Global Gambling Industry in Recent Years

From the financial might of the industry, to player specific tendencies, we've broken down all the important numbers and arranged them into bite sized chunks so you can digest them at your leisure.

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!

Table of Contents (click to skip to section)

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.

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

Canada $1.79 US $23.5 UK$3.8 Spain $1.8 France $2.7 Germany $4 Italy $1.74 China$24.3 South Korea $4 Japan $12.4

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 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?

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.

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

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 Flag 1. Macau
Stats for 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.
US flag 2. USA
Stats for the US
The gambling industry in the US is worth $261 billion and holds 1.8 million jobs. Most of these are in Nevada as gambling is actually banned in most states.
UK flag 3. UK
Stats for the UK
With legislation changes, the UK market is steadily growing. In 2018 the British gambling industry made £14.4 billion and it’s estimated that 32% of the population gamble weekly.
image description 4. Australia
Stats for Australia
80% of the Australian population gamble. A recent study showed that they bet more than any other country, spending around $18 billion a year.
image description 5. Canada
Stats for Canada
With a liberal approach to gambling, Canada makes CA$17.3 billion in revenue every year from gambling. The industry grew 4.9% in 2017 and is still growing.

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, sportsbetting, 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 most 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 outlawed everywhere.

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 across the US, 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: Sportsbetting, 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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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.

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

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.

Total gaming turnover (2013-2014)

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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.

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 = CA$53 ($40)
    • Play table games like Roulette/Craps = CA$50 ($38)
    • Play card games like Blackjack = CA$50 ($38)
    • Play slots = CA$50 ($38)
    • Visit a casino bar = CA$25 ($19)

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. 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.

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
Key Titles
Revenue (millions)
Market Share
  • Playtika
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    Slotomania, House of Fun, Bingo Blitz, WSOP, CZR Casino
  • Zynga
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    Zynga Poker, Hit it Rich!, Wizard of Oz Slots, Black Diamond
  • SE
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    Jackpot Party Casino, Gold Fish Casino, Quick Hits, Hot Shots
  • igt
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    DoubleDown Casino
  • Aristocrat
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    Heart of Vegas, FaFaFa - Real Casino Slots, Hollywood Spins
  • GSN Games
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    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%

Most Popular Gambling Games

  1. Casino Games/Slots

    Casino betting is usually lumped in with a general "betting" group that includes bingo and lottery. But casino gambling has risen from 35.1% in 2013 from 32% in 2007.

    According to latest figures among US casino visitors, nearly half (48%) played slots, with just 16% playing blackjack and 6% for poker. Roulette accounted for just 5% of popular play. (Statista).

    The growth in mobile and online slots has led to some huge winners. Progressive jackpots have been responsible for some life-changing wins, with players taking down prizes of $5-7 million in the past few years.

  2. Sportsbetting

    Sportsbetting is a billion-dollar global industry. However, the unregulated sportsbetting market in Asia means the industry as a whole could well be worth many billions more. Illegal betting syndicates in China and elsewhere have been responsible for fortunes being won and lost on sporting events.

    Regulated sportsbetting accounted for $58 billion in the global market. That figure is set to rise over $77 billion in 2016. (Source: European Gaming and Betting Assocation).

  3. Poker

    Online poker has risen since its boom in the early 2000s. The shutdown of US-facing sites has led to a drop-off in internet traffic. And even in regulated markets online poker numbers are struggling. This comes against a general rise in the number of players gambling in live cardrooms.

    The biggest prizes continue to be live, with the World Series of Poker main event champion winning around $7-10 million. The biggest online tournaments attract enough players to award million-dollar first prizes.

  4. Lottery

    Lotteries are legal in many countries, even where traditional betting and casino-style gambling is outlawed. The EGBA predicts a rise in lotteries' share of overall gaming online, from 2.3% in 2013 to 4% in 2016.

    In the UK, the National Lottery raises money for good causes as well as giving players the chance to win massive prizes. Lottery prizes rose 22% between 2012 and 2015, with £3.38 billion paid out in 2012 and £4.13 billion in 2015.

  5. Bingo

    It's estimated there are now about 100 million online bingo players worldwide, 70-80% of whom are women, aged mostly between 30 and 50. In 2015 annual gross-gaming yield for the online bingo industry from UK customers along £128.64 million, or 3% of the entire online gambling market share.

    In 2015 annual gross-gaming yield for the online bingo industry from UK customers along £128.64 million, or 3% of the entire online gambling market share.

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.

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