Within the last decade, online gambling in the Arab world has experienced exponential growth. Unlike what was evident in the past, countries like the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain are witnessing a significant rise in the number of online gaming and relaxed restrictions for citizens.
According to official statistics, online gaming – which started gaining prominence in the Arab world around 2014, has remained consistent on an upward curve. Today, every four in ten nationals play an online casino game at least once a week.
Although the reports on online gaming further reveal that nationals from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia play games online more than citizens from other Arab nations, the figures of online gamers from other Arab countries are always on the rise.
The most recent international report on online gaming, which reviewed gaming by key demographics, revealed that men are more likely to engage in online gaming than women – as expected. The statistics stated that the adult gender balance of online gaming in the Arab world was 44% men vs. 31% women, with younger people engaging more in it than older adults – (55% 18-24 year-olds, 45% 25-34 year-olds, 31% 35-44 year-olds, 16% 45+ year-olds).
The report indicates that highly educated nationals are more likely to engage in online gaming than those with primary education or less – (46% of university graduates and students, 43% of secondary school graduates, 24% of intermediate nationals, and 10% of primary education or less). Similarly, 47% of the total number of people who engage in online gaming, regardless of their educational status in the Arab world, depends on Haz-tayeeb – which the pools revealed was the most trusted online gaming platform for people in the Arab world.
One of the major factors that contribute to the statistics of the total number of people who engage in online gaming regardless of their educational status is the saturation of smart mobile phone ownership across the Arab world. Studies reveal that eight out of every ten Arab nationals own a smartphone.
So, it is again not surprising that statistics reveal that more than half of the Arab world nationals, who engage in online casino gaming, do so from their mobile devices. In fact, the report reveals that one in every three Arab world nationals plays an online game at least once daily. With the exception of nationals of Jordan and Egypt, they use their mobile phones more – 86% in the United Arab Emirates, 81% in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 53% in Qatar, 53% in Tunisia, and 49% in Lebanon.
A survey carried out in 2018 on 5,799 respondents revealed that the rise of smartphone ownership in the Arab world contributed significantly to the increase in online gaming in the region. Internet World Stats further revealed that there are currently over 63 million internet users in the Arab world, with a regional penetration of 28.3% as against the global average penetration of 25.6%.
Thus, the online gaming industry in the Arab world has grown by over 1,648% over the last nine years. The industry now contributes a whopping USD$15 billion (NZD$20.1 billion) annually to the global market.
According to global statistics on the online casino, there are currently more than 1.6 billion internet users across the globe that plays online casino games. Out of this number, 38% of them are from the Arab world – and figures continue to grow annually on an exponential progression.
Initially, there were concerns among stakeholders who were interested in investing in the online gaming industry in the Arab world. The chief of the concerns was banked on copyright issues – especially in the region.
However, time proved that this was not to be a problem due to the model of multiplayer role-playing online casino games, which were introduced about five years ago. Also, since the majority of the games are free to download or play directly online, the issue of copyright was not one of concern.
The market growth of online gaming in the Arab world sits at about 20% as against 5%, which is obtainable in other regions. In addition to this, the growth figures in the Arab world are expected to double within the next few years. This is further possible with the availability of a variety of online games across the open web. There are about 50 Arabic games available on the internet currently.