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Overview of the Size of the Gambling Market outside the UK



For decades, the world of legalized gambling seemed to be centered in the UK (for all forms of gambling) and the U.S. (for casino gambling and lotteries). The numbers became more pronounced around the turn of the century when online casinos and sports gambling were first introduced in the UK. At the same time, U.S. cities all over the country started legalizing retail casino gambling.

That was then, this is now. So much about the international gambling community has changed in just the last 10 years. The result has been the worldwide spread of legalized gambling in countries where it was unimaginable that said activities would ever be legalized. But it is not without a fly in the ointment, often the regulation of gambling fails.

How Online Gambling Has Changed the International Community

After a slow beginning, online gambling started its drive towards becoming an acceptable mainstream form of adult entertainment. This started about 10 years ago. 

The evolution began when a lot of industrialized countries began to realize that the “easy access” nature of the internet was making it easier for its residents to gamble online whether it was legal or not. One by one, the most advanced countries began to adopt an attitude of “if you can’t beat’em, join’em.” With the potential of tax revenue hanging in the balance, several countries in Europe and Asia started passing online gambling legislature in favor of said activities.

The cherry on top of the online gambling sundae came in May of 2018 when the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the nation’s ban on sports betting. They did so after determining it was a “states rights” issue and not something in which the federal government should be involved. The reaction in the U.S. was immediate. Today, thirty states have legalized some form of sports betting (retail/online) and in some cases, online casino gambling.

With online gambling access increasing all across the world, the UK lost some of its prestige as the “Gambling Capital of the World.” Most of the loss of that prestige occurred because online gambling has become the rage in the last three or four years.

By the Numbers

The best way to represent just how big the international gambling market has become is a look at some recent statistics. What people will see is just how surprising a picture all of this data paints. Here are some key stats:

1. Analysts expect worldwide gambling handle to hit half-a-trillion U.S. dollars by 2023.

2. Online Gambling handle worldwide in 2019 was $59 billion, far exceeding original estimates of $43 billion. Note: the increase was due in large part to home lockdowns created by the COVID19 pandemic.

3. Approximately 1.6 billion people around the world gamble in some form on a regular basis throughout any given year. That represents approximately 20% of the world’s population. What’s even more meaningful is all forms of gambling are illegal in China, a country with a population of 1.4 billion people. 

4. Approximate 25% of the world’s population makes at least one bet a year.

5. Sports betting accounts for approximately 50% of all gambling handle and gross gambling revenue from around the world. Analysts expect that number to increase to about 60% as sports betting in the U.S. continues to grow.

6. Per capita, Australian gamblers lose the most amount of money a year at an average of $958 per resident. American gamblers only rank 9th in this category.

7. In 2016, online gambling revenue from around the world was approximately 8% of all gambling revenue recorded. According to the 2023 estimates, that percentage is expected to increase to 15%, driven mostly by the legalization of online gambling in the U.S.

8. In 2017, Macau overtook the U.S. (Las Vegas) in retail casino gambling handle and revenue.

GamStop Stands as the World’s Premier Self-exclusion Option

Regardless of what might be taking place in the gambling industry across the globe, the UK is still the gambling leader in one very important way. They have the premier online self-exclusion program, a program called GamStop. 

GamStop was first introduced for the benefit of UK online problem gamblers in 2018. The program is available to gamblers through the GamStop website or through licensed UK online gambling operators that are mandated by the UK Gambling Commission to subscribe to the program. 

If a problem gambler chooses to voluntarily register with GamStop, they are required to provide personal information like full name, address, home phone, cell phone, and email address or addresses. They also get the opportunity to set their own exclusion timeframe. Once they have completed registration, they are presumably blocked from accessing any existing gambling accounts they have with licensed GamStop subscribed online gambling operators. They will also be blocked from opening new accounts based on the personal information they provided during the registration process. 

While GamStop is very effective at keeping registered gamblers away from licensed UK operators, it does nothing to stop them from seeking alternatives should they have a change of heart about self-exclusion. 

One of the easiest options GamStop gamblers have to get around the program is simply using UK online gambling operators that don’t subscribe to GamStop. That would include 

most of the non-UK licensed casinos currently operating out of the purview of the UK Gambling Commission. 

Other non-GamStop options include:

  • Gambling online through crypto-only casinos and sportsbooks
  • Taking online gambling activities offshore with online operators that are licensed in other jurisdictions/countries
  • Seeking refuge with high-risk operators that do very little account verification
  • Partnering with friends and relatives to open new accounts under their identities

Published by Glusea