Global gambling industry in recent years

Whether it's a poker player calculating their pot equity, a roulette spinner running through their odds of victory or an operator releasing their latest revenue report, numerical data permeates every inch of gambling. Get a handle on the figures to make the most of your game!

Gambling around the world: The big picture

Before we drill down into the minute details, let's first take a broad brush and paint-by-(the large)-numbers. The gambling industry is a varied and sometimes complex beast, but when you look beneath the hood you'll see that its numbers make for positive reading.

Starting from the top, the most important stat for gamblers as it stands today is the value of the industry as a whole. Split into two main verticals, live and online, the gambling world has experienced impressive growth over the last five years.

The graph on the left shows the data for online gambling in billions, while the graph on the right shows the data for gambling overall in billions.

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Breaking it down country-by-country for gambling profits, we see China and the US topping the list. (2015 figures)

🇨🇳 China
🇺🇸 US
🇯🇵 Japan
🇩🇪 Germany
🇰🇷 South Korea
🇬🇧 UK
🇫🇷 France
🇪🇸 Spain
🇨🇦 Canada
🇮🇹 Italy

Online gambling statistics

World gambling statistics show that around 26% of the population gamble. That means around 1.6 billion people worldwide gamble and 4.2 billion gamble at least once every year. When it comes to online gambling and demographic statistics, a UK study concludes that 17% of the population gamble online, resulting in £5.3 billion in revenue for the online market alone.

In the US the numbers are quite different, in 2016 only 3% out of the 4.2 billion who said they gamble regularly said they played online. This number must have gone up in the following years however, as the revenue in 2018 landed on $306.5 billion for the US online gambling market.

Who's doing worst?


The gambling industry continues to prove that it's one of the most vibrant entertainment economies in the world

When it comes to gambling on an individual scale, Aussies' currently lead the way. In 2014, Australians gambled over $916 per person, with Singaporeans coming a close second on $891.16. Singapore only recently legalized casino gambling, and the per-head spend isn't a surprise.

Despite being the home of Las Vegas, Americans are a distant third on $505.44 per capita, with Ireland and its liberal approach to gambling next on $490.39. The UK, with legal land-based and online gambling, and boasting one of the world's premier licensing jurisdictions, sits way back on $377.83.

Another interesting top 10 member is Malta. The small Mediterranean island boasts a small population but one of the largest per-capita losses anywhere in the world. Malta is a leading gaming jurisdiction that is home to many of the world's biggest online gambling sites and affiliates.

Gambling Losses Per Adult (2014) (All in US dollars)

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Gambling Losses per Country 2016 (USD, Billions)

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Global gambling industry: The house always wins

As always, stats are a matter of perspective, so when you look through the list of global gambling losses, you're also looking at the gambling wins for operators. With that in mind, here's a breakdown of the top 10 places for gambling revenue based on visitors.

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It's interesting that Macau tops the list of per-head revenue. But Chinese nationals don't register on our top list of gambling losses. Macau's tourist business has struggled recently, but visitors still ensure that the former Portuguese colony keeps Macau way on top.

Australia seems to rank highly in terms of losses and revenue. The country boasts more "pokies" (slot machines) than most countries, and that's in a country that only has 22 million people.

Top gambling centres

When it comes to gambling, we're all equal. Regardless of where you live, the games you play or the amount you wager, we're all battling against the odds when we ante-up live or online. However, like a stack of casino chips, some countries have risen up higher than others over the last few years.

So which country gambles the most? Through a combination of regulation, innovation and effective promotion, the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Macau have emerged as gambling gurus since the turn of the millennium.

Let's take a look at the major players in 2023, and how they're using their industries to turn them into world gaming leaders. Click the “Stats for” to jump down to each country section.

🇲🇴 Macau

Although gambling is illegal in mainland China, Macau is a gambling haven. 50% of Macau’s revenue is made up from gambling alone. In 2018 the city made almost $38 billion.

1. Macau

Biggest games: Casino

China has a love-hate relationship with gambling. It has state-run lotteries that cater for its 1 billion-plus residents, but most online and live gambling is outlawed. The big problem China has, or at least its government, is what to do with Macau.

The former Portuguese colony now boasts one of the world's largest gambling centers. It acts as a Special Administrative Region in China. And while it's not completely governed from Beijing, it has had to endure immense pressure from the mainland to wean itself off gambling revenue.

How it's governed: The Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) oversees gambling in Macau. The DICJ also provides support to the Chief Executive of Macau in arranging economic plans for the city.

There are 38 casinos in Macau, including major projects from global players like Sands and Wynn, and Melco Crown.

