Best International Online Casinos 2023 & Gambling
Modern gambling business is constantly growing and changing by country. Most of the profits comes from slot machines whose income reaches 70% of the total revenue. Land-based and online slots are a favourite gambling game in most Western countries, especially in Europe and the USA, due to the simplicity and fun of gameplay. However, casino table games are more popular in Asian countries.
Forecasts predict that in 2022, the total revenue of the gambling industry will reach 635 billion USD and by 2020 online slots will occupy a larger section in the gambling market with revenues at 45% of the total income. The Asian region will continue to increase its profits.
Features of the World Gambling Market
In the period from 2016 - 2022 the Worldwide Gambling Market is predicted to grow by 5.7%. The market in Asia is growing very rapidly, from 2010 to 2015 the market size increased by 18.3%. As of 2016 to 2017, the Asian industry occupied 43.4% of the total market with the leading centres being Macao and Singapore.
In 2015-2016, the revenue of the global gambling business was distributed as follows:
- Asia and the Pacific — 43.4%
- The USA — 40.1%
- EMEA (Europe, Central Asia and Africa) — 10%
- Canada — 3.4%
- Latin America — 3.1%
In 2015 the Online Market Size was divided as follows:
- Europe - 47.6%
- Asia and the Middle East - 30.3%
- North America - 13.3%
- Oceana (South Pacific Ocean including Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji) - 6.6%
- Latin America and the Caribbean - 1.6%
- Africa - 0.5%
Gambling Business in Europe
Gambling business in Europe continues to grow. In 2016, the revenue amounted to 84.9 billion USD and the growth of the land market is 3% annually. The online market in Europe is intensively increasing and the main growth centres are Spain, Denmark and Italy. Within Europe the UK has the largest share with Germany and Scandinavia following closely behind.
The European gambling market is tightly regulated. France, England and other countries have long-established gambling laws. In most European countries, online gambling is banned or concentrated within the country and lottery, bingo and other similar games are a state monopoly. In Scandinavia, almost all gambling is operated by state-owned companies. In other countries, most forms of gambling, except the lottery, belong to private operators.
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission, is the gambling regulator for the UK and their license is considered prestigious all over the world. As of the 31st March 2017 there were 2,788 license holders in the United Kingdom. The most popular type of gambling is sports betting and as of September 2017 you will find 8,502 bookmakers, 146 casinos and 583 bingo halls in operation. During the period April 2016 to March 2017 1.5 billion GBP was given to good causes from the National Lottery and 255.6 million GBP from large society lotteries.
In regard to the online market, the total Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) from April 2016 to March 2017 was 4.68 billion GBP which is 34% of the total industry GGY. The market was split will Casinos holding a 56% share, Betting 37.1%, Bingo 3.5%, the Betting Exchange 2.8% and Pool Betting 0.7%.
In Spain, there are more than 40 casinos. The online market is developing strongly, its growth was 26% in 2015. The most popular type of gambling is sports betting and online casinos. The industry in general is regulated by the government and in provinces, by local authorities. Legislation in different provinces vary greatly.
The most popular gambling in Italy is slot machines. They collect annually about 4.5 billion EUR. They are followed by scratch cards and lotteries, then sports betting. The total income of the entire industry is more than 54 billion EUR.
The Malta Gaming Authority is an international organisation that issues licenses to gambling operators. The country was among the first to carefully develop the regulation of the online business. Together with Great Britain, Malta is considered the most authoritative jurisdiction in the gambling industry.
In Germany, each land has its own gambling regulator. The legal market receives 24 billion EUR of revenue and the most popular gambling varieties are slot machines, lotteries and sports betting. Online business in the country is prohibited.
