- October 24, 2023
Bangladesh, as a dynamic South Asian country, is also a conservative country. It has always been known for its rich culture, large population, and potential for economic growth. However, despite its remarkable development in several areas, the gambling industry has always been strictly prohibited. The situation has sparked much discussion in recent years about the future of gambling in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh currently holds a strict stance on gambling, but some believe that, under certain conditions, opening up the gambling market may bring some potential opportunities to the country. According to the Constitution of Bangladesh, Bangladesh will take effective measures to curb various gambling activities. But there are scattered provisions in Bangladeshi law that refer to gambling, such as Section 294A of the Penal Code, 1860, and Section 92 of the Dhaka City Police (Amendment) Ordinance, 1976. Neither of these provisions applies to iGaming. So, you can understand that iGaming may or may not be illegal under Bangladeshi law, meaning it's in the gray area. The country’s current laws do not explicitly address iGaming or sports betting. Laws and regulations are much more relaxed, and there are no penalties for iGaming. There are no penalties for iGaming, which seems to have opened up a new world of entertainment for the people of Bangladesh, a conservative country. This is one of the main reasons why iGaming has become more and more popular in Bangladesh in the past few years.
Let us analyze why iGaming can quickly gain a foothold in Bangladesh and what is the potential for growth in the future.
Bangladesh is located in South Asia, with a total area of approximately 147,000 square kilometers. Bangladesh presents a unique geographical feature because it borders Myanmar in the Southeast and is surrounded by India to the West, North, and East, and India to the South. It is adjacent to the vast Indian Ocean. It can be said that Bangladesh is a country closely connected with India.
Historically, Bangladesh was known as "East Pakistan," and it was a part of Pakistan. Before 1947, both Pakistan and India were part of the so-called "Indian Empire" and were actually British colonies. Therefore, Bangladesh and India were also one country historically. This historical connection still shows significant similarities in the culture, clothing, food, etc., of the two countries.
Overall, Bangladesh's geographical location and history have given it deep ties with India, which still maintains similarities in culture and traditions, which is a common bond between the two countries.
Bangladesh’s Demographic Dividend
Bangladesh's population is diverse and includes different ethnic and religious groups. The population is approximately 170 million people (as of 2023). This population size ranks among the largest countries in the world. The main ethnic groups include Bengali, but there are also some ethnic minorities in the country, such as Endi (Chakma) and Kirti (Chak). Religiously, Islam is the main faith, but there are also a few followers of Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
As of January 2023, Bangladesh's total population reached 172.1 million. Data shows that from 2022 to 2023, Bangladesh's population increased by 1.8 million, with a growth rate of 1.0%. Interestingly, women account for 50.4% of the total population, while men are slightly lower at 49.6%.
In addition, it is worth noting that 40.0% of the Bangladeshi population chooses to live in urban centers, while the other 60.0% choose to live in rural areas. This balance of urban and rural distribution shows the diversity and population dynamics of Bangladesh.
Although Bangladesh has a relative advantage in terms of population, multiple factors, such as the gap between rich and poor, need to be taken into consideration to fully understand the characteristics of the country's population market. This multidimensional analysis will help provide a deeper understanding of Bangladesh’s demographic status and future trends.
Bangladesh Population Age Breakdown
The demographics of Bangladesh provide a broad audience for the iGaming market, with the average age of the population being 27.0 years. But it is also necessary to pay attention to the needs and preferences of different age groups for iGaming to develop various gambling products to better meet the expectations of different age groups of the Bangladeshi people.
8.5% are aged between 0 and 4 years old
13.6% are between the ages of 5 and 12
9.3% are between the ages of 13 and 17
13.5% are between the ages of 18 and 24
17.0% are between the ages of 25 and 34
14.1% are between the ages of 35 and 44
10.7% are between the ages of 45 and 54
7.2% are between the ages of 55 and 64
6.2% are aged 65 and above
Potential Economic Market Size
Bangladesh is a country in South Asia known for its rich cultural heritage, beautiful natural landscapes, and diverse population. However, while the country has made significant progress in multiple areas, GDP per capita has always been a topic of great concern. According to 2021 data, Bangladesh's per capita GDP is approximately US$2,457, and although this figure is relatively low, it has shown a continuous growth trend over the past decade.
The average GDP growth rate remains above 6%, with an economic growth of 8.15% in fiscal year 2019. In fiscal year 2020, despite the impact of the epidemic, GDP still achieved a growth of 5.24%. This growth has been driven by domestic and international factors, including the expansion of manufacturing, increased exports, and the attraction of foreign direct investment.
