World’s Biggest Gamblers (The Top 10 Countries for Online Gambling)

by Staff & Contributors

Australia

The Australian state of New South Wales has one slot machine for every 80 people. 100,000 “pokies” as they call them in Australia.

That’s more slot machines per person than you’ll find doctors in most parts of the world!

Online slots are supposedly illegal. But it’s estimated that Aussie players spend around $800 million a year on international gambling sites anyway.

The legal gambling market is big enough anyway, bringing in some $24 billion every year. 80% of Aussies have gambled in the past year, mostly through online sports betting and offline pokies.

 

The United Kingdom

The UK is one of the biggest online gambling markets in the world. That’s no surprise because this country of nearly 70 million residents has a long history with sports betting.

Many of the world’s most popular sports came from the British Isles, including football, rugby, golf, and more. Horse racing has also been a cultural institution in England for over 500 years. Its history possibly goes as far back as the Roman invasion, 1800 years ago.

And you can be 100% certain that if people were racing horses, other people would be betting on it!

Today, the UK online gambling market is worth some £15 billion a year. Some of the world’s biggest online gambling companies are based here, like William Hill and Bet365. The UKGC is one of the most respected gambling regulators globally as well.

China & Macau

Despite casino gambling being entirely illegal on the mainland, China is still by far and away from the world’s biggest gambling market.

Between state-sponsored sports betting, competitive Mah-Jong, and lotteries – government-backed online gambling companies in China rake in some $50 billion annually in revenue. And that’s without including the enclave of Macau!

This small but densely populated city-state is basically the Las Vegas of Asia, except even more profitable! This is the only place in China with legal casinos and, despite a whole boatload of restrictions on exactly how they operate, Chinese players can’t get enough.

Pre-pandemic, the casinos here were pulling in $35+ billion every year. Although, as they have reopened post lockdowns, China has put on more restrictions and revenues have still not returned to that level!

Canada

Us Canadians love to gamble. Not so much at online casinos. Although we do that too!

The best-known form of online gambling, in fact, all gambling, is actually lotteries. The state rakes in billions every year from sanctioned lottery games.

75% of Canadians have gambled in the past year. However, they have a fairly low incidence of problem gambling, with just 3% of players considering themselves as such.

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USA

Our neighbours in the USA have been slow to legalize online gambling fully. However, the states have shown they’ve got a real appetite for it.

The first state to legalize online betting and gaming was West Virginia. However, it was New Jersey that paved the way.

West Virginia’s sports betting bill was put into motion just before New Jersey’s successful Supreme Court case against PASPA.

PASPA, or the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, was set up by the collegiate athletics associations in 1992. It basically made all kinds of online sports betting illegal across the federal US.

It was repealed in 2018 when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of New Jersey’s online sports betting initiative. Since then, 18 states have legalized online sports betting.

A further six have completely legal online casinos and sports betting:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia

Singapore

This Asian island nation only legalized gambling about 8 years ago, but it’s already a healthy market. It brings in some $3 billion a year, in what is quite a small country.

There’s no legal online casino gambling, though. And, as with most laws here, punishments for breaking that is no joke. Apparently, millions do, though – but who are we to judge?

Anyway, legal betting options here are restricted to lottery and sports betting. Specifically, football, horse racing, and motor racing.

Offline casinos are also big business here. Singaporean politicians introduced one interesting law, allowing family members to intervene and legally ban one of their king from entering the country’s two legal casinos!

Despite that law, and the special casino entrance fee for Singaporean natives, it hasn’t stopped them from loving a gamble. 52% of the island’s residents report gambling at least once, on average, each year.

Malta

While Malta might not necessarily have loads of citizens who gamble, the country, as a whole, definitely likes online gambling!

Loads of the world’s biggest international gaming companies are based here. That includes PaddyPower Betfair, Entain, Kindred Group, Betsson Group, Unibet – and more.

They’re drawn to the highly-rated regulator, that allows access to much of the European market. Plus, the low tax deals offered by the Maltese government and the sunny Mediterranean lifestyle and climate no doubt play a part.

Finland

42% of Finns gamble, which is quite a lot for this small country. The minimum age to play online slots was just 15 for many years, until 2011.

Today, although online casino gaming is allowed – Finns prefer to play at their national lottery and sports betting service, Veikkaus. Most of the profits here go back into public works like arts and education.

However, they are big spenders – with the 4th biggest per capita gambling spend in the world for many years!

India

By advantage of having such a massive population is really the only reason India makes this list.

Many Indians gamble online, despite the legal grey-area status of doing so. It gets very confusing!

Games of skill are allowed nationally. However, games of chance are illegal.

Different states interpret this old law in different ways, though, which has led to a decade of court cases and back and forth between the national government and the states.

However, online sports betting, poker and popular card game rummy are all legal (in most states)

Ireland

Despite not technically being regulated by law, the Irish love to gamble online too. Most betting and casino sites licensed in the UK also offer services to Irish customers, and the government generally doesn’t mind.

That’s because the last time they updated the law was with The Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956. Updating it would be a big task, and the Dáil Éireann (Irish parliament) is reluctant to really get it going.

With Irish customers spending around $3 billion every year, and with a few local betting companies profiting from it too, the situation might not change anytime soon.

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