Benelux is a politico-economic union of three neighbouring states in Western Europe: Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. In all of these countries, the gambling industry is legalised, both land-based and online. The overall profit from the gambling industry in the Benelux is over 700 million EUR. The Netherlands has the biggest gambling market. The country has 14 land-based casinos which are all are state-owned. Their overall revenue amounts to 548 million EUR each year. Belgium has 9 land-based casinos, which earn 114 million EUR annually. Luxembourg only has one casino whose annual profit was 40 million EUR, gambling is banned in the rest of the country. Belgium and the Netherlands allow online gambling with some restrictions on who can operate them and the language that they are available in but in Luxembourg only the National Lottery can conduct online gambling activities.
In Norway the state regulator is the Norwegian Gaming Authority. There are only two state-owned companies that run gambling operations Norsk Tipping who promotes lotteries, games of skill and scratch cards and Norsk Rikstoto that deals with horse races.
To play on these websites, registration is required along with a special payment card. Only games provided by the state are legal. Foreign operators cannot enter the market, even though players can use their services.
All in all, the profits of the Norwegian industry amount to 1.1 billion EUR. Most of the revenue comes from land-based establishments, which is 66%. The online market occupies 34%, which is equivalent to 485 million EUR. Yet at the same time legal companies get 45% of the overall amount, which is 217 million EUR. The illegal and unregulated market is estimated at 267 million EUR.
The Swedish Gambling Authority is the regulator that oversees all of the operations. The overall profit from legal operators who hold permits in Sweden is about 4 billion EUR a year. The revenue of operators that have no permits is 0.51 billion EUR. Svenska Spel deals with casinos and ATG with horse races, these are the only state-run companies that operate with permits. So called "Operators with no permits" are foreign organisers of gambling games which is a term that is also used for online casinos. Sweden does not allow gambling business to be run without a state-issued license, however this is hard to enforce. There are a total of 18 foreign operators in the country, which mainly hold licenses issued in Malta or Gibraltar.
The revenue from legal operators in Denmark reaches 1.2 billion EUR each year. Most of the profits come from lotteries, both state-run and charitable, followed by bets and slot machines. The country has 42,000 slot machines and 14 land-based casinos however, online business is prohibited. Since 2012 Denmark has been issuing an unlimited number of licenses to online operators and bookmakers and the regulator is the Danish Gambling Authority.
The Baltic States
The Baltic States are made up of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. The gambling industry has a good legal foundation and brings relatively decent profits. Each of the countries has its own gaming regulator that oversees both land-based and web-based operators. The overall revenue of the Baltic gambling market is over 400 million EUR annually. Slot machines are much more popular than other games and the largest gambling market is in Latvia.
Slot machines are also most popular form of gambling entertainment in Estonia. Most of the 85 land-based establishments are small gambling halls that have eight or more slot machines. The country has 16 operators, four of which are land-based casinos. Most of the operators also provide their services online. Their overall revenue amounts to over 50 million EUR annually and the state budget receives 23 million EUR each year.
The main legislative act is the 2009 Gambling Act. The Estonian Gaming Operators Association conducts research and acquires statistics from the gambling market. The Tax and Customs Board acts as the regulator and also issues licenses.
Lithuania has 13 private operators that run 18 casinos. As of 2016, there were also 174 betting offices and 196 gaming clubs. The total number of slot machines is over 4,000 and the overall revenue from the industry amounts to about 119 million EUR a year. Deductions into the state budget reach 37 million EUR.
The gambling industry in Lithuania is regulated by the Gaming Control Authority, which is under the Ministry of Finance. The Gaming Control Authority issues licenses and monitors compliance with the law. Licenses are issued to run such gambling businesses as casinos, slot machines and bingo halls. Operators pay a license fee and a fee for each gaming item placed inside the facility.
Gambling in Latvia is legal and the country has 14 operators, ten of which run land-based establishments and four only operate online resources. Gross revenue from the industry amounts to almost 250 million EUR each year. Latvia has 6 casinos and 317 gaming halls that contain a total of 8,900 slot machines. There are also 57 betting offices in operation throughout the country but the Lottery is a monopoly of the state.