At the same time, Bangladesh is the world's second-largest exporter of ready-made garments, and its garment processing industry is its pillar industry. Bangladesh’s per capita GDP has exceeded that of India. This is also one of the factors that allow iGaming to survive in the Bangladeshi environment. At the same time, United Nations poverty expert Olivier De Schutter said in May 2023 that Bangladesh is expected to graduate from the ranks of the least developed countries in about three years.
State of Bangladesh’s Internet in 2023
Digital trends are clearly an area that investors are paying close attention to, reflecting the huge potential of digital technology to improve people's lives and social interactions. The country's economy and society will usher in more new opportunities.
As of the beginning of 2023, Bangladesh had 66.94 million Internet users, accounting for 38.9% of the total domestic population.
One thing to note is that in January 2023, Bangladesh had 44.7 million social media users, equivalent to 26.0% of the total population. This shows that the popularity of social media in Bangladesh is gradually beginning to take root among the people.
At the same time, at the beginning of 2023, Bangladesh had 179.9 million active cellular mobile connections, a number equivalent to 104.6% of the total population. This reflects people's high reliance on mobile communications and highlights the rapid popularity of mobile technology. (But why is the number of connections higher than the population and Internet users? This is probably the main reason that many companies in Bangladesh use the Internet to work.)
Internet Connection Speed in Bangladesh
At the beginning of 2023, the median mobile internet connection speed over cellular networks was 13.95 Mbps.
The median fixed internet connection speed is 34.85 Mbps.
In Bangladesh, the median mobile internet connection speed increased by 3.53 Mbps in the 12 months to the beginning of 2023, a growth rate of 33.9%.
Meanwhile, fixed internet connection speeds in Bangladesh also increased by 4.69 Mbps during the same period, a growth rate of 15.6%.
These data show that the Internet connection speed in Bangladesh is improving, which will help the online experience of iGaming and promote the development of the Internet digital field.
Social Media Statistics for Bangladesh
Bangladesh has 44.7 million social media users. Equivalent to 26.0% of the total population.
As of early 2023, there were 40.7 million social media users aged 18 and above in Bangladesh, accounting for 34.5% of the total population aged 18 and above.
Similarly, as of January 2023, 66.8% of the total Internet user base in Bangladesh uses at least one social media platform.
Among social media users in Bangladesh, 32.6% are women, while 67.4% are men.
From this data, it is not difficult to find that Internet users and social strata in Bangladesh are dominated by men.
Number of Facebook users in Bangladesh
According to data released by Meta Advertising Resources, as of early 2023, Facebook had 43.25 million users in Bangladesh. The advertising coverage is equivalent to 64.6% of the total Internet users in the region. However, Meta's own tool released data indicating that Facebook's potential ad reach in Bangladesh fell by 1.5 million people (-3.2%) between 2022 and 2023. This is also in line with the company's global performance decline trend.
At the beginning of 2023, Facebook’s advertising coverage in Bangladesh was equivalent to 25.1% of the country’s total population. Among people aged 13 and above, 32.3% use Facebook, of which 32.4% are female and 67.6% are male.
Number of YouTube users in Bangladesh
According to the latest update of Google Ads inventory, YouTube had 34.4 million users in Bangladesh as of early 2023. This number is equivalent to 20.0% of the total population of Bangladesh and 51.4% of the total Internet user base, regardless of age.
It should be noted that there is a certain gender difference in YouTube’s advertising audience in Bangladesh, with 42.0% of the audience being female and 58.0% being male. This is in line with the male-dominated social structure of Bangladesh.
Number of Instagram users in Bangladesh
Data published in the Meta advertising tool shows that Instagram had 4.45 million users in Bangladesh at the beginning of 2023. Based on these data, it can be seen that Instagram’s advertising coverage in Bangladesh is equivalent to 2.6% of the total population.
In addition, among the audience aged 13 and above, Instagram’s share reached 3.3%. Moreover, this number is equivalent to 6.6% of the local Internet user base (regardless of age). In addition, according to data, 31.5% of Instagram advertising audiences are female, and 68.5% are male.
This shows that male users account for a higher proportion on Instagram. It can be seen from these data that men’s influence and number of users are very high.
Number of Facebook Messenger users in Bangladesh
According to data released by Meta Advertising Resources, Facebook Messenger had 20.35 million advertising users in Bangladesh as of early 2023. This number is equivalent to 11.8% of the total population at the beginning of the year, covering 15.2% of people over the age of 13 and 30.4% of the local Internet user base, regardless of age.
