Which countries have the biggest online gambling markets?
For better or worse, the online age has reinvented the gambling market. The global industry was worth more than $60 billion in 2021, and that figure is expected to double over the next six to seven years. It’s a rare ray of prosperity in what are otherwise quite dismal economic times. It’s also a sector that still carries certain stigma and that has its own regulations.
It is little wonder under these circumstances that iGaming has almost developed its own marketing bubble when it comes to promotion and SEO. The sector is highly competitive, with both established brands and new entrants keen to take a slice of the 11 percent CAGR that economists are predicting. But one area that is less clear is exactly where this growth will take place. New markets opening up? US states pushing through more legal reforms? Established markets growing organically? Let’s take a look at some of the most important economies for the online gambling sector.
The US online gambling market generated about $2.2 billion in 2020. That represents a significant proportion of the overall market; but of even more interest is the remarkable CAGR of more than 17 percent. In other words, the US market is growing at a faster rate than the global market.
Here, we can see the main causes are a combination of regulatory change and evolving attitudes. Following the striking down of PASPA in 2018; more than 50 percent of US states have legalized sports betting in some form. But it’s also an activity that’s viewed very differently by millennials; who constitute the largest age bracket of online bettors, compared with other generations.
They don’t bet on sport in any sort of scientific way whereby they attempt to predict a winner. Instead, they see placing a bet as part of the experience. They bet on their team in the same spirit as putting on a game shirt before settling in front of the TV. It’s seen as a minor game day expense, and one that might even yield a reward if the team wins.
Historically seen as the home of gambling, the UK led the way in regulating land based casinos and sports betting in the 1960s and approached online gambling with a similar sense of pragmatism. Some of the best-known casino businesses are based in the UK; and a license from the UK Gambling Commission is the industry equivalent of a gold standard.
The UK market is one of the most mature gambling markets in the world; so it is unsurprising that it is not expected to grow at the same rate as the USA. Industry analysts expect a CAGR between five and six percent over the coming years as the popularity of online gambling continues to grow despite the likelihood of more stringent controls in terms of TV advertising, sports sponsorship and so on.
Here we have an interesting case, as strictly speaking; Australia generates no revenue whatsoever from the online gambling sector, as online casinos prohibited. However, what that means is that it is prohibited to operate an online gambling business within the nation. There are no such restrictions regarding the use of online gambling services.
Put simply, if Australian casino enthusiasts want to know where to play online pokies, a quick web search via an independent resource like Gamble Online will quickly direct them towards a range of online casinos that are based offshore but are delighted to welcome Australian players. The same applies to those wishing to place a bet on sports.
Resources like these are important, as without them, Australian casino players can be venturing into the unknown. The Australian market is an important one that attracts plenty of offshore providers. The way it operates makes it difficult to assess financially with accuracy; but industry experts believe it could have been worth as much as $4 billion in 2021.
Scandinavia, and Sweden in particular, has been something of a pioneer in the iGaming industry. In 2019, the sector generated more than $2.5 billion. That equates to an incredible $400 per citizen and accounted for more than five percent of the global online casino industry.
Gaming revenue increased by five percent in 2021. That’s not as high an increase as some countries, but is still impressive; especially in the light of new gambling limits that were imposed during the pandemic. These restrictions were lifted in January 2022.
Like its neighbour to the south, Canada’s online gambling industry is undergoing a dramatic period of change. Ontario officially opened its online gambling market in April 2022, joining Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. Last year, the online betting industry generated more than $1.2 billion; and that is expected to increase fourfold over the coming decade.
The exact size of the market could be even bigger than it appears. The Canadian government is well aware that for years, Canadians tended to prefer offshore providers as they did not impose the same restrictions as those holding local licenses. It is a situation that the regulators have worked hard to address over the past couple of years; but old habits die hard, and it will undoubtedly take time for the true size of the Canadian market to reveal itself in full.
This island nation made most of its revenue from tourism – until the online casino sector started to accelerate. With a population of only 500,000, Malta does not contribute dramatically to global gambling revenue. But it is nevertheless pivotal to the industry. Favourable tax rules and other regulations have encouraged literally dozens of iGaming companies to set up their headquarters in Malta.
The Malta Gaming Authority has become the premier licensing body in Europe, and is one of the most respected in the world. The nation issued a revised Gaming Act in 2018 that it even more appealing for casino operators. For example, the new regulations simplified the licensing process and eliminated gaming tax to avoid double taxation.