It’s no secret that betting is a global market. It extends far beyond the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, or the pomp and circumstance of the Cheltenham Festival, to cover countries and cultures all around the world.
In this article, we’ll be analysing the size and scale of that market. We’ll also investigate regional differences, and try to put recent trends into a historical context.
The Big Picture
It’s currently estimated that sports betting alone (i.e. not including casino gambling) is worth around $83.65 billion. Not only that, but the industry is growing at anywhere from 10-12%, depending on which source you believe.
This is not necessarily just driven by a small percentage of ‘big fish’, either. It’s believed approximately 1.6 billion people around the world bet with some regularity, while over 4 billion will wager at least once per year.
In short: sports betting is already enormously popular, and the industry is only trending upwards.
We’ve already seen that the betting industry, as a whole, is shooting upwards at an incredible rate. Let’s dig deeper into this trend.
Gambling on sports has been popular for millenia. It’s not necessarily becoming ‘more’ popular nowadays. Rather, the growth of the industry could be down to three main factors.
Firstly, there are obviously more people now. That said, the global growth rate is below 1%, which is obviously far below that of the gambling industry.
Secondly, there are less legal restrictions. State-by-state legalisation in the US is obviously the most high profile example in recent years, but we’ve also seen big countries like Canada and the Philippines becoming more open to gambling.
On a connected note, this wider legalisation has also given us more reliable data. People were still betting in countries where gambling was officially banned – they were just doing so in ways that couldn’t be officially quantified. Now they can use licensed betting outlets, and thus give us better data.
Thirdly, and in conjunction with our last point, there are vastly more places to bet. Obviously the rise of online sports betting, since around the turn of the century, has had a massive impact. But the number of sportsbooks has grown at an incredible rate in recent years, to the point where there are now over 2,400 British licensed operators, adding up to millions of betting accounts in the UK alone.
So far, we’ve generally looked at the global betting industry. It can be both interesting and arguably more useful, however, to break things down by region.
For starters, the USA is the single biggest market by an absolute mile. Sports betting in the US is believed to be worth around $7.6 billion annually. That’s over 9% of the global market, in one country. It’s also worth noting that – at the time of writing – only 30 states have legalised betting, and much of that legalisation has happened in the past few years. In short, the US market still has plenty of room for growth.
The fastest-growing regional market, unsurprisingly perhaps, is believed to be the Asia Pacific. North America is in second place, with Europe in third. Again, underground betting has been massive across Asia for a long time, but its gradual legalisation is what’s feeding into these stats.
Elsewhere, it’s worth noting that the same betting giants are tending to profit most from this wider trend. While effective marketing strategies can certainly earn plenty of money for smaller brands, it’s established names like William Hill and Bet365 who are most quickly and effectively taking advantage of these trends, particularly in North America and Asia.