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iGaming In Emerging Markets – Facts And Stats

Global gaming operators looking for new markets to conquer may find there are more opportunities for igaming in emerging markets than developed ones. Asian, African and South American markets all present attractive expansion opportunities for iGaming brands. If your business is looking for global growth, these facts and stats provide some useful background.

Internet Penetration In Emerging Markets

A crucial factor in whether an emerging market is viable or not, is Internet usage / penetration. The new 2018 Global Digital suite of reports from We Are Social and Hootsuite, make interesting reading…

Internet penetration in Asia:

  • 50% Central Asia
  • 65% Western Asia
  • 57% Eastern Asia
  • 58% South East Asia
  • 36% Southern Asia

Internet penetration in Africa:

  • 49% Northern Africa
  • 39% Western Africa
  • 12% Central Africa
  • 27% Eastern Africa
  • 51% Southern Africa

Internet penetration in South America = 68%

internet penetration in africa, asia and south america

Although Internet penetration rates are still low across Central Africa and Southern Asia these regions are also seeing the fastest growth in Internet adoption. Internet users in Africa are up 20% year-on-year, with users in Mali increasing by almost 6 times since January 2017.

Mobile Internet Stats

For many markets, smartphones are driving Internet penetration making digital entertainments and iGaming accessible to people for the first time. Globally, mobile phones have overtaken desktop and laptops to take 52% of web traffic. That’s up 4% on last year. However, in emerging markets mobile web traffic has a much larger share, as the statistics below reveal:

  • 83% Kenya
  • 81% Nigeria
  • 79% India
  • 78% Singapore
  • 75% Ghana
  • 72% Indonesia
  • 71% South Africa
  • 69% Thailand

emerging markets mobile web traffic

Mobile Game Players In Emerging Markets

According to data aggregated by mobile marketing company Tenjin, the following 5 countries are the most important for mobile gaming operators:

1: Brazil
Number of mobile game players: 50 million
Smartphone penetration: 37.7%

2: Mexico
Number of mobile game players: 33.8 million
Smartphone penetration: 40.7%

3: India
Number of mobile game players: 244 million
Smartphone penetration: 22.4%

4: Indonesia
Number of mobile game players: 35 million
Smartphone penetration: 20.7%

5: Thailand
Number of mobile game players: 17.6 million
Smartphone penetration: 40.5%

gaming penetration statistics

iGaming in Emerging Markets – Additional Considerations

If these statistics have increased your appetite for expanding into emerging markets, it’s important to ensure that you have expert support. There are a number of considerations to address. These include:

  • Bandwidth – high mobile usage rates and smartphone penetration may be very attractive but in many emerging markets bandwidth is limited and that could mean your gaming apps and gaming websites do not function effectively.
  • Regulations – although many emerging markets issues licenses for land-based betting and gaming activities, online gaming is often unregulated. Operators must be comfortable with the risks and be aware of the impact of entering grey markets on existing licences. For example, the UK Gambling Commission states that if a single grey market contributes more than 3% of total revenue, a legal opinion is need to determine whether online gaming is legal in that country.
  • Payments – it is essential to have an in depth understanding of payments in each market. Including what payment methods gaming customers use, what the fraud risk is, compliance factors etc. Work with payment providers that have experience in the market and in online gaming.


E-wallets and payment apps offer gaming customers and global operators a convenient payment method, and are popular in emerging markets. They are particular useful in countries where many people are ‘unbanked’ – where customers do not have a conventional bank account. With the growth in smartphone ownership and Internet penetration many gaming customers are used to making payments using mobile apps like M-Pesa in Kenya. Alternative payment methods, such as e-wallets and payment apps, are an important part of any strategy for processing online payments in emerging markets.

If you would like to discuss any of the subjects touched on above, and specifically about how to reach customers in emerging markets by aligning payment methods with your growth strategy, please get in touch.

You may also like to explore how we have developed our payment app – MuchBetter – specifically for the gaming industry. More here.

Read more by Jens Bader