Revenue from casino games in Macau 2016 (2015):

  • January 2016: 18,674 million MOP (MOP 23,478)
  • February 2016: 19,521 million MOP (MOP19,542)
  • March 2016: 17,981 million MOP (MOP21,487)
  • April 2016: 17,341 million MOP (MOP19,167)
  • May 2016: 18,389 million MOP (MOP20,346)

Overall in Macau, gross gaming revenue (GGR) has been on the decline for a few years. A clampdown on cash flowing from China to Macau has led to many casinos struggling. A new direction for casinos into 'mass market' entertainment may see a change in Macau's fortunes. Otherwise, VIPs and high rollers will continue to find new places to gamble like Australia, Singapore, and the Philippines.

2. United States of America

Games: Poker, casinos, sports betting, horseracing, lottery, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), bingo

With Macau, the US still leads the way in global gambling, with the heartland of Nevada helping out with its liberal casino industry.

While many states have banned online gambling, many have legalized casinos, either on tribal reserves or run privately. State lotteries exists in most US states too.

In 2013, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware became the first states to regulate online gaming for the first time. Nevada now operates online poker sites, while Delaware and New Jersey have legal online casinos and poker sites. Sportsbetting on the web is available in a few states, though remains outlawed in many.

According to UNLV stats, commercial casino gaming revenues in the USA have been on the rise steadily for a few years:

Commercial casino gaming profits in the US:

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Understandably, Nevada leads the way with $11,113,830 in 2015 in terms of its share of US casino gambling. But New Jersey has had a torrid time. The home of Atlantic City has seen casinos close as its casino revenue has dropped from $5.2 million in 2006 to $2.5 million in 2015.

New Jersey legalized online gambling in 2013 after the relaxation of internet gambling laws. The Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) oversees legal internet gaming in the Garden State.

How much does gambling bring in a year? In 2017 the overall gross revenue was $158.54 billion, in 2018 however this reached $161.24 billion. In 2017 the largest share came from Pari-Mutuel betting. By the next year it had shifted to Bookmaking, showing a $430 million revenue alone.

How it's governed: Lotteries, casino and sportsbooks are governed on a state-by-state basis. Sportsbetting is still banned online in many US states, but the law is being challenged with a rise in popularity of DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports). Nevada and New Jersey have legalized land-based casinos, with some legal online gambling. California and Florida have thriving legal live poker industries. However, both states have resisted calls to legalize online poker. Pennsylvania recently liberalized both its land-based and online gambling markets.

3. United Kingdom

Games: Sports betting, poker, lottery, bingo, horseracing, casino, mobile gaming, social gaming

One of the original gambling markets and a leader when it comes to regulation courtesy of the UK Gambling Commission, the UK has posted some impressive numbers in recent years. From the number of betting outlets to the overall size of the market, the UK is undoubtedly a great gambling nation.

The UK has land-based casinos and poker rooms, bingo and a regulated national lottery. Brits are also allowed to gamble for real money on mobile and online gambling websites.

Gambling participation in the UK by age

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In the UK, online and mobile betting accounted for Gross Gaming Yield (GGY) of £710.19 million in 2011-12.

How it's governed: Gambling in the United Kingdom is overseen by the UK Gambling Commission, a regulatory body set up in 2005 after the then-Labour government decided to open up the laws surrounding gambling.

The UKGC is responsible for monitoring casinos and issuing online licenses to gambling websites. As of 2014, when the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act was introduced, all offshore betting sites wanting to supply UK customers must pay "Point of Consumption" tax and acquire a UK Gambling Commission license.

Online gambling in the UK: Remote betting has grown hugely in the UK. Online and mobile betting accounted for Gross Gaming Yield (GGY) of £710.19 million in 2011-12. Under new legislation, that rose to £3.6 billion for the period 2014-15. Brits over 18 are allowed to gamble at land-based casinos, online and via mobile.

There has been controversy surrounding so-called FOBTs (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals) in land-based bookmakers. These gaming terminals offer casino-style slots and roulette to punters walking in off the high street. Despite campaigns to limit bets and the pace of players' losses, FOBTs continue to bolster a huge homegrown betting industry.

Online gambling participation In the UK by age

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4. Australia

Always an innovator with regards to connecting the industry and the wider community, Australia has maintained its gaming dominance for more than a decade. Through a combination of pokies helping to fund local sports, Asian tourists visiting live casinos and a flourishing online economy, Australia has posted some impressive gambling stats in recent years.

Distribution of Aussie gamblers by age (from 2011)

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Distribution of Aussie gamblers by gender (from 2011)

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Total gaming turnover (2013-2014)

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Distribution of Aussie gamblers by age (from 2015)

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Distribution of Aussie gamblers by gender (from 2015)

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Controversial "pokies" (poker machines) dominate the homegrown industry Down Under. These are the local name for slots or fruit machines. As well as land-based casinos in Melbourne and Sydney, pokies can be found in pubs and clubs across most states. In Western Australia, pokies are currently restricted to casinos. However, that could change.

