5 countries where gambling is thriving

 (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Across the world, there are countless aspects of life that unite us, from family values to popular culture. But there is also an equal number of differences that divide us.

One of the most notable of these differences is gambling. Looking across the globe, attitudes range from complete acceptance of the activity to blanket bans that have been in place for decades, if not centuries.

However, the majority of the world’s nations sit somewhere near the middle of these two extremes. In many, gambling is allowed but is tightly controlled by the state, for example in countries like Poland and Hungary, while in others, a more free-market approach has been embraced.

But the arrival of online gambling in the last couple of decades has made the picture even more confusing, with operators suddenly being able to provide services across borders. This made the activity accessible to many more people than ever before, with legislation in each country often falling behind.

Of all of the countries in the world where gambling, both offline and online, are accepted as a part of daily life, five stand out as the most notable. These are:

  • USA
  • UK
  • Macau
  • Australia
  • Canada


Las Vegas is known as the Gambling Capital of the World. 

Ask most people where they believe the global capital of gambling is and they will point straight to the USA. This is mainly thanks to one city in particular, Las Vegas. Ever since the 1950s, it has symbolised the glamour and excitement of casino gambling.

Today, it continues to be the powerhouse behind the activity in the US. But the tides are changing, with more and more states opening their doors to gambling, particularly in its online form.

Arguably, this was kick-started in 2018, when the US Supreme Court made the historic decision to finally allow sports betting. Since then, more states have started to legalise the activity, with many others already a long way towards permitting it. In October last year, a record amount of $3 billion in revenue was generated by sports betting, surely an indicator of just how popular the activity has quickly become.


When it comes to remote gambling, there’s one country that is far ahead of the rest of the world. In the UK, online gambling has become the biggest single sector which, according to official figures, accounted for £5.7 billion of the total £14.2 billion spent between April 2018 and March 2019.

This has meant the online casino world has become fiercely competitive in the UK, with all the major operators working hard to provide players with the best experience possible. 

For instance, Israel-based operator 888 Casino has had huge success in the UK by continuing to grow their diverse range of popular and exclusive games. More recently, they’ve introduced a live casino lobby, in which casino games are run by real dealers and streamed direct to the player’s device, recreating much of the traditional casino atmosphere on their online casino site. 


Macau has gained status in recent years as the Vegas of the East.

All forms of gambling are currently forbidden in mainland China. But exceptions have been made for Macau, largely for the tax revenues that it raises. 

While Vegas has always had the reputation as the casino capital of the world, for some time now it has been outstripped by this former Portuguese colony. In 2019, the city’s 41 casinos received almost $36.7 million dollars from its 5 million visitors.

It’s also become something of a stronghold in the Far East for the big US gambling names like Wynn and Caesars, who have replicated their mega casinos from Vegas over 7,000 miles away.


For a country with a population of a little over 25 million, Australia certainly punches well above its weight when it comes to gambling. In fact, it’s been estimated that, per capita, the country’s adult population spend more on the activity than any other nation.

To put this in figures, 80% of the adult population gamble and the revenue raised is over $18 billion a year, working out at a little over $800 a year per gambler.

While the major cities all have casinos, it’s the machines called “pokies” that raise the great majority of this revenue. These are the slots machines that can be found in bars and other places all over the country – the name is short for “poker machines”.

As a country that is equally obsessed with sports, including cricket, rugby and Australian football, sports betting is also very popular and a big revenue earner for the country.


Casinos have become a Canadian way of life in the last decade.

The last country on the list may also be one of the most surprising. After all, Canada is hardly a leader on the world stage in many areas. However, the liberal-leaning administration has made it far more open to promoting gambling than its neighbour to the south.

There is a thriving casino sector that generates around $15 billion in revenue each year. And, with a 76% engagement among adult Canadians, it lingers only a short way behind Australia.

In terms of the online gambling sector, the laws in Canada are almost as free and easy as those in the UK, which has encouraged many of the biggest names in the industry to focus their attention on the country.

These five big hitters have all made their mark on the gambling industry, and undoubtedly, will continue to thrive in the coming years. Meanwhile, the inevitable rise of online gambling will only boost this divide between countries open to gambling, and those still strictly against it.