The U.S. leads the world in gambling losses by country with Americans losing $116.9 billion last year, according to The Economist’s citing of data from U.K.-based H2 Gambling Capital (H2G), a betting and gaming consultancy.
Among U.S. customers, the most popular gambling products were services offered by brick and mortar casinos, with lotteries coming in second, followed by non-casino gaming machines then online gaming, according to an H2G chart provided by The Economist.
The information provided by H2G demonstrates the enormity of untapped potential there exists in the gambling market in the states. According to an estimate by the American Gaming Association (AGA), Americans bet $4.7 billion on Super Bowl 51, 97 percent or $4.5 billion of which, was wagered illegally. And in 2016 alone, an estimated $154 billion was wagered by Americans on all sports, the majority of it via bookies and offshore, illegal web sites, according to the AGA.
While the potential for growth is immense, gambling is legally restricted in the U.S. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) dictates that Nevada is the only state allowed to offer traditional sports betting.
In 2016, $385 billion in profit was generated by the global gaming industry, according to data provided by H2G and cited by The Economist. Furthermore, the fastest growing sector was online gambling with proceeds accounting for 11 percent of the profit. And while the antiquated Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIEGA) does not prohibit online gambling specifically, it does outlaw financial transactions involving online gambling service providers. So while online gambling accounts for a third of what is spent in some countries, so far only three states in the U.S. allow Internet gambling; New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.
While the U.S. topped the full-year losses chart for 2016, Australia reportedly topped the chart in losses per resident adult at $990 last year. That is double the average loss in other Western countries and 40 percent higher than the runner-up, Singapore.
China, including the special administrative region (SAR) of Macau, meanwhile, reportedly lost $62.4 billion on gambling in 2016. A number which would have likely been higher had it not been for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crackdown launched in early 2014 and that continues today.
Japan reportedly comes in at third at $24.1 billion for biggest loss by country. The third largest gambling market in the world, Japan’s annual revenues have been in a downward slope since 2003 amid strict regulation. However, that is expected to change as the Japanese government’s enactment of “Act Promoting Implementation of Specified Integrated Resort Areas” in December last year will allow casinos in Japan for the first time. And while current revenue from pachinko and slot machines is equivalent to more than 4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, H2G reportedly estimates that with the flurry of foreign operators expected to build casinos there, winnings could increase by 50 percent in the first year of operation.