The main legislative acts,are the Gambling and Lotteries Law, the Law on Lotteries and Gambling Tax and Fees and the Law on Lotteries of Goods and Services. The gambling industry is regulated by the Lotteries and Gambling Supervision Inspection of Latvia and to qualify for a license, the company must be registered in the country and have a safety capital of at least 1,400,000 EUR. They must obtain two licenses: the license to organise games and to open a facility. License fees must be paid to the state each year, along with the taxes for the gambling equipment placed inside the facility.
Gambling Industry in Eastern Europe
The countries in Eastern Europe are Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, The Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia, Serbia, Slovenia, Romania and Moldova. The Balkans and the Baltic States belong to this region as well.
The gambling industry in Eastern Europe is pretty hard to characterise as a single whole. This is a region where gambling is mostly allowed (except for Russia and the Ukraine). The biggest markets are in the Czech Republic, Romania and Poland and in the rest of the countries, gambling laws were only passed in the 2000´s. There are still high profits are being generated from the illegal market.
Russia, Ukraine and Belarus
Running gambling operations is banned all throughout Russia, except for those within the five gaming zones, where playing is allowed. This is the reason why online casinos in Russia are in the "grey zone". Although the national lottery is allowed everywhere.
In the Ukraine the situation is a little different, only the lottery can be played legally. Legalisation of the gambling industry was actively being discussed in 2017, but so far gambling remains illegal.
Profits from legal gambling in Belarus reaches 98 million USD each year. About 21 million USD goes to the treasury. The gambling industry is regulated by Presidential Decrees and Resolutions adopted by the Council of Ministers and Licenses are issued by the Ministry for Taxes and Levies.
The Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary
In the Czech Republic operators make 1.42 billion USD each year. Almost two thirds of the profits comes from slot machines. There are almost 6,000 gambling clubs, 566 casinos and 7,299 betting offices that between them have 67,000 slot machines installed.
Poland has 49 casinos with an overall revenue of 126 million EUR. The regulator is the Ministry of Finance and only betting on sporting events is allowed. This is where winnings are taxed, and taxes paid by operators bring over 290 million EUR each year. Online gambling is currently banned.
The gambling industry in Hungary is regulated by the Tax and Financial Control Administration. The country has 8 casinos, whose overall profits amount to 93 million EUR annually. The illegal market is estimated at 100 million EUR.
Croatia, Slovakia, Serbia and Slovenia
Gambling issues in Croatia are regulated by the Tax Administration. All forms of gambling are allowed. The industry's revenue is 50 million EUR each year.
The gambling industry in Slovakia is monitored by the Ministry of Finance. 12 casinos are operating in the country today and their revenue reaches 28 million EUR. The government charges fees for a license and for gambling facilities. Online gambling business is a state monopoly and the country blacklists all illegal operators.
The Serbian government gets over 49.3 million EUR each year from taxes collected from operators. The establishments have 17,500 legal slot machines. There are 1,200 betting offices and 2 casinos are operating in the country. The illegal market is smaller than the legal one and its volume is estimated at about 40% of the legal market.
9 casinos are operating in Slovenia with an overall profit of 146 million EUR a year. There are also 36 gaming clubs. Gambling entertainment is organised by six legal operators. The regulators are the Tax Administration and the Ministry of Finance.
Romania and Moldova
The Romanian market brings about 1 billion EUR each year. The amount brought to the state budget amounts to 269 million EUR. The most popular trends are betting on sporting events and bookmaking. The country has 488 operators. Online operators are allowed but they can also be blacklisted.
In Moldova most of the market is occupied by the National Lottery. The country's legislation has been undergoing constant transformations since 2015. No data on the revenues of the establishments is available.
Gambling Industry in the Balkans
The Balkans is a region in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. The region consists of six countries that are full members and eight countries that are partially within the Balkans. The Balkans are characterised by a unique culture, which includes gambling as well.