It should be noted that 30.3% of the Facebook Messenger ad audience in Bangladesh are women, while 69.7% are men.
However, Facebook Messenger's potential ad reach in Bangladesh fell by 1.1 million people from 2022 to 2023, a decrease of 5.1%, according to Meta planning tool data.
These data reflect the advertising coverage of Facebook Messenger in Bangladesh. Although the coverage has declined slightly, it still provides an important channel for advertising marketing, especially among Internet users and young people.
Number of LinkedIn users in Bangladesh
According to data released by LinkedIn Advertising Resources, as of early 2023, LinkedIn had 5.9 million "members" in Bangladesh. In fact, since LinkedIn's members are mainly adults and have a certain financial base (LinkedIn limits the use of its platform to 18 years and above), this is mainly due to industry relationships.
As of early 2023, LinkedIn's audience in Bangladesh accounted for 3.4% of the total population. Its advertising coverage is equivalent to 8.8% of the local Internet user base (regardless of age). Among the advertising audiences, 26.8% are women, and 73.2% are men.
LinkedIn’s potential advertising reach in Bangladesh will increase by 1.3 million between 2022 and 2023 (a 28.3% increase). This is also thanks to the development of the Internet, which can greatly promote the growth of Internet users.
Gambling Status in Bangladesh
Gambling laws in Bangladesh have their origins in the British era. The major legislation is the Public Gambling Act of 1867, followed by other acts governing gambling in public places, including the Dhaka City Police Station (Amendment) Ordinance, 1976, the Chittagong City Police Station Ordinance, 1978, and the Chittagong City Police Station Ordinance, 2018. Ghazipur and Rangpur Municipal Police Act.
But none of these explicitly cover gambling located online. The classification of online poker as a game of skill or chance has not yet been determined, thus leaving room for interpretation. At the same time, most gambling, gaming, or betting platforms operate overseas, making it difficult for local authorities to effectively regulate and monitor these activities. This also makes Bangladesh selective and has a limited deterrence effect. Only traditional gambling activities are subject to occasional police raids, particularly at billiards clubs, restaurants, and cafes. In contrast, sportsbooks such as cricket, carrom, and kabaddi do not have strict checks.
According to a recent press release from the Ghana Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC), the BTRC successfully blocked 331 iGaming websites. Meanwhile, the BTRC also urged companies such as Google, Facebook, and YouTube to take action against a further 246 apps and links related to iGaming. The Google Play Store has shut down 14 gambling-related apps and is taking steps to shut down the remaining 136 apps.
According to a report in 2022, Facebook and YouTube have blocked 17 of the 96 gambling links requested. In 2012, 250,000 people registered to participate in iGaming. As of 2017, there are approximately 50 iGaming companies operating in Bangladesh, and more than 4 million people play online games.
But in 2020, Subrata Roy, deputy chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, said there has been an alarming increase in the number of gambling activities conducted through online media and digital devices. “They have blocked more than 20,000 gambling and pornographic websites, but many websites are using virtual private networks, commonly known as VPNs, to access these websites, and there is little we can do in this case,” Subrata said.
(In fact, from this passage, we can also see the weakness of the authorities’ network technology. But when it comes to 20,000 websites, it is hard to say whether there is any water in them. But we all know that a porn site or a gambling site, There may be dozens of domain names. This is normal. The cost of domain names is too low.)
Meanwhile, Kamrul Ahsan, deputy inspector general for cybercrime at the Criminal Investigation Department, said the main problem they faced was that they were not receiving complaints against iGaming. (This also suggests that the reason is probably religious belief.)
From these reports, I can also understand that Bangladesh has cracked down on iGaming and is not very enthusiastic about the control of iGaming due to factors such as people's livelihood and economic level, network technology, religious beliefs, and other factors.
Bangladesh E-Wallet Status
The e-wallet and online payments market in Bangladesh is growing at an astonishing rate, providing a wide range of digital payment options to the people. As digital transactions continue to grow, payment trends in Bangladesh are changing like never before. By 2022, the total transaction volume of Bangladesh’s digital payment market will reach US$9.83 billion.
- bKash: bKash is one of the largest mobile payment service providers in Bangladesh. Users can conduct financial transactions such as transfers, recharges, and payments through smartphone applications or text messages. In addition, bKash also has a large agent network that enables users to convert cash into electronic funds or withdraw cash from electronic funds, with more than 30 million registered accounts.
