Melvin Byres: Sports betting opportunities in Asia are endless

Melvin Byres: Sports betting opportunities in Asia are endless

In this interview with’s Stephanie Raquel, Melvin Byres of Business of Sport Network shares his thoughts on what sports betting operators should do before entering the Asian market.

From boxing matches in the Philippines to cricket games in India, Asia indeed is filled with lots of opportunities for sports betting operators.

Experts believe that Asia accounts for the lion’s share of the $2 trillion global legal and illegal betting industry. The good thing about the Asian sports betting market – particularly in Southeast Asia – is the fact that it is a relatively new space – at least on the legal side of things.

It was only this year that the conservative government of Vietnam finally allowed sports betting in the communist country, albeit limited only to football and horse and greyhound racing. Still, the development in Vietnam is victory nonetheless for many sports betting operators.

Melvin Byres of Business of Sport Network predicts that more Asian countries will soon follow Vietnam toward legalization of sports betting.

“I think it is only a matter of time. We see Vietnam saying that they are going to finally allow sports betting in a very, regulated matter. And that’s obviously the way to go. Because when you over over-regulate something or prohibited completely, people will find a way around it,” Byres told “It is better to allow it and to regulate it. So Vietnam made the first step by allowing it in a very controlled way and I think other markets will follow soon.“

Byres thinks that Asia is the next big market for sports betting given the fact that it offers so many jurisdictions. He is particularly excited about the Southeast Asian market, which offer huge opportunities due to the major sports action happening in the region.

“Professional sport is a relatively new concept. The betting on it… the illegal side is probably a bit ahead of the legal side. Despite that, it [Southeast Asian market] is quite new. There are huge opportunities, obviously in major sports – your football, your basketball, boxing – especially here in the Philippines – has huge following. There are endless opportunities and the market in Asia will sooner or later become as big as the market in the rest of the world,” he said.

If there’s one piece of advice he can give sports betting operators wanting a slice of the Asian sports betting market, Byres said that they should learn to spot where the opportunities are.

“What is popular in the Philippines might be different to China, might be different to Macau, Korea, etc. So it is about identifying where opportunities are. Let’s say boxing: less penetration in China. So how can we maximize that to have different markets offering the same events?”