Biggest Gambling Countries

betting systemsThere’s little doubt that gambling has reached all corners of the Earth, and while in some circumstances it has been quite the illegal activity, other locations have embraced it in its fullest form.

Of course betting and playing games for money has become much more popular in some countries than it has in others but what exactly are the biggest gambling countries in the world? Why has it become such a popular pastime in these places and not others? Let’s take a look at these countries and find out what gambling options citizens can access and what regulations are operational within.

The United Kingdom

Overall Gambling Yield Avg. Amount Spent Per Head 10-Year % Increase/Decrease
£14.3 billion £214.40 per year 70.2% increase

uk union jack flagIf you were to look at the gambling activity around the world, the United Kingdom comes out on top in terms of this. Residents of the country can participate in gambling, both offline and online, from the age of 18 years (or 16 years for those wanting to engage in playing The National Lottery). 

The total Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) for the United Kingdom between October 2018 and September 2019 stood at £14.3 billion, with the online sector providing the biggest part of this. In total, 38.6% of the overall market GGY was contributed by the remote gambling industry, with the biggest part of that coming from slot games at casino sites. Granted, that overall GGY total was down by around £60,000 on the previous year’s figures, but it remains as a highly popular industry within the UK.

gambling market share

The UK also has a great reputation where online sports betting is concerned, with figures from last year suggesting that £2.1 billion of the overall GGY figure had come from such, led by football and horse racing bets.

With regard to the non-remote sector, this proved to be the third largest contributor to overall GGY, with figures standing at £2.8 billion.

The United Kingdom has an exceptionally liberal market when it comes to gambling, though. In that instance, the figures make quite a lot of sense, and the fact that it exists as one of the world’s biggest gambling countries is understandable. Many of the world’s largest sports betting platforms, like Bet365 and William Hill, are operated from within the UK as well, even though they serve customers worldwide.


Overall Gambling Yield Avg. Amount Spent Per Head 10-Year % Increase/Decrease
44,000,000,000 INR (£473,000,000) 32 INR (£0.32) 115.7% increase (since 2014)

india flagIndia is a huge country in itself anyway, so it would be quite the common thought process to believe that the more people within a country, the more potential for gambling activity there is. Well, that theory is correct in general, but India actually has quite a strong stance on gambling activity. In fact, it was completely banned there for a very long time, and this led to underground gambling setups occurring within the country instead.

Now, with the internet becoming much more commonplace within India, a rise in gambling participation has been witnessed throughout. This is especially true in the case of online poker, which has seen a huge boost and influx of Indian gamers in recent years. Sports betting has also become a popular pastime, which has led to many platforms opening their services up to the Indian market, so as to capitalised on this. With cricket being the country’s most beloved sport, it’s little wonder that this receives the biggest number of sports bets.

As mentioned though, sports betting and online poker are not legal throughout India. Instead, different state governments have decided upon its legality for residents, meaning that it is only accessible within some areas. As far as land-based gambling is concerned, horse racing bets are readily welcomed, but only via the racecourses themselves. India does not permit the setup of retail bookmakers throughout the country.

When you consider that the activity is fairly illegal in many states of India though, it’s amazing that it has managed to become one of the biggest gambling countries in the world. With younger people engaging in poker gameplay though, and sports betting becoming much more accepted, statistics suggest that income from gambling in India for the 2018 period was 44 billion Indian rupees (£473 million). That’s quite the increase from 2014’s 20.3 billion INR (£218.2 million). And those figures stand out even more considering that options such as online casinos, bingo gaming and such aren’t active in much of the country, too.


Overall Gambling Yield Avg. Amount Spent Per Head 10-Year % Increase/Decrease
AUD$24,887,000,000 (£13,366,800,000) AUD$1,292.25 per year (£694.07) 30.5% increase

australian flagSports betting stands out as being a primary pastime for many Australians, and it is actually one of the countries to possess one of the most developed sports betting markets. Wagering on horse races was actually legalised in Australia in 1810, although it wasn’t until 1980 that sports betting was made available for additional sporting events. However, over the years, an increase in betting on slot machines (or ‘pokies’, as they’re known in Australia) has been witnessed there.

According to statistics, the average loss per adult on gambling amounted to about $990 in 2016, which was the largest figure globally at the time. It was one year later that the Sunday Morning Herald reported on Australians losing $24 billion every year through participating in gambling activities.

This figure may seem quite extreme, but when you consider that reports suggest that over 80% of Australians engage in some sort of gambling every year, it’s not difficult to understand. It remains the highest rate of gambling in the world, despite the fact that the government has undertaken certain measures in recent times in a bid to curb this. Of course, the fact that around 80,000 to 160,000 Australian adults have experienced significant gambling problems in recent times has forced their hand in this, too.

