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Crowdsourced Asian market report: live dealer load times, Q1 2024

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TESTA is proud to present its live dealer load times performance report, which was gathered by crowdsourced testers in eight key Asian iGaming markets.

The test data collected set new benchmarks for Asia and shed light on the latest live dealer market trends. 

TESTA’s reporting on the data and insights intends to help providers understand the performance standards they need to compete in emerging Asian markets.

Importance of load time in live dealer games

Load time isn’t a vanity metric. It’s the beginning of the customer journey and the first impression of the user experience that’s about to unfold. Imagine entering an online casino, craving the adrenaline rush of live gameplay, only to be met with the frustrating lag of slow load times. It’s a disappointing start which can drive players away and towards more responsive competitors.

Top 8 emerging markets in Asia

During Q1 2024, TESTA identified 8 key markets in Asian as potential hotbeds for a new wave of iGaming growth and innovation: India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. TESTA activated its crowdsourced testing community to measure load times in each of these nations.

8 Asian markets crowdtested for live dealer load times

The report is an example of TESTA’s ongoing market research and benchmarking services to providers and operators, which offer detailed testing data from real people on real devices, and valuable insights about how to improve live dealer load times in Asia.

Test method

In the eight markets tested, we benchmarked the leading live dealer games in each region. Our tests, on average, included games from the top 4-6 live dealers in each market. It’s important to note that not all the live dealers we tested operated in all eight markets, nor did they offer the same live dealer games.

Each tester conducted test assignments on their devices. All tests were video recorded, and the footage was sent to TESTA, along with the collected data.

Testers were asked to:

  • Enter the online casino website sportsbet.io
  • Log in to their account
  • Search for the top live dealer games on the website with the region filter set to the country they reside in
  • Measure the game load time

For the purposes of this test, game load time refers to the amount of time it takes from the point at which the live dealer game page finishes loading to when the tester connects successfully to the livestream. A 0-second load time is achieved by having the live dealer stream be loaded instantly alongside the operator platform’s webpage.

Country comparison

The best performer by country was South Korea, which not only had an average load time of 9.46 seconds across all games, but was also the only country to have an average load time lower than 10 seconds.

Live dealer load times in Asia

  • Thailand, Japan, India, and Indonesia all had average load times of less than 20 seconds.
  • Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam all had average load times of more than 20 seconds.
  • Vietnam in particular ranked lowest in this round of testing, coming in at an average of 23.78 seconds.

Comparison by provider

Average load time in countries tested

  • Evolution came away as the best performer among those tested, with an average load time of 11.93 seconds.
  • Pragmatic Play comes in at a close second, with an average load time of 11.96 seconds.
  • 7MOJOS ranked as the provider most in need of region-specific optimization with an average load time of 29.89 seconds. They are also the only provider to have an average of over 20 seconds.

Load time insights

TESTA commonly sees five reasons for load speed problems. 

Factors impacting live dealer streaming load time

Server location

If a provider is hosting their live dealer software from Europe but wishes to operate in Asia, the physical distance can introduce issues such as out-of-order packet arrival, packet loss, and high latency. The end result of which is suboptimal load times for players in the region.

To counteract this, providers should consider implementing strategies such as IPLC (International Private Leased Circuit), local content delivery networks, or establishing regional server hubs in Asia to help mitigate the effects of geographical distance.

Livestream protocol

The choice of protocol utilized by the provider also heavily influences load times. Various protocols such as MP4, RTMP, HLS, FLV, and WebRTC offer different advantages and compatibility levels with devices and browsers. Failure to optimize the protocol selection for different devices and browsers can lead to delays in loading times.

For example, HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) is often considered the optimal protocol for iPhone and Safari users due to native support from iOS devices and its prevalence in the Apple ecosystem. But for Android devices, DASH and MP4 are much more common protocols used for live streaming. If the game does not perform client device detection and serve streams accordingly, long load times may naturally arise as a result.

Media player adjustability

UI optimization is crucial in reducing lag or freezing of video or images during gameplay. To give players more agency in controlling their betting experience, a live dealer provider may implement options for choosing the resolution and framerate of the stream on the game page.

The player should be able to adjust the resolution based on network performance, ensuring that the live stream continues to function, even if the resolution is not perfect.

Network infrastructure

While localized internet or network speed can naturally fluctuate, it is often derivative of the general network infrastructure available to the region. Markets with a higher prevalence of fixed broadband and fiber connections may naturally perform differently from countries that heavily rely on 4G or 5G networks for general connectivity. Nonetheless, providers should take network infrastructure into account and optimize their games accordingly.

Take for example Vietnam, which ranked the slowest in this round of testing, actually has faster internet speeds than both India and Indonesia. The poor performance in Vietnam may then be better explained as the result of a lack of targeted market optimizations as opposed to general slow internet speeds in the region.

Local device variability

Tailoring game infrastructure and load time to specific market conditions is naturally important. For instance, a heavily mobile-dominated market like Japan should prioritize optimization for mobile devices to ensure compatibility with popular mobile browsers and operating systems. Conversely, in a market like South Korea where fast internet is the norm, providers may focus on delivering high-resolution low-latency streams to capitalize on the local player’s expectation of stream fidelity and responsiveness.

Market-specific analysis

India

Live dealer load time_India

Link to report: iGaming market insights: India’s smoothest online casino live dealer games in 2024 Q1

Benchmark summary

  • Fastest loading game: Evolution’s Live Baccarat A with 11.56 sec
  • Most in need of optimization: 7MOJOS’ Baccarat A with 21.66 sec

In the first quarter of 2024, India’s iGaming market continues its rapid growth trajectory, fueled by factors such as increasing internet penetration, rising disposable incomes, and a growing digital entertainment appetite. The live dealer game segment also experienced significant expansion, though challenges remain.

Providers entering India face challenges in optimizing live dealer games due to the diversity of end devices used by Indian players. Performance variance may range from smooth and enjoyable to stuttering and unplayable, marking consistency as a major pain point that providers need to address.

As the third fastest loading market among tested Asian countries, India’s internet infrastructure faces challenges such as urban-rural divides and interstate developmental gaps. Providers should address these challenges by setting up regional CDNs and focusing on optimizing compatibility across the most popular Indian devices present in each state.

Indonesia

Live dealer load time_Indonesia

Link to report: iGaming market insights: Indonesia’s smoothest online casino live dealer games in 2024 Q1

Benchmark summary

  • Fastest loading game: Pragmatic Play’s Speed Baccarat 1 with 10.71 sec
  • Most in need of optimization: 7MOJOS’ Baccarat A with 24.63 sec

Despite stringent regulations, Indonesia’s iGaming market has experienced significant growth driven by its tech-savvy population and increasing disposable income. Live dealer casino games have particularly surged in popularity due to improved internet connectivity and rising interest in remote experiences after the pandemic.

Presently, live dealer software load times for Indonesia vary, influenced by the country’s island-based geography and disparate internet infrastructure. Remote islands often experience lower internet quality, affecting load times and requiring providers to optimize content delivery network servers accordingly.

TESTA’s crowdtesting in particular can offer valuable insights into local performance metrics, as network conditions vary from island to island. Having testers operating on the ground is perhaps one of the more cost-effective options for gaining accurate performance metrics.

Japan

Live dealer load time_Japan

Link to report: iGaming market insights: Japan’s smoothest online casino live dealer games in 2024 Q1

Benchmark summary

  • Fastest loading game: Pragmatic Play’s Speed Baccarat 1 with 9.55 sec
  • Most in need of optimization: 7MOJOS’ Baccarat A with 28.93 sec

Japan’s iGaming market, known for its technological prowess and gambling culture, offers substantial opportunities for live dealer software despite strict gambling laws. With the online gambling market projected to grow steadily, live dealer games are gaining traction as a new form of gambling entertainment.

Despite Japan’s reputation for advanced technological infrastructure, it is one of the regions most impacted by rural-urban development gaps, resulting in varying load times. Rural areas are encumbered by lower availability of fixed landline line connections, fewer cell towers per area, and limited cell tower bandwidth even in areas with coverage. As a result, providers should implement adaptive technologies to optimize player experiences that take into account the possible range of connection speeds.

Ranking third after South Korea in first place and Thailand in second place, it is apparent that the Japanese live dealer software market still has room for savvy providers to make significant improvements to broaden player reach and enhance market competitiveness.

South Korea

Live dealer load time_Korea

Link to report: iGaming market insights: South Korea’s smoothest online casino live dealer games in 2024 Q1

Benchmark summary

  • Fastest loading game: Both Ezugi’s Fortune Baccarat 1 and Bombay Live’s Baccarat 1 came in at 0.00 sec
  • Most in need of optimization: BetGames.TV’s Baccarat came in at a lethargic 19.32 sec

South Korea’s gaming culture is one of the strongest facilitators for the growth of iGaming in the country. With a tech-savvy population and a culture deeply immersed in electronic gaming, South Korea has all the conditions necessary to serve as fertile ground for the expansion of online gambling.

As one of the first countries to implement gigabit fiber, South Korea boasts exceptional internet infrastructure characterized by widespread access to fast and reliable internet connections. This is especially beneficial for latency and delay-sensitive live dealer software, as South Korea came away as the only country in which providers were able to achieve an impressive 0-second load time. Both Ezugi and Bombay Live were able to achieve this technological marvel, allowing players to be instantly connected to the live dealer stream and betting interface the moment they click on the game on the operator’s website.

Notably, even the slowest loading game in Korea surpasses load times in other Asian markets. For providers aiming to tap into the Korean iGaming market, prioritizing load time optimization to meet heightened user expectations is crucial. Tailored strategies with player feedback are crucial for navigating this technologically advanced landscape effectively and maximizing player satisfaction.

Philippines

Live dealer load time_Philippines

Link to report: iGaming market insights: Philippines’s smoothest online casino live dealer games in 2024 Q1

Benchmark summary

  • Fastest loading game: Evolution’s Live Baccarat A with 9.16 sec
  • Most in need of optimization: 7MOJOS’ Dragon Tiger with 37.64 sec

Online gambling, and by association live dealer software, is officially sanctioned in the Philippines and managed by the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). With PAGCOR reporting a record 5.7 billion in gross gaming revenue for 2023 and a further 6.7 billion for 2024, live dealer casinos seem to have a bright future in this Southeast Asian island nation.

However, TESTA has found that the Philippines actually has the second worst load times among the tested Asian countries. Despite wide 4G network availability and 5G deployment in select areas, the country’s reliance on mobile network connection as the main network connectivity option has clear shortcomings. More so than broadband, fiber optic, or other forms of landline internet connection, mobile networks are constrained in total airwave bandwidth, which tends to be especially congested during peak hours of the day.

This problem is further compounded by rural-urban development gaps in internet infrastructure, meaning that providers must put in extra effort to optimize their games for generally subpar internet speeds. TESTA has previously worked with Jade Gaming, a major Filipino iGaming provider, to help them iron out connectivity issues prevalent in the region.

Vietnam

Live dealer load time_Vietnam

Link to report: iGaming market insights: Vietnam’s smoothest online casino live dealer games in 2024 Q1

Benchmark summary

  • Fastest loading game: Evolution’s Live Baccarat A with 17.94 sec
  • Most in need of optimization: 7MOJOS’ Dragon Tiger with 35.35 sec

Vietnam’s iGaming market is witnessing significant growth driven by a young, tech-savvy population. However, challenges such as slow internet speeds in rural areas persist, necessitating meticulous optimization by providers.

In this round of testing, Vietnam was found to have the slowest loading time among all the tested Asian countries. When compared to Korea’s slowest loading game at 19.32 seconds, Vietnam’s fastest loading game clocks in at only a marginally faster speed of 17.94 seconds. For providers looking to enter the Vietnamese iGaming market, optimizing load times to prevent player frustration will be crucial.

Offering additional options for highly compressed video streams and client network detection to adjust frame rate and resolution automatically should be considered a priority for this region in order to speed up load times and improve player experience.

Thailand

Live dealer load time_Thailand

Link to report: iGaming market insights: Thailand’s smoothest online casino live dealer games in 2024 Q1

Benchmark summary

  • Fastest loading game: Pragmatic Play’s Speed Baccarat 1 with 8.90 sec
  • Most in need of optimization: 7MOJOS’ Dragon Tiger with 21.58 seconds.

Thailand’s iGaming market continues to thrive despite strict gambling laws, with online play gaining popularity and potential government legalization on the horizon. The live dealer segment is particularly lucrative, with estimates suggesting it could contribute significantly to the industry’s projected $546 million growth by 2024.

Despite only having above-average internet infrastructure compared to peers in the broader Asian region, Thailand’s average ranks as the second fastest among the tested Asian countries. With good mobile coverage but limited fiber optic reach compared to leaders like Singapore and South Korea, we initially expected slower load speeds especially in rural areas.

For providers, this should draw attention to the range of internet speeds that exist within the region as they make appropriate region-specific optimizations for live dealer software targeting Thailand. In practice, this means that games should be able to both utilize the fast internet speeds available in developed urban regions but also have fallback mechanisms in place to switch to lower resolution or lower framerate streams as needed.

Malaysia

Live dealer load time_Malaysia

Link to report: iGaming market insights: Malaysia’s smoothest online casino live dealer games in 2024 Q1

Benchmark summary

  • Fastest loading game: BetGames.TV‘s Baccarat excels with a speedy 10.57 sec
  • Most in need of optimization: 7MOJOS’ Dragon Tiger with 50.40 sec

iGaming remains a gray zone operation in Malaysia, as both governmental law and religious doctrine (Sharia Law for Muslims) prohibit gambling. However, Malaysian authorities struggle to regulate foreign-based online sites, meaning that players are largely free to engage in most forms of iGaming while enforcement targets platforms rather than users.

For this round of testing, load times for Malaysia’s live dealer software came out decidedly mediocre. With the rapid deployment of fiber infrastructure in recent years, Malaysian users should in theory not be encumbered by slow infrastructure. In practice, there’s still a significant gap in internet access and quality between urban and rural areas as rural areas often rely on slower technologies like ADSL. And even if fiber optic may be available, speeds can be inconsistent and sometimes expensive compared to some regional competitors like Japan or South Korea.

For providers eyeing the Malaysian market, they should take note to optimize their live dealer streams for generally slow internet speeds that may be unreliable especially during peak hours. Providers may find greater success in defaulting to lower bitrate streams by default and give players the option to choose higher quality streams on the interface to account for varying internet conditions. Responsiveness of the betting interface under such challenging internet conditions should also be taken into account as issues like latency and packet loss are prone under such conditions.

Recommendations for operators and providers

With Mike Lo, Head of Solutions

Mike Lo works with TESTA via its sister company, Jigentec. He’s a seasoned expert in solutions delivery and has 15 years of experience providing internet solutions in Asia for iGaming clients. We asked Mike about the report’s findings and what they mean for operators and providers seeking success in Asia.

Interview with Mike Lo

First of all, why do load times matter?

Mike: I always say that load time optimization is like the front door to your casino. It sets the tone for the entire user experience. If players have to wait for games to load, they’re likely to bounce right off to a competitor. Providers need to prioritize this by optimizing code, compressing assets, and leveraging technologies like CDNs to optimize loading times.

First impressions do matter. This year’s Live Dealer Load Times Report shows a lot of variability across the region. How should providers approach the unique demands of each Asian country?

Mike: This is where understanding the local landscape becomes really important. From internet infrastructure to cultural stuff, every market in Asia is unique. Providers should invest in market research to understand market dynamics and player preferences, and then tailor their games as best as they can. There’s some low hanging fruit they can go after first. For example, in markets with slower internet speeds, offering lighter versions of games or optimizing for mobile play can make a big difference.

Ok, makes sense. What else can they do? I’ve heard you say server location and livestream protocols should prioritized.

Mike: Yes, that’s true. In our experience those two things are the problems that can be checked and optimized first. It’s all about reducing latency and ensuring seamless streaming. By deploying regional server hubs closer to players, providers can minimize delays. The closer the better.

For the livestream protocols, selecting the right one, like HLS for Apple or DASH for Android, for example, can make a big difference for optimizing performance across different devices. So first off, it’s all about speed and compatibility. If you get those things right you’re on your way.

Making sure the media player UI supports adaptive resolution is a bit of a no-brainer these days but still something to check, correct?

Mike: It’s surprising to see a media player without it these days, yes, but it does happen. Adaptive resolution is key. By dynamically adjusting resolution based on network conditions, providers can ensure smooth gameplay even on shaky connections. Giving hands-on control to the player is a definitely a best practice. And besides that, simplicity is key. Streamlining the interface and minimizing distractions are good ways to enhance the UX and keep players engaged.

For network infrastructure, how can providers deliver consistent performance across diverse markets?

Mike: It’s a balancing act. Providers need to account for variations in network infrastructure and optimize their games accordingly. This might mean offering lower bitrate streams for markets with slower connections or investing in technologies like peer-to-peer networking to reduce strain on servers. Flexibility and adaptability are key.

Ok. Same thing could be said about device variability, right? From market to market we see a lot of variation and that can really impact user experience.

Mike: Absolutely, it’s crucial to adapt game infrastructure specifically for the devices prevalent in each market. Take Japan, for example, where mobile usage is incredibly high. The focus should be on ensuring our games run smoothly on mobile devices, optimizing for the popular browsers and operating systems used there.

And what about regions with high-speed internet and lots of desktop users like South Korea?

Mike: In South Korea, where the internet is super fast, we have a great opportunity to enhance the iGaming experience by focusing on high-resolution and low-latency streaming. This way, we can meet the local players’ expectations for stream quality and responsiveness, really taking advantage of the advanced infrastructure.

So it’s all about understanding the specific needs of each landscape and user habits of each market, then customizing the approach.

Mike: Yes, exactly! By tailoring technology to fit these local conditions, you can provide a much better user experience and potentially increase market share in these regions. It’s about striking the right balance based on what’s most popular and effective in each market.

The future of live dealer software in Asia

Asia’s iGaming market offers immense growth potential, particularly in live dealer software. Success depends on delivering diverse, seamless live dealer games. Providers can thrive by leveraging insights from this report and optimizing their strategies. TESTA, as an industry partner, aims to provide relevant crowdsourced solutions, emphasizing continual innovation and adaptation for competitiveness and growth in Asia’s live dealer game sector.

If you are interested in getting detailed market insights or customized solutions to benefit your iGaming business:

  • Contact us: Experience first-hand how TESTA’s crowdtesting can benefit your iGaming operations.
  • Find us on LinkedIn: Share the insights you’ve gained from TESTA’s analysis across the industry.
  • Read more articles: Stay informed about the latest trends and benchmarks in iGaming.

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