Research: Asian Sportsbooks

Legal Landscape of the Region

China*Illegal, except via state-run sitesYes
IndiaProbably legalYes
Hong Kong SARIllegal, except via state-run sitesYes
Macau SARLegalYes
MalaysiaProbably legalYes
PhilippinesIllegal, except via state-run sitesYes
SingaporeIllegal, except via state-run sitesYes, but very few
South KoreaProbably legalYes
ThailandIllegal, except via state-run sitesYes

* The laws of mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) prohibit almost all forms of gambling, including online sports betting. The only exceptions are government-run gambling terminals and lotteries. The Chinese government has taken steps to restrict access to online betting sites, though many residents have found ways around this (usually by purchasing a VPN) and many online sportsbooks hosted in foreign countries offer their services to people in China.

Key Factors in Asians Choosing a Sportsbook

Safety/Anonymity: Since so many countries in Asia render it illegal to use offshore sportsbooks, finding a site that will keep personal information secure and can process transactions in a way that doesn’t hand over banking details to third parties is often a big concern.

Accessibility: Accessibility is about more than just bare access. Users want to be able to log-in from anywhere these days, no matter the time of day or the platform. It’s becoming increasingly common for bettors to make wagers on their mobile devices anytime in a day.

Ease of Use: Does the sportsbook have a user-friendly look? Does it offer support services in users’ preferred language? Is it clear how to deposit and withdraw? All above will affect how enjoyable their experience is.

How Do Chinese Residents Deposit & Withdraw?

The authorities strictly regulate and block financial transactions with online sportsbooks. As with many countries in Asia, the best option for Asian bettors is likely an e-wallet such as 「Neteller」 or 「Skrill」. And for Chinese bettors, the option is likely the two dominated online payments, 「WeChat Pay」 and 「AliPay」 (China version of 「Paypal」 or 「Square」).

Asian Sportsbook Business Model Landscape

In Asia, the betting market is quite large but uncoordinated. However, in early 2017, the Asian sector has become a leader in the field of global betting, and it continues to hold the leading positions. According to statistics, 40% of bets in the world are placed in Asia. The bookmaker’s list in the Asian betting market is growing every year, and so far, the players’ demand outpaces supply.

Asian bookmakers, like their colleagues from other regions of the world, mostly work under offshore licenses from the Philippines, the Isle of Man, Macau, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

The policy of the Eastern bookmaker’s offices is different from the Western, so they have gained a certain reputation that allows them to attract professional betters from all over the world. For example, in Asia, they do not have limits of bets for experienced players who carry out their analysis.

European Bookmakers | 1X2 Bets | Fixed Odds

This is the oldest model. These bookmakers simply offer odds on matches and customers can bet on these events. This model is more profitable for European bookmakers and crush 98%+ of the people who are using them not only because this is not a fair model (they take huge margins on the odds) but also only allow small or losing players to bet with them. Winners are not welcome, specially not if they bet big and understand how to exploit their entire model.

Here is an example of a 1X2 bet on a Champions League math from Bet365. FC Barcelona wins @ 1.16 / Draw @ 7.00 / Boavista FC wins @ 20.00, we can figure out the margin, (1/1.16)+(1/7.00) + (1/20.00) = 1.0549 (The 5.49% is the margin).

The reason they are also called 1×2 or Fixed odds bookmakers is because they mainly focus on Win-Draw-Lose outcomes and the odds are not directly affected by money that is being bet. They also offer a very big variety of special bets like over-under, correct score, both teams to score, goalscorers and so on. These types of bets are charged with bigger profit margin. Bookmakers in this category are nearly all the bookmakers the big betting public know. Some of the European 1×2 bookmakers are Unibet, Bet365, Ladbrokes, William Hill, bwin. Since these bookmakers allow no big winning players, they don’t have to fear huge losses. This is their weak point as odds adjustment often is slow and can be exploited.


These types of bookmakers directly link players and charge a commission for their services and do not risk losing money in the process. Betfair™ and Matchbook are the biggest examples. Exchanges like Betfair™ are mostly used for sports trading since the commission fee only is charged on the net winnings.

Though exchanges are getting popular globally, Asian players still love fixed odds plus Asian handicap which will be explained as below.

Asian Bookmakers | Asian Handicap | Dynamic Odds

These types of bookmakers offer a newer model that is much fairer overall. Unlike 1×2 bookmakers, they focus on Asian handicaps to offer 50%-50% type bets on a football match which allows then to offer dynamic lines that move directly based on the money that comes in. For example, if 50%-50% odds are Home 1.952 – Away 1.952 and I bet let’s say 1000€ on the home side the odds will instantly change to 1.892-2.01. This way they created a self-regulating system where the market sets the price. They allow for bigger bets and winning players are welcome as they help them set the lines correct. The way they make profit is by having huge turnovers which allows them to only changer small margins compared to the European business model. A side effect is that most of the times the odds are set very tight. Another important to know is that big money always comes into the Asian market first and the European market adjust their odds based on the this a tiny bit later. The most used Asian bookmakers are Pinnacle, SBOBET, ISN, 188Bet

How Asian Handicaps work? Asian handicaps work like handicaps in NBA or NFL with the only difference that sometimes there is a “half win” or a “half loss” where part of the stake is returned. The over / under lines work in a similar way. It might be confusing at first, but it will become clear and easy to understand as the picture below.

7 differences about the Asian Sportsbook (compares to European)

  1. Their traders take positions in games and keep the prices. Others just follow the market. This also means that most of these Asian sportsbooks attract many arbitrage activities, they do not block professional gamblers who place only bets without risks.
  2. Websites are simple, user friendly and usually available in more Asian languages: English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai and sometimes Japanese even.
  3. Have more focus on the Asian Handicap market.
  4. Lower margin (maybe lowest) and average odds are much higher than traditional books.
  5. Football odds are extremely competitive, they offer high limits and allow the duplication of the selected outcomes. However, the prices for the other sports are not the best.
  6. 24-hour customer support via email, telephone and Live Chat in Chinese.
  7. They never bar from the withdrawal of winnings, no matter how large they may be.

Asian Sportsbook Types

Landed Shops: Asian Bookmakers such as Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), Macau Jockey Club (MJC) or Macau Slot, have dozens landed shops in Hong Kong and Macau. There are also thousands landed shops in China which they all belong to the state-owned 「China Sport Lottery」.

Cash Site: Players can bet with the exact amount of their deposits only, no credits allowed. These types of bookmakers values chances of sponsoring a well-known European football club because they will need to strength their credibility in order to build bettors’ trust for more deposits.

Credit Site: Players can bet within a certain amount of credits; this usually go with high-stake bettors and the credits are authorized by their affiliates.

Affiliate Attitude

Affiliates may be the most important key element to a bookmaker’s success in Asia. The affiliate offerings can be very aggressive among different competitors. Bookmakers never set limits on how much money affiliates can make with them, they all share the same consensus: whoever get more affiliates’ help wins.

Common affiliate offerings are revenue shares, acquisition bonus, referral commission of affiliates (possible pyramid affiliate structure), deposit commission and so on.

Speaking of which, Singbet, one of the biggest private bookmakers in Asia offers the most football leagues and events both pre-match and in-play and it operate a 「shareholder」 business model, which pays-out lucrative commissions and rewards to agents. Minimum 45% position taking for the agents, i.e. only 45% of the bet staked is valid.

You can enter the Asian sports betting market if you have a partner that is worth to be trusted, and who understands the specifics of the region. You also need to understand the features of the promotion, the needs of the audience, deal with financial issues very carefully and avoid all the pitfalls.