Although gambling may be restricted in some parts of the world, humans have loved to gamble for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence of gambling can be found from as early as 3,000 BCE in ancient Mesopotamia, but some scientists believe that our obsession with wagering may even date back to the time of cavemen!

It’s little wonder therefore that gambling remains popular around the world today. Indeed, online gambling is big business, both in countries where it is legal and in those where it is not. Gambling is a billion dollar industry, covering everything from sports betting to casinos to the humble pokies you find around Australia.

Naturally, countries which have legalised gambling are those which gamble the most. But how does Australia compare to the rest of the world? The Economist analysed gambling data from around the world to discover what country gambles the most per person, and the results might surprise you. Read on to learn which country gambles the most!

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10. United Kingdom 🇬🇧

  • Most Popular Game ­­­– National Lottery
  • Most Popular Casino – Hippodrome Casino, London

Unsurprisingly, the Brits love to gamble! In the UK, the National Lottery is something of a national pastime: 27.2% of British adults bought a lottery ticket at least once in 2022.

Scratchies, also promoted by the National Lottery, are also incredibly popular as is betting on horse racing. After all, our obsession with horse racing can trace its roots back to Britain.

Similarly to Australia, the UK still loves bingo with both online bingo and traditional bingo halls drawing in big business night after night. For many Brits, heading to the casino remains a stalwart of a night out as most large cities in the UK have at least one casino.

The main exception is Northern Ireland which, due to its distinct legal system, has no casinos whatsoever. Northern Irish punters will have to head across the Irish Sea to legally enjoy their favourite table games. Thank goodness Aussies don’t have to head to New Zealand to play pokies!

9. Italy 🇮🇹

  • Most Popular Game – Blackjack
  • Most Popular Casino – Casinó di Campione d’Italia

Let’s face it: who wouldn’t want to live in Italy? It’s an historic country with some of the most beautiful cities, amazing landscapes, and the tastiest food in the world. But did you know that Italy is also the home of many classic casino games? Both baccarat and bingo originally came from Italy, but blackjack online is currently the favourite of Italian gamblers.

Italians love betting on their sports. Whether they’re betting on the calcio (soccer to you and me) or the Scuderia Ferrari in Formula 1, sports betting is a massive industry in Italy.

Italians also have plenty of options when it comes to visiting casinos. The most fascinating is the Casinó di Campione d’Italia which can be found in an Italian exclave, completely surrounded by Switzerland. This is the largest casino in Europe and offers unmatched views across Lake Lugano.

8. Norway 🇳🇴

  • Most Popular Game – Roulette
  • Most Popular Casino – There are no Casinos in Norway

Spare a thought for our Norwegian friends: there are no casinos in the entire country. Indeed, gambling is completely regulated by the Norwegian Government which offers various online casino games, sports betting, and the lottery exclusively.

Although there is officially a state monopoly on gambling in Norway, many Norwegians opt for offshore casinos which offer a wider range of games and casino bonus deals.

7. Canada 🇨🇦

  • Most Popular Game – Poker
  • Most Popular Casino – Casino de Montréal

The Great White North may not have the glitz and glamour of their Southern neighbours, but Canadians have plenty of options when it comes to gambling. Almost every province and territory offer at least one casino. These casinos are incredibly diverse: you can gamble in downtown Montreal, just steps away from Niagara Falls, or on a First Nations Reservation just outside Banff National Park.

Playing at an online casino for real money is increasingly popular in Canada. This is especially true for those Canadians who have to deal with -25 Celsius winters! It must be pleasant to cosy up with a hot chocolate and play some online poker for real money!

6. New Zealand 🇳🇿

  • Most Popular Game – Pokies
  • Most Popular Casino – SkyCity Auckland

Although Australia and New Zealand have a friendly rivalry, Aussies and Kiwis are a lot alike. We both love cricket, rugby, and real money pokies! In fact, there are 17,799 pokies in New Zealand as of 2022. Gambling is strictly regulated in New Zealand: New Zealand companies cannot advertise or offer online gambling services, but Kiwis can choose to gamble at offshore casinos if they choose.

There are currently six casinos in New Zealand, including SkyCity Auckland. SkyCity Auckland is located at the base of the Sky Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere.

5. United States of America 🇺🇸

  • Most Popular Game – Blackjack
  • Most Popular Casino – Bellagio, Las Vegas
Las Vegas strip
The Las Vegas Strip features some of the most iconic casinos in the world.

Perhaps surprisingly, the USA doesn’t top our list of the countries which gamble the most. Although the US does gamble the most overall, Americans don’t gamble as much per capita. The legal situation of gambling, and online gambling, across America is incredibly varied. Most states have at least one casino, many of which are found on Native Reservations, but some others do have a complete ban on casinos. Hawaii, for example, bans both casinos and online gambling!

Online gambling and sports betting exploded in popularity in the US in part due to the pandemic but Las Vegas remains the epicentre of gambling in the country. Casino gambling remains a vital part of the US gambling industry and Las Vegas still welcomes more than 40 million visitors every year!