The Balkan States include, Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro. The gambling industry in the Balkan States is mainly semi-legal or completely underground. The reason for this is an imperfect legal framework and a lack of resources to enforce the law. Online gambling is in a rather suspended state. Small countries that are not quite developed have no funds or any legal framework to enforce bans on illegal online casinos. However, Bulgaria, has an extensive list of banned operators, and Montenegro has a separate authority that regulates the online market. In the rest of the countries, online gambling is in a semi-legal zone, however, players have free access to online casinos.
Monthly revenue from legal gambling in Albania reaches 3 million EUR. The market has only been partially legalised, as the taxes imposed by the law are too high. 500 to 600 gambling halls are reportedly operating in the country, and only 30% of them are legal. The official number of slot machines in the country is 2,300, but there are reportedly about 10,000 illegal slots operating as well.
Bulgaria has a pretty well-thought-out legislation. The gambling industry is regulated by the 2012 Gambling Act. Online operators are regulated in the same way that land-based ones are. The market has been undergoing a steady development and the state gets about 40 million BGN (a little over 24 million USD). Illegal online operators are blacklisted in Bulgaria. As of 2016, the list includes over 600 different companies.
The gambling industry in Macedonia is legal. 6 casinos, 16 of their affiliates and 59 gaming clubs are licensed in the country. The most popular developers are Austrian firms such as Novomatic. Giants from Austria, Australia, Panama and Turkey have been investing quite substantial amounts of money into Macedonia, which is sometimes called the Las Vegas of the Balkans.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
28 companies operate in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which run 3,199 gambling facilities. The existing legislation means that profits from illegal activities do not make it into the budget. The existing market is estimated at 23 million EUR of possible inflow into the budget alone.
Gambling in Kosovo is allowed. Most of the profits are still claimed by the illegal market, whose volume is estimated at up to 100 million EUR. The legal industry, however, yields over 1 million EUR in taxes.
The gambling industry in Montenegro has been legalised since 2006. The country has a simple registration procedure and low taxes, so investors will benefit as well. Nevertheless, according to ЕСА (European Casino Association), there is only 1 casino operating in the country. The revenue from that legal casino is about 10 million EUR. They have a well-thought-out system of regulating online business and even have a separate authority that regulates it, named E-Gambling Montenegro.
Gambling Business in North America
The gambling industry in North America consists of the markets of the USA and Canada. The USA generates 40% of the world's gambling profits and held the lead position in the world for quite some time until Asia got ahead in the 2010s.
The overall profits from legal gambling in North America is estimated at more than 100 billion USD. If you include illegal businesses, the figures would be about double that.
In the USA gambling is allowed in Indian reservations, on cruise ships and in the states of Nevada and New Jersey. The total revenue of the market is 71.1 billion USD annually.
Each state has established its own set of laws on gambling and there are federal laws as well. Market regulators are the state administrations and the American Gaming Association.
In the US, there are 1,915 casinos in operation. Online gambling is strictly regulated and financial transactions related to online gambling are banned. Nevertheless, online casinos have been developing quite rapidly. The Gaming Association USA unites market players, producers, distributors and operators.
The US had the largest and most luxurious casinos in the world until their glory was overshadowed by the casinos in Macau that started to open in the mid-2010s. Las Vegas and Atlantic City have remained as two of the main gambling capitals on the planet to this day.
The gambling industry in Canada is banned at the legislative level, but gambling is available in the country's provinces. The overall profits made in the industry is over 30 billion USD a year. Tax deductions into the state budget reach 9 billion USD a year.
Canadian law prohibits all gambling, but allows the provincial authorities to organise lottery schemes. The schemes include the entire spectrum of gambling games, from lotteries to casino games and slot machines. Provinces also act as both operators and regulators of the gambling industry at the same time. They are the ones who set the laws and rules and then promote their games through Crown Corporations. Some provincial governments delegate their organisational authorities to so-called "service providers". This is why a gambling license in Canada is issued by applying other principles than those that are normally in place. Service providers operate mainly by signing an agreement with the Provincial Administration.
