When it comes to the most successful gambling markets in the world, Europe is undoubtedly a front-runner, and from the style and sophistication of Monaco to the trendy casinos of London, high-rollers flock from across the globe to place eye-wateringly large bets in the hopes of winning big and boosting the continent’s gaming revenue to an estimated 30.5 billion Euros per year.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that Europe has remained a casino hot spot, considering wagering started here in the first place. Gambling was common in Rome, with history suggesting Romans placed bets and gambled using real money – although it was later banned, leaving Romans to find more creative ways to play, which is when betting chips first started to be used instead.
Of course, times have evolved dramatically since then, and thanks to the latest technological innovations, many European countries continue to rank highly in legal gambling revenues on an individual basis as well as collectively. But it’s not just glamorous and iconic land-based casinos that have been driving the continued growth, as online gambling has played a notable role in boosting the numbers over recent years – not least following the onset of the global pandemic, when bricks-and-mortar establishments were forced to close their doors for extended periods of time.
Our love for online gambling seems to have not only continued now that the world is returning to normal, but it has continued to surge. According to a year-end report by the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), in 2022, the online gambling market revenue is estimated to be worth $99.5 billion gross gaming revenue – an incredible 19 per cent increase from 2021.
Games like baccarat, poker, slots and sports betting have become hugely popular amongst European players, and online gaming offers the kind of accessibility and flexibility land-based establishments simply can’t. Now, it’s entirely possible to log on and play live from your sofa, sun lounger and anywhere else you can dream up in Europe, and all in a few clicks of a button on your smartphone.
Here are the top 5 online betting markets in Europe
Online gambling markets are incredibly profitable, since many Europeans have a penchant for gambling. During the pandemic alone, the European Gaming & Betting Association recorded a 7.5 per cent increase in revenue, a large proportion of this growth being seen during 2021.
Today, a growing number of companies hold the licenses required to get into the business, with new online gambling apps and websites covering everything from sports betting to casino gaming popping up seemingly by the day.
So, which countries are leading the way when it comes to keeping Europe on the gaming map?
1. The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom, especially England, has a long history of gambling behind it, with the world’s wealthiest high rollers continuing to flock to capital city London’s lavish casinos and bookmakers. If you’re a fan of Peaky Blinders – the period TV series set in old Britain – then you’ll have seen that horse racing is particularly popular, but the British appetite for placing wagers certainly doesn’t end there. The James Bond films have done an excellent love of showcasing the nation’s love of the glitz and glamour of a night at the roulette wheel or playing a game of poker, and the UK’s casinos – both online and off – continue to be some of its biggest draws.
Digital licenses were first offered to casinos in 2005 with the intention of preventing offshore sites that refused to pay taxes from operating. Since then, the UK’s online gambling space has grown to become one of the most significant industries in the UK sector. According to the Gambling Commission, the industry currently yields £5.9bn annually, with over 6,000 outlets currently in operation.
The increasing access to smartphones and the internet has made it easier to gamble at a low cost than ever before, so it’s little wonder the market is flourishing. Allowing the masses to easily log onto a variety of gaming sites like Betting.co.uk (https://www.betting.co.uk/casino/), seek out an online slots review and research the very best sites and apps, you don’t have to be wealthy to partake – although it’s certainly true than an affluent proportion of society can be said to be behind a large segment of the spending.
One of the largest reported gambling incomes in 2019 came from Germany, when the nation made a whopping £14.3 billion contribution to its sports economy. Again, those numbers continued to surge throughout 2020 and 2021, particularly in the digital space, with online operators providing a wide variety of slot games, poker, and sports betting opportunities and pulling out all the stops to make the activities more interesting and captivating.
Currently, there are over 50 physical casinos in Germany, with many of these beginning to launch their own online offerings in a bid to give their jet-setting customers easy access and more choice. In 2021, BtoBet estimated that the German market would hit over £18.2 billion in revenue from amongst its 80 million citizens, and while those numbers didn’t quite materialise, they’re on par for 2022.
Another of the biggest markets, Italy reported gross gaming revenue of €161 million in 2021. As mentioned, wagering in Italy dates back to the Roman era, making it one of the pioneering markets for the industry in Europe.
The industry began to grow following an infringement proceeding against the nation by the EC in 2009, and after a series of agreements, a new law emerged in 2010, allowing operators into the country. Today, the activity is still regulated, but Italy has become a big earner when it comes to annual gambling revenue, reporting that last year alone, an impressive £88.38 billion was wagered, with £12.9 billion of betting revenue going back into the Italian economy.
Betting is a legal concept in France and is licensed by online gambling authority, ARJEL. In a country that is home to upwards of 65 million people, the French media reports that gambling outlets rake in €10.7 billion annually, finishing on around $11.48 billion in 2021 alone. Because France’s policies toward gamblers are liberal and restrictions are minimal, gamblers are able to bet freely on everