Slotegrator, where he has been working ever since and where he handles the company’s day-to-day legal matters.

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