There are plenty of iconic casinos in the US, especially along the Las Vegas Strip. But you can still experience Wild West style gambling by playing on a riverboat. On both the Mississippi and Missouri rivers you can find classic river boat gambling and feel like you’re playing in the Old West!

4. Finland 🇫🇮

  • Most Popular Game – Slots
  • Most Popular Casino – Casino Helsinki

Similar to the situation in Norway, gambling in Finland is operated under a government monopoly. Veikkaus owns and operates both casinos in Finland (in the capital Helsinki and in Tampere) offers the lottery and slots games. While Finns can choose to gamble at offshore casinos and betting sites, Veikkaus have proposed that their monopoly be extended to the internet as well by banning foreign sites. All the profits are returned to the public with over half of Veikkaus’ income going towards the Finnish Ministry for Education and Culture.

For a country with a population similar to New Zealand, it may seem surprising that Finland is so high on our list. Gambling was historically used to fund the state, especially in Finland’s early years of independence from Russia, and remains popular due to the profits being utilised in social programs. The old marketing slogan of “A Finn always wins!” might explain the continued popularity of gambling in Finland.

3. Ireland 🇮🇪

  • Most Popular Game – Sports Betting
  • Most Popular Casino – The Sporting Emporium, Dublin

Technically speaking, there are no casinos in Ireland. What Ireland does offer are ‘private gambling clubs’ which are members-only clubs offering a variety of table games and slot machines. Essentially, these are casinos but you need to register for free before you can start playing. This quirky process is a loophole to avoid Ireland’s archaic gambling laws which theoretically prohibit casinos. These private gambling clubs can be found in the major cities, primarily in Dublin and Cork.

Sports betting is incredibly popular in Ireland. Horse racing remains the most popular betting sport, but soccer, rugby, and Gaelic football (which is remarkably similar to our footy). Online casinos and sports betting have been legalised in Ireland, so it’s probably only a matter of time before the Irish have legitimate casinos too.

2. Singapore 🇸🇬

  • Most Popular Game – Baccarat
  • Most Popular Casino – Marina Bay Sands
Singapore Marina Bay Sands
The Marina Bay Sands is one of the most spectacular casinos in the world.

The biggest surprise on this list is ironically the smallest country on the list. One of the smallest and most densely populated countries in the world, Singapore is an economic powerhouse and tourist destination. Although there are only two casinos in Singapore, they include one of the most iconic in the world: the Marina Bay Sands.

Watched over by the famous Merlion, the three towers of the Marina Bay Sands are world famous and offer amazing views from the cantilevered platform. As a premier tourist destination, it’s little wonder that Singapore’s casinos lead the way in terms of its gambling income. Players from around the world can enjoy gambling (including Singapore’s favourite baccarat) alongside amazing views, spectacular food, and world-class entertainment. Sounds like the perfect holiday, right?

1. Australia 🇦🇺

  • Most Popular Game – Pokies
  • Most Popular Casino – Crown Casino, Melbourne

It shouldn’t surprise you that Australia leads the world in gambling. Per capita, Aussies spend almost $1,000 USD ($1,600 AUD) per year on gambling and almost half of that is spent on pokies. We Aussies love our pokies and there are over 200,000 pokie machines in the country! Online pokies also make up a large chunk of Australia’s gambling spending as our national pastime goes online.

The fact that Australia tops the world rankings is even more surprising considering the legal situation of online gambling and betting in Australia. So, is online gambling legal in Australia? The answer is that Aussie companies cannot provide online gambling services to customers in Australia. Therefore, many Aussies are turning to off-shore casinos such as HellSpin, Joe Fortune, and Stellar Spins.

There are currently 13 casinos in Australia. The 271 metre Crown Sydney recently received its licence and finally opened its casino some 18 months after the building opened.

What Country Gambles The Most Overall?

While Australia gambles the most per capita, the United States leads the way in gambling overall. The mega casinos of Las Vegas help boost the US gambling spending to almost twice that of second-placed China. Surprisingly, Australia is still fifth overall despite having a population smaller than California.

  1. USA 🇺🇸 ($116.9 Billion)
  2. China 🇨🇳 ($62.4 Billion)
  3. Japan 🇯🇵 ($24.1 Billion)
  4. Italy 🇮🇹 ($19 Billion)
  5. Australia 🇦🇺 ($18.3 Billion)

Now that you’ve learned about how much Australia loves gambling, why not learn about safe online casinos? Our casino reviews always ensure that casinos are safe, accept popular deposit methods, and offer an unmatched mobile casino experience.

Matthew Vanzetti

Pokie Professor & Casino Expert

Matthew Vanzetti is the go-to expert on pokies at Gamble Online Australia, bringing years of firsthand experience from Melbourne’s casino floors to his engaging articles. His expertise covers everything from traditional slot machines to modern jackpots, providing readers with practical insights and tips to enhance their gaming experience.

Matthew’s passion and detailed knowledge make his writings essential for anyone interested in the thrilling world of pokies.

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