After the tumultuous nature of 2020, thankfully, 2021 was a little less unpredictable. The online gambling sector continued to grow, and many new players, both in terms of consumers and operators, entered the market. At Fast Offshore, we experienced an influx of requests from operators looking to expand into new markets and emerging regions. We also assisted many entrepreneurs in launching mobile-based iGaming sites and those integrating new technologies. Here is a look back at some of the news that shaped the year, but that also gave us a glimpse of what is to come in 2022.
2021 was an exciting year for online gambling in Latin America. In the first quarter, Buenos Aires, an autonomous region of Argentina, granted seven online gambling licenses to several established brands. These included Playtech, William Hill, Bet365, and 888 Holdings. The license is costly, coming in at $768,000 upfront, a $100,000 annual renewal fee, and a 25% gross revenue tax.
Meanwhile, popular gambling game maker BGaming created a “strategic alliance” with Jazz Gaming Solutions. They entered the LatAm market and increased the number of games on offer. This was yet another signal that the region is something of a sleeping giant for the iGaming sector.
It was also an exciting year for the Asia-Pacific region. A report published by researchandmarkets.com found that the market there was the fastest-growing during 2021 and was set to continue on this trajectory. In particular, sports betting experienced a boom in the region, outstripping casinos, lottery, and bingo. Going forward, APAC will take the lions’ share of growth, making it an important area for investors to consider in 2022.
All about regulations
The British Gambling Commission shocked operators when it introduced new restrictions for the iGaming sector. They clamped down on spin speeds and completely prohibited speeding up play or losses being considered as a win. In addition, sites must ensure players have access to statistics on losses and wins and all times. The rules came into force on 31 October 2021.
In November, the Malta Gambling Authority moved to streamline gambling regulations, further simplifying the licensing process. Following a similar streamlining in 2018, additional changes include key function roles. Some roles have been eliminated while others have been combined, lessening the burden on licensees.
New markets abound
2021 was a year of new markets and new potential. In the Netherlands, the remote gambling act came into force in April and saw the granting of a fair number of licenses to established brands. Licensing requirements are demanding and include a strict approach to customer monitoring, self-exclusion, and fair play. The Dutch regulator also can monitor gameplay itself.
In Germany, the Treaty on Gambling came into force on 1 July following years of back and forth between lawmakers and the industry. It paves the way for online poker, slots, and sports betting. Acquiring a license remains a complex process, and applicants must provide a complete financial breakdown, lots of paperwork and be based in the EU or EAA.
Ireland also took steps towards new laws regulating the online gambling sector. The proposed legislation includes a gambling authority and a self-exclusion register. The Gambling Regulation bill aims to modernise the sector through laws updated for the digital age. Currently, Ireland does not have any specific online gambling laws. The move was welcomed by industry stakeholders who said it was an important milestone and provided companies with certainty for the future.
Also, in 2021, Esports Entertainment Group, which was on quite a shopping spree during the year, bought Swedish company, Bethard, for EUR 22 million. The motive behind the purchase was strategic, to enable expansion into markets in Spain and Sweden.
A bad year for Malta
It was not an excellent year for the EU’s smallest member state, Malta. A hub for online gambling and blockchain, it was rocked by two significant problems during 2021. A mafia scandal in the first half of the year pointed to overwhelming links between Italian organised crime and the online gambling sector in Malta. Regulator, the Malta Gaming Authority found itself facing accusations it was aware of some of the illegal activity reported. This came following the former head of the body being prosecuted for corruption less than two years before.
A few months later, Malta became the first EU member state placed on the FATF grey list over money-laundering concerns. Despite warm reviews in its MONEYVAL evaluation, the FATF plunged the country into enhanced monitoring in June. This caused problems for many gambling operators and payment providers who were based or were thinking of being based there. Not only does it make the Malta gambling license a little less reputable, but it risks over-regulation as the authorities try to get their house in order before FATF review.
Positive predictions all round
There was lots of good news in iGaming during 2021. One example was a report that found 77% of online gambling executives feel optimistic about the future. They also thought that the sector would continue growing quickly and that land-based gambling would decline. When it comes to the most significant growth areas, Latin America was mentioned as one of the leading possibilities, along with Africa. As for technologies, AI, mobile gambling, digital currencies, and progressive apps were all mentioned.
Some of these findings were supported by those from Sweden-based tech company Evolution. They projected that online gambling revenue would soon surpass land-based. CEO Martin Carlesund said, “Physical casinos could provide perhaps 50, 40, 30% or less of revenue over the next 15 years. The biggest driver for growth is likely to be innovation and emerging technology.”
A leading industry data provider, HR Gambling Capital, added that the market could swell to over $283 million by 2036 at a CAGR of 9%. They predict that online gambling sites will account for more than 50% of the market share over the next 10 years.
Get your iGaming business started
At Fast Offshore, we expect 2022 to be even bigger and better than 2021. If you are considering entering the online gambling sector, we encourage you to take the step now. For all of your corporate service needs, including company incorporation, licensing, payments, and structuring, we are here to help.
With 24 years of experience in iGaming, we know precisely how to help and guide you through the process. We can also assist with compliance and ongoing maintenance, should you require. For information on our custom packages or turnkey solutions, delivered with the utmost professionalism and transparency, contact Fast Offshore today.