- Nagad: Nagad is an e-wallet service launched by the Bangladesh Post Office, which provides similar functions, including transfers, payments, and recharges. In addition, Nagad also works with many partners so that users can use Nagad services in different venues. With 80 million registered customers and an average daily trading volume of over US$112 million, Nagad’s influence is undeniable.
- Rocket: Rocket is a Dutch-Bangla joint venture mobile payment service provided by DBBL (Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited). Users can use Rocket for a variety of transactions, including transfers, top-ups, and bill payments.
- SureCash: SureCash is another Bangladeshi mobile payment platform that allows users to make digital payments through their mobile phones, especially in rural areas and remote places. It is used by many businesses and individuals. SureCash is one of the most widely used payment methods.
- iPay: iPay is one of the earliest payment service providers in Bangladesh, providing customers with a seamless suite of services in the form of mobile payments. The company's goal is to provide a secure payment ecosystem that allows people and businesses to safely come together and transact. iPay is connected with 57 commercial banks across Bangladesh, revolutionizing the nature of transaction management.
- Upay (Excellent Payment): Upay is an electronic wallet service launched by Bangladeshi telecommunications operator Grameenphone. Users can conduct various financial transactions through mobile applications.
- MasterCard and Visa: MasterCard and Visa need no introduction as they are basically used worldwide.
- DBBL Mobile Banking (Dutch-Bangla Bank Rocket): DBBL is the main payment method in Bangladesh. It is a state-owned bank and one of the first and largest banks to provide banking services in Bangladesh. It operates without physical bank branches and serves customers in rural areas.
- PayPal: PayPal also offers online payment options, especially for cross-border transactions in Bangladesh.
What Kind of Games do Bangladeshis Like?
Sports and Cricket
Cricket is one of the most popular sports in Bangladesh and attracts a large number of passionate supporters, whether it is played in family rucksack games or in international matches. Before the Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 takes over the country, Bangladeshis will be traveling to India to bet on cricket.
Carrom is a very popular family and social game in Bangladesh. This game is found on carrom boards in many homes in Bangladesh, and people usually play this game at home or at social gatherings. Therefore, it is popular among all ages.
Kabaddi is a popular traditional sports game in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has professional kabaddi leagues and tournaments that attract large crowds. Kabaddi requires endurance, speed, and physical strength from its participants, making it very popular among youth and adults alike. Domestic and international kabaddi competitions in Bangladesh also attract a large number of fans, especially at the village and community levels, where the sport attracts much attention.
In addition to the above sports betting games, online poker is also very popular in Bangladesh as a game of chance and skill. Especially on iGaming platforms, Bangladeshi people will try to bet. However, in recent years, the popularity of the blockchain industry is also booming in Bangladesh.
But there is no lottery in Bangladesh. Lottery is considered a gambling activity in Bangladesh and is prohibited by law. Even the legitimate Bangladesh National Lottery does not exist.
According to recent reports, Bangladesh has stepped up its crackdown on iGaming. The authorities have taken some measures to crack down on illegal gambling sites and have banned some iGaming sites. However, the effectiveness of regulation remains limited due to weak network technology and the use of virtual private networks (VPNs). In addition, Bangladesh's gambling market is affected by factors such as people's livelihood and economic level, network technology, and religious beliefs, and the control of iGaming is not very strict.
But the good news is that Bangladesh’s e-wallet and online payment market is growing rapidly, providing people with a wide range of digital payment options. It also provides a good payment environment for iGaming.
The gambling market in Bangladesh is developing especially iGaming. Although the relevant laws do not clearly stipulate the legality of iGaming, most betting, gaming, or betting platforms operate overseas, making it difficult for Bangladeshi authorities to effectively regulate and monitor these activities. This is also based on the weakness of the Bangladeshi authorities’ network technology, but it is undeniable that the weakness of network technology is one of the environmental factors that allows iGaming to operate in a market for a long time.
When it comes to sports and cricket, Bengalis have shown a keen interest in betting in these areas. In addition, traditional games such as carrom and kabaddi are also popular. In recent years, blockchain technology and gambling games, such as online poker, have also emerged in Bangladesh. However, it is important to note that there is no lottery agency in Bangladesh, and lotteries are considered illegal gambling. The lottery agency does not exist.
Although Bangladesh has a population advantage, its livelihood economy is similar to that of India. If a gaming platform wants to seize the market first, it may consider entering the Bangladeshi gaming market. But if it is for short-term benefits, the editor of TC-Gaming does not recommend entering the Bangladeshi gambling market too early.
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