Latest figures show that 2.9 million Aussies over 18 played pokie machines, around 16 percent of the country's adult population. 42 percent played once a week.

However, sportsbetting is on the rise. State-run TAB outlets allow Australians to bet on a range of sports.

How it's governed: Individual states have the power to allow local operators to house poker machines. In Victoria, Tabcorp and Tatts run a duopoly on live sportsbetting and lottery.

The Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) 2001 was recently updated to outlaw so-called 'in-play' betting on sports in Australia. Some online sportsbetting sites do operate in Australia, mainly licensed in Northern Territory, but online casinos are banned. Many offshore online casinos based overseas continue to allow Aussies to register.

AU$156.9 billion ($116 billion)

Total value of the Australian gambling industry (2013-2014)

5. Canada

A hub for a number of online gambling operators and software providers, Canada has benefited from its liberal approach to gambling (unlike its North American neighbor). Thanks to this blend of innovation and regulation, the Canadian industry is now one of the leading gambling regions in the world.

As well as major land-based casinos in British Columbia and Ontario, Canada also boasts one of the world's key online gambling jurisdictions. Kahnawake outside Montreal hosts the KGC (Kahnawake Gaming Commission) which licenses online casinos and poker sites.

  • Number of gaming areas in the Canadian gambling industry (2014) = 34,955
  • Number of times millennials visited casinos as of Jan 2014:
  • Once or twice per year = 53%
  • Once every three to five months = 17%
  • At least once per month = 19%
  • Average spend per player per casino visit:
  • Play card games like Poker = C$53 ($40)
  • Play table games like Roulette/Craps = C$50 ($38)
  • Play card games like Blackjack = C$50 ($38)
  • Play slots = C$50 ($38)
  • Visit a casino bar = C$25 ($19)

Number of gaming areas in the Canadian gambling industry

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Number of times millennials visited casinos as of Jan 2014

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Average spend per player per casino visit (CAD)

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Number of venues and designated gaming areas in the Canadian gambling industry (2015-2016)

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Activity Participation – Casino Visitors – Mean Spend (2015-2016)

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It is estimated that at least 76% of adult Canadians engage in some form of gambling with online casinos and slots coming out on top. As of 2017, that percentage represents almost 30 million Canadians. (Exact number: 29,650,033). Canada`s betting industry is estimated to generate over $15.5B per year.

CA$15.1 billion ($11.6 billion)

Total value of the Canadian gambling industry in 2010

How the best of the rest stack up

While the UK, Australia and Canada might hold the largest stacks in the industry, that doesn't mean the rest of the world is sitting without any chips.

Before we conclude our gambling stat attack, let's take a quick look at some of the most impressive figures from some of the world's emerging talents.

  • Despite being a relatively new market in terms of gambling, 44% of Singaporeans aged 18 and over participated in some form of gambling in 2014.
  • Germans win, on average, $115 each and every year; a figure that makes it the 9th ranked country in terms of per capita wins.
  • Russia's annual gambling losses in 2013 totaled $2.7 billion.
  • Now seen as the largest live casino hub in the world, Macau managed to attract 31.5 million visitors in 2014.
  • In 2014, a total of 3.9 million players registered with online gambling sites in Spain.
  • With a population of 127 million, Japan has plenty of people to bolster the country's gambling industry. Japanese gamblers spent $31 billion in 2013, according to one report.

The rise of social gambling/casino

In 2016, the global social casino market was estimated at $3.81 billion. The social casino market has grown at a CAGR of +23% since 2013. By 2017, the social casino sector was expected to hit the jackpot, generating $4.4 billion. Analysts project the industry will reach $4.63 billion by CY20, implying a 4-year CAGR of 5%.

In 2015 there were an estimated 173 million gamers worldwide.

Worldwide Social Casino Publishers - Market Share

In 2016, Playtika remained the largest social casino publisher with 25.4% market share, followed by SciGames Interactive with 8.4% market share, and Zynga at 8.1% market share. Combined, the top 3 companies accounted for 42% of the total social casino game market, while the top 15 accounted for roughly 83%.

Top Social Casino Publishers in 2016

Rank Company Key titles Revenue (millions) Market share
Slotomania, House of Fun, Bingo Blitz, WSOP, CZR Casino
Zynga Poker, Hit it Rich!, Wizard of Oz Slots, Black Diamond
Scientific Games
Jackpot Party Casino, Gold Fish Casino, Quick Hits, Hot Shots
DoubleDown Casino
Heart of Vegas, FaFaFa - Real Casino Slots, Hollywood Spins
GSN Games
Bingo Bash, GSN Casino, Fresh Deck Poker, Mirrorbal

As of 2016, North America remained the biggest social casino market of all regions, reaching 1.7 billion U.S. dollars, followed by Asia and Europe.

