Gambling on sporting events has been around as long as there have been games to wager on. Betting on sports has really taken off over the last several years. Part of the reason is the opening up of several states in the U.S. At present, over 30 U.S. states have legalized some form of sports betting.
What’s interesting is that even with legal sports betting in 30-plus states, the U.S. is not among the top five most active sports betting countries. That may change in the future as more states approve gambling legislation, but for now here are the countries that are in the top five.
For all the geography and history buffs, remember the United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Sports betting has been legal in the U.K. since 1961. The U.K. was one of the first countries to legalize sports betting and has been a world leader in the industry.
Of all of the countries in Europe, the U.K. sees the most bets placed. Bettors there wager on everything from soccer to American football, hockey, boxing, cricket, and more. There is minimal legislation that prevents sportsbooks from advertising, so the average bettor can easily find a reliable book. Bettors can usually bet at venues as they are normally partnered with sportsbooks.
In terms of gambling yield – income retained by gambling operators after payouts and expenses – the U.K. has one of the highest in the world. The latest numbers from 2019 show the U.K. gambling yield at 14.3 billion pounds, which is the equivalent of $15.8 billion.
The country has over 1 billion people and now that internet access is becoming more available throughout the country sports betting is on the rise. Like the U.S., the various states in India must pass legislation for the gambling to be legal. At the present, most states do not allow legal sports betting.
Despite that, the younger generation in India loves online poker and sports betting. For 2018, the country’s gambling yield was 44 billion rupees ($542 million), which is an incredible number considering most of the country’s population is unable to place bets.
Australia has a long history of gambling that dates back to the early 1800s. Horse betting has been legal ever since, but sports betting was not made legal until 1980. Roughly 80 percent of Australians engage in some kind of gambling. It’s the highest rate in the world. It is estimated that Australians lose $20 to $25 billion each year participating in gambling activities.
The country’s gambling yield checks in around $25 billion Australian dollars which is the equivalent of $16.4 billion.
It’s interesting that China makes this list because of its current government. The country is the most populated in the world, but what puts it on this list is Macau. Macau is a special administrative region where casino gambling and sports betting are legal. In most every other area of the country, these activities are prohibited.
Macau brings in millions of tourists per year and it outperforms Las Vegas in terms of casinos. State lotteries are big in China as is competitive mahjong. When you add it all up, China’s gambling yield is somewhere in the neighborhood of $36.7 billion.
Italians can bet on any sport except dog racing, which was banned in 2002. Sports betting and horse betting account for roughly 15 percent of the Italian gambling market. The Italian gaming revenue reported for 2019 was $19.7 billion.