In the 2015-16 period, gambling revenue provided 7.7% of the state and territory tax revenue. The rate for this was lowest in Western Australia at 2.5%, while the Northern Territory had the highest rate at 12%. Back in the 2008-09 period, gambling revenue in Australia was just over the $19 billion mark with the share of household consumption being 3.1%.

The Commonwealth has taken quite the active role in the regulation of gambling in Australia, although State and Territory authorities also play a role in this, with each area having its own regulatory body.

Online gambling operators are not allowed to provide citizens of Australia with interactive gambling options though, as of 2001. Advertising such products, like casino and poker gaming, is also illegal. Yet, by 2010, the amount spent on online gaming by Australians had reached a large $800 million figure.

China (incl. Macau and Hong Kong)

Overall Gambling Yield Avg. Amount Spent Per Head 10-Year % Increase/Decrease
US $36,700,000,000 (Macau)  Unknown Unknown

china flagThere’s little doubt that China is one of the world’s largest countries by size, but it’s also one of the world’s largest enthusiasts over gambling. This is, generally speaking, completely in terms of sports betting options within the country. The only location in China that offers casino gambling is the special administrative region of Macau. As it happens, this has grown to be the largest gambling sector in the world, bringing masses of tourists into its establishments every year. Even Las Vegas doesn’t have anything on the casinos in Macau.

In all other Chinese locations, land-based casino and gambling establishments are banned, with punishments being handed out for the setup of such. State lotteries remain in action, as does the aforementioned sports betting, and so does competitive mah-jong. In fact, annual income from those forms of betting reaches around $50 billion, although this has led to quite the increasing problem with gambling amongst minors, too. As it happens, the lotteries contribute the largest portion of this. The casinos based within Macau add to that figure with at least an extra $21 billion on average, and around 2/3 of that sum comes from VIP casino players.

Some of the aspects from mainland China also apply to the administrative region of Hong Kong where gambling is concerned. Certain forms of gambling are legal and regulated there, though. Naturally, it was a British territory until 1997, so it stands to reason that some of the laws remain in operation there from that period of rule. The Hong Kong Jockey Club organises much of the region’s legal betting. Of course, revenue from such usually goes to the government of Hong Kong, whereas Macau’s is dedicated to the government of China.

As with India, it’s quite amazing that such a huge revenue from gambling can be generated within a country that has deemed many forms of betting illegal. Because of those laws, many Chinese citizens have turned to offshore sites to satisfy their gambling requirements, with platforms based in places like Singapore, Vietnam and Korea readily welcoming such players. Of course, none of the money deposited and spent at such sites contributes towards the Chinese revenue from gambling.


Overall Gambling Yield Avg. Amount Spent Per Head 10-Year % Increase/Decrease
US $4,400,000,000 (£3,443,000,000) US $777.93 (£610.46) 41.7% decrease (since 2013)

singapore flagIt may only have been 2010 when Singapore opened its very first casino, but since that time, it has become quite the gambling hub for players. In fact, it wasn’t entirely thought to be a good thing for Singapore – the opening of casinos. Some people believed it would create large money losses and masses of people becoming addicted to the pastime. For this reason, the government has sought to discourage locals from entering casinos in Singapore by charging an entry fee of $81!

At the same time, families have the ability to ban certain members of their household with the Family Exclusion Orders. That hasn’t stopped the gambling spirit in Singapore though, with the country recording an average of $1,174 losses per adult in 2010. With the introduction of its casinos and gambling opportunities though, the location has become quite the tourist hotspot as well. Not that it wasn’t such before, but gamblers are coming from far and wide to participate in the gambling opportunities within now.

The Singapore Tourist Board released figures in 2018 that showed visitors to the country had spent around $1.5 billion on gambling each year. Then again, with two casinos opening up within two months of one another in 2010, it’s little surprise that Singapore has managed to capitalise on this trend. By 2013, the total combined gross gaming revenue of the two casinos had reached a total of 7,660,000,000 Singaporean dollars.

Additionally, when compared with some of the other big gambling countries in the world, Singapore is certainly giving them a run for their money. A total gambling participation rate of 52% in 2017 was recorded for Singapore, outdoing the UK’s figure of 48% and Macau’s figure of 51.5%.

It was also announced in 2019 that entrance fees charged at Singaporean casinos had delivered almost $1 billion to the government. So, while foreign guests can access the country’s casinos for free, it’s clear that citizens of Singapore also still have a strong intent to engage in gambling. And while Singapore’s casinos have declined in revenue since their peak of $7.66 billion in 2013, they’re still providing a large amount of revenue to the government.