Across the U.S, U.K., and Australia, 37% of PC and mobile players play social casino games, such as slots, poker, bingo, blackjack, roulette, and baccarat. Slots emerge as the most popular type of social casino game, played by 53% of social casino players.

The U.K. is home to the largest share of players, with 58%

The great iGaming equation

As we can see from the statistics, the gambling industry is currently thriving. From live casinos in Canada to the online economy in Spain, the number of players anteing up is clearly on the up.

Although the global recession and regulatory issues have caused parts of the gambling industry to develop slower than expected over the last decade, the overall balance sheet is still in the black. In fact, as we head towards the future, the advent of technology such as mobile casinos, live dealer games and, potentially, virtual reality, are helping to take annual revenue to record levels.

So, whether you're an operator, a player or just someone with a penchant for numbers, the gambling industry continues to prove that it's one of the most vibrant entertainment economies in the world.

Predicting the Future of World Gambling

There is arguably no industry in the world today that can match the sheer growth and drive of online gambling. Across the globe, innovation is taking hold, with more brands than ever competing for player attention and more people laying down wagers as a result.

Considering the current state of world gambling, everyone is now looking to the future. But - as most will already attest - predicting the future of the gambling world is no easy feat. Helping to make the situation a little clearer, we’ve broken down the data to give you a heads up on what’s to come.


Set to top $635 billion

What’s immediately apparent is the astounding value of the casino industry in 2017, with it’s predicted value set to reach $635 billion in the coming years. Breaking this stat down further, it’s worth looking at the two key components in casino gaming’s growth – that being the United States and United Kingdom. In the United States, predicted cash revenues are expected to hit $21.14 billion, while in the UK predicted online gambling revenue should reach $4 billion. These two figures alone make up what should be a 5.7% growth of the global gambling market before 2022

The growth related to casino play, in general, is huge, but practically all of this has occurred in the online domain. Land-based casino play is still on the downturn – apart from within a few select regions - much like it has been in recent years. As new online markets open up, we can only assume that online casino industry will continue to dwarf land-based operations.


Europe leads the way

The largest market for online gambling is Europe, but this probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone. Across the globe during 2015 the EU market made up 47.6% of the €34.6 billion of online gaming gross win (stakes minus winnings) generated. While the success of online gambling in Europe is pretty well known, what’s helping the continent be seen as the leader in gambling is its level of innovation, especially through the growth of successful casino platforms.

However, considering the somewhat fragile nature of EU politics since Brexit, questions are being raised about how economic protectionism will impact gambling in Europe in years to come.


The power of Macau

Macau’s gambling habits have always been prominent, with the statistics showing that gambling activity is only growing on Chinese shores. Year-on-year monthly growth in Macau casino revenue remains at a steady 1.1%. This puts Macau on course to smash yearly targets with regards to gross gaming revenue.

According to current data based upon infrastructure, visitation, and rising spending growth, it could reach as high as $53 billion by 2022. This data comes from a Morgan Stanley report titled “Macau 2022 - Power of Compounding”. In the report, the analyst states, “We think the quality of growth will be better, as more than 80 percent of the forecast profit should come from the mass market segment. The 2018 opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge was a game-changing infrastructure development, connecting HK and Macau regions with the city of Zhuhai on mainland China. The city's Hengqin island also continued its enormous development project, with the aim of making the entire connected region a world centre of leisure, tourism and gaming. We also think that by 2022, there will be clarity around license renewal, development capex and infrastructure ramp.”

Powered by strong and consistent growth figures, Macau may be the only place in the world – excluding Las Vegas - where land-based casino play is truly flourishing.


Australia’s increasing presence

Looking at the state of world gambling country by country, the gambling levels in the US, UK, China, and Japan are already well documented. What won’t be so obvious is Australia’s roll in the industry’s growth. Statistics show that the average loss per gambler in Australia towers over that of other nations, coming in at a little under $1,000. Singapore comes in second on that list, with the average loss per adult being around $650.

With Australian players willing to part with higher than average amounts of disposable income, Australia is certainly going to have a role to play in the future of online casino gaming.


The rise of female gamblers

There is another major factor that needs to be addressed outside of nation-by-nation progress, this being the number of females taking up gambling, as they are now playing a more active role in profit margins than ever before. Women now account for approximately 40% of all gambling activity in the UK, according to data issued by UKGC.

For women, games such as bingo have always proved to be popular, but it appears that many are now moving onto other games – specifically slots – as each year goes by.

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