Worldwide Gambling and Sports Betting Firmly on the Rise

  • Despite different contexts, gambling is increasing in various regions worldwide
  • Ohio and Massachusetts recently joined more than 30 states that have legalized sports betting
  • Europe’s gross gaming revenue reflected a 22% increase from that of 2021
  • Macau, however, is quickly falling as China continues to struggle with COVID recovery
Poker chips on a world map
Gambling and sports betting are becoming more and more prominent in different regions worldwide. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Sports betting success continues

Sports betting and general gambling are becoming more and more the focus of worldwide entertainment. 

the power of the gambling community is only going to increase

Regions in the world have responded to the growth of wagering differently, some being more welcoming than others, but the increasing influence of operators cannot be ignored. As the economic effects of COVID continue to decline, the power of the gambling community is only going to increase.

Here’s a look at what’s going on in a few major gambling locations.

United States

The United States welcomed widespread sports betting thanks to a 2018 federal court decision that allowed states to determine the future of local betting markets. 36 states and Washington, D.C. have since decided to take the plunge and legalize sports betting, including a couple of recent additions.

Ohio inaugurated its market at 12:01am New Year’s Day after more than a year of build-up. 81-year-old Cincinnati Reds legend Pete Rose placed the first legal sports bet at the Hard Rock Casino despite serving a lifetime ban from baseball after he was found to have gambled a minimum of $10,000 on multiple games during his playing days.

a bubbling Midwest betting market

Ohio joins Illinois, Michigan, and other nearby states in a bubbling Midwest betting market just a few months after Illinois became the second-highest-grossing sports betting state. The Cincinnati Bengals, last season’s AFC champions, are still alive for the number-one seed and are a viable Super Bowl contender, which could push betting participation through the roof should they achieve similar success to last year when the playoffs start in a couple of weeks.

Massachusetts is soon to debut its sports betting market after Governor Charlie Baker signed off on a bill in August. Retail sports betting will begin on January 31, and online wagering has an expected launch date of March. Three local casinos have already been approved to handle in-person bets.

Las Vegas, meanwhile, is almost back at pre-pandemic levels of tourism and is handling as many bets as ever. Numerous parties are plotting development in the area as they look to get in before prices skyrocket too high.

Europe

European gambling is alive and well. According to data aggregated by the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) and H2 Gambling Capital, the continent’s gambling activity is up 8% on pre-pandemic levels.

the revenue represented a 22% increase from 2021

Europe’s gross gaming revenue for 2022 was reported at €108.5bn ($114.26bn). On top of outperforming 2019 numbers, the revenue represented a 22% increase from 2021. That’s a resounding victory for gaming companies and one that has not come easy.

European countries have been faced with several divisive issues affecting gambling policy. Last May, Belgium and the Netherlands blocked the use of loot boxes in games, causing video game companies to cancel game launches.

Several countries, including the United Kingdom and Germany, have also been closely exploring limiting gambling advertisements. The former has been of extreme importance due to the connection between sports betting and the Premier League, a worldwide draw for sports fans and bettors alike.

Regardless of the tension, the returns speak for themselves. The EGBA’s data shows that 29.8 million local users submitted a total of 111.6 billion sports bets worth €202.9bn ($213.68bn). 53% of online bets came from mobile devices, up from 2021’s 51% and 2019’s 46%.

Asia

Asia’s path back to “normal” gambling is the least clear of the regions mentioned. The proliferation of illegal outlets and continued outbreaks of COVID have caused serious recurring problems for operators.

a 51.4% decline on 2021 and the lowest yearly total since 2004

Macau, a southern Chinese region, is the most famous gambling center in the east-Asian market. It produced $36.6bn in gross gambling revenue in 2019, but according to the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, that number fell to just $5.25bn in 2022. That was also a 51.4% decline on 2021 and the lowest yearly total since 2004.

The fleeting returns are already causing Macau’s decision-makers to plot a path with less emphasis on gambling. As per newly-granted license agreements between Macau and its six casinos, the latter will invest over $15bn into non-gaming areas such as hospitality, medicine, and conference hosting. 

Other parts of mainland China are struggling to eliminate illegal gambling outlets based in the Philippines and within China itself, which has led to a series of high-profile arrests

All of this is happening under the context of an increasingly dire COVID situation. On top of the growing number of cases, China has often employed a “zero-COVID policy” that has sent cities into lockdown if just one case is spotted. According to the World Health Organization, China had nearly 120k confirmed COVID cases as recently as mid-December.