Gambling Market in Latin America
The largest gambling markets in Latin America are Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia. In general, gambling in Latin America suffers from a lack of proper legislative framework. As a rule, the laws are not clearly defined or responsibility is given to local authorities. Because of this, there are too many opportunities for illegal business.
Latin America is a promising region for online gambling. For now, it has an illegal and semi-legal condition. But during 2016-2017, the leading countries of Latin America should adopt new legislation which, among other things, will regulate the online market.
In Argentina, there is no main government regulator, provincial authorities are responsible for regulation. Each province has its own laws for the gambling market. Online gambling has been allowed since 2002, however, to get licenses, operators must also apply to the provincial authorities. Legal gambling in Argentina brings 4.1 billion USD in profits per year. The country has about 100 casinos. All forms of gambling are allowed.
Two national organisations work with provincial authorities, The Association of Lotteries, Pools and Casinos of Argentina (ALEA) and the General Direction of Casino Games and Slot Machines of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (MINCETUR). The number of bookmakers (who conduct sports betting) has been increasing rapidly.
Gambling in Brazil is almost completely banned, however, the industry remains one of the largest in the region. In 2017 the government was working on new gaming laws. The revenues of the illegal market are estimated at 6.4 billion USD. Currently, Brazilian players travel to neighbouring Uraguay where gambling is legal.
Poker is more of a game of skill rather than a game of chance, so this game is allowed. Another kind of entertainment that is legal is lottery, which is a state monopoly.
In Mexico, the Gambling and Raffles Bureau is engaged in gambling industry. Most of the gambling types are given to private operators. The annual revenue of the industry is estimated at about 740 million USD.
Along with classical gambling, there are other kinds of entertainment that are different from conventional Western kinds, fronton is a sports game, cockfights are allowed at fairs and chess, domino and other similar games are also permitted.
Tax deductions from the gambling industry in Mexico brings up to 300 million USD each year. At the same time there is a huge illegal market operating in the country as well. According to criminology experts, in 2011 there were over 800 illegal gambling clubs operating in Mexico. This is the reason why the government of Mexico has been discussing new gambling legislation since 2014. The process is taking its time. As of 2017, the authorities have postponed the passage of the law package until 2018.
Chile and Colombia
Chile and Colombia are also important players in the legal markets of Latin America. These are the countries where all forms of gambling are allowed. The most popular ones are sports betting, casino games, poker and rooster fights. As of 2017, there were 17 land-based casinos operating in Chile and 35 in Colombia.
The legislation in the area of online gambling has not been worked out so far. In Chile online gambling is banned and Colombia simply has no framework. So online casinos belong in the "grey zone". As of 2017, governments have been working on projects to regulate online casinos.
Venezuela and Uruguay
The legal market in Venezuela yields 4 million USD each year. 5 casinos are operating in the country. The gambling market does not fully utilise its potential due to rigid regulation and abject poverty among the population. Online gambling is allowed, even though there are no local companies that could run these operations so Venezuelans play on foreign websites. The government regulator is the National Commission of Casinos, Bingo Halls and Slot Machines. All forms of gambling are allowed. The most popular ones are casino games, bingo, horse races and dog races.
Casino hotels in Uruguay bring 212.7 million USD to the state each year. Most of the profits are generated by slot machines. All forms of gambling are allowed. Legitimate gambling operations can only be run by the state. The government, however, can grant concessions to private individuals. Online gambling is not regulated since no legal framework is present. Up until 2017 Uruguayans could play freely on foreign websites. The government started working on bills that would ban access to unlicensed online casinos. This area of the gambling market is most likely to be strictly regulated in the future.
Gambling Market in Asia
Asia is one of the fastest growing gambling regions in the world. The legal gambling market is estimated at over 200 billion USD each year. It is here that the modern gambling capital of the world Macao is located, the other leading gambling centres is Singapore. The Philippines and Japan are also getting more competitive. Asia has 43.4% of the entire volume of the gambling industry in the world.
The main regulator in Macao is the Macau's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. Macao is the only zone in China where gambling is legal. As of 2016, Macau's land-based casino revenues are not growing because of a long campaign against corruption and slow economic growth. Nevertheless, industry revenues remain at the rate of 28 billion USD annually.
Macau, China, is often called the Asian Las Vegas and over the past decade, the profits of the industry have exceeded those made in the USA and the gross revenue in 2016 was 27 billion USD. All forms of gambling are allowed including betting on horses, dogs and sporting events. Online gambling is also allowed, but no online casinos exist in the city.
The industry is regulated by three different authorities, the City Administration, Gaming Inspection and the Coordination Bureau. Although two thirds of the profit in Macau is from VIP junket tours, in the mid-2010s the China government clamped down on the legislation regarding these players, which is why they have experienced a slump in development. However, analysts predict that by 2020 the focus will shift towards mass-scale gambling for more ordinary players. The market in this country is increasing by 2 million USD each year and as the rest of the population has 446 million potential players, it is likely that those involved will not be willing to miss out on these profits and will develop online gambling for ordinary players.
Gambling in Singapore is allowed, but online gambling is banned. The luxurious casinos that were opened in 2010 are only available to tourists as the locals are not allowed to play. The license in Singapore is issued as an "exemption from the law", which actually bans gambling operations. This is where many regulators come into play, the Casino Regulatory Authority, the National Council on Problem Gambling and several government authorities including the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Home Affairs. The profit of the gambling market in Singapore is estimated at 4 billion USD.
The overall revenue of the gambling industry in the Philippines reaches 3 billion USD each year. At the same time, the country's legislation prohibits gambling, with a few exceptions. The main regulator is The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, PAGCOR. This organisation has the monopoly on providing and regulating all types of gambling in the Philippines. The only exception is Cagayan Freeport, which deals with online gambling.
Online gambling is allowed, even though its regulation only applies to foreign players who are located outside of the Philippines. The local online market is not regulated and the Government started working on a bill to cover this issue in 2017.
In Japan gambling is banned, yet special forms of games are flourishing. Pachinko are slot machines that give out prizes in tokens and they are very popular among the Japanese. Next to the gaming halls there are exchange counters that convert the prizes into cash. Japanese players spend 203 billion USD on these machines.
Besides Pachinko, lotteries and betting on horses and sporting events are also allowed however, online gambling is prohibited. As of 2017, the country's government has been discussing projects which concern reforms to the gambling industry. Disputes are currently underway about whether or not to allow casinos in the resorts. Foreign corporations such as the Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts and Hard Rock Café have been lobbying the passing of this law.
This market also has another category, which is the underground clubs run by Yakuza, for playing mahjong. There are also other popular games that are uncommon in the Western market, such as Rock-Paper-Scissors for money. These kinds of entertainment are provided by illegal web resources.
Gambling Business in Australia
In Australia all forms of gambling are legal. There are over 400 licenses that are held by land-based casinos, racetracks and cruise ship casinos. The most popular way to gamble is via online casinos, which have been legal since the early 2000´s. Slot machines located in local pubs take second place and land-based casinos are third. The total turnover from gambling is over 20 billion AUD. Each territory has its own legislation and laws for gambling activities and the head offices of 4 game developers are based here.
Gambling Business in Africa
Gambling business in Africa is concentrated mainly in South Africa. Gross revenue of the market is estimated annually at about 26 million ZAR (1.92 million USD). The revenue of the illegal market is estimated at 140 million ZAR (10.7 million USD). In 2015, the increase in the gambling business was 15%. Online gambling in South Africa is prohibited and only sports betting is available. The most popular gambling is casino games and Casinos account for about 70% of the gambling market in South Africa. Regulators in South Africa are the National Lotteries Commission and the National Gambling Board.