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10 biggest gambling countries in the world by the numbers

Published:

8 Mar 2019

Arguably one of the biggest industries in the world, worth an approximate $500 billion, with no signs of dwindling as new initiatives lead to more revenue avenues for the big companies.

With more and more being spent on marketing to increase the number of participants as well as new legislation being passed in more countries around the world to make gambling legal, we could see even more territories capitalise on what has become a global force.

Online gambling plays a huge factor on this scene, while a big increase in merger and acquisition activity over recent years has helped to create strong, strategic alliances with a view to driving business in new regions.

As such, we take a look at 10 of the biggest gambling countries in the world from an economic perspective.

United Kingdom

In terms of the number of active gamblers, the UK is number one, according to Mark D. Griffiths, who is a lead expert in the field of gambling research. The combined nations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has the highest percentage of gamblers under the age of 21 who account for 65% of all active participants in the industry.

According to the Gambling Commission, the gross gambling yield (GGY) in the UK was at £14.4 billion as of December 2018.

Australia

A country that has a strong habitual liking for gambling, Australian’s biggest gambling vice are poker machines, also known as ‘Pokies’. According to H2 Gambling Capita (H2G) in 2016, the losses per each adult for gambling amounted to $990 – at the time, the biggest globally.

The Sunday Morning Herald reported in 2017 that Australians lost a total of $24 billion each year through gambling.

China & Macau

While online gambling and land-based casinos in China are prohibited, state lotteries, sports betting and Mahjong are available for Chinese citizens and annual income from these are in excess of $50 billion, with the country having an increasing problem with gambling among children and teenagers

Casinos, however, are prominent in Macau, which generates an additional $21 billion, with two-thirds of revenue being generated by VIP players.

India

Although, gambling in India was banned for a long time, there has always been an inherent problem with gamblers in the country.

Online poker takes the lead in India as the most popular gambling activity, especially favoured by teenagers. Due to the rise in middle class, developing digital technologies and mobile Internet, with all three understood to be progressing far quicker than the USA, Russia and Europe, the country has witnessed a considerable rise in gambling activity.

As a result, data from Statista shows that income from gambling in India exceeded $130 billion.

Ireland

A country which combines its love of animals, especially horses and greyhounds with a flutter, has seen Ireland become one of the biggest gambling nations in the world, particularly for horse racing.

According to H2G in 2016, the Irish spent more than $550 per adult on gambling every year, with lotteries also a popular activity.

Finland

It is said that anyone who spends more than €120 per year on gambling in Finland has a serious gambling addiction and as such, the country provides them with free counselling.

According to H2G, the yearly outlay amounted to on average €500 per resident, with gambling seen as more of a retirement vice, and online casinos said to be mostly played by citizens with an average age of just 18.

Singapore

A growing tourist hotspot in the gambling world, according to the Singapore Tourist Board released figures in 2018 that showed visitors spent approximately $1.5 Billion on gambling each year. Since the first casino opened in 2005, the nation state has become a growing force and shows no signs of slowing down.

USA

According to Statista, the gambling industry accounts for a contribution of $137.5 billion to the economy, while forecasts for 2019 indicate that the gross gambling yield in the country will reach $495 billion. Not bad for a country where Las Vegas and Atlantic City are the only legal gambling zones.

Canada

While gambling is regulated in Canada, with 50 casinos nationally, the gambling industry generates a modest $13 billion each year for the economy, with every active gambler spending an average of $570 annually.

Italy

Although the country only accounts for 2 percent of the global population, the Libera Association reports that 800,000 Italians have a gambling addiction, with Statista indicating that the country’s economy generated approximately €102 billion in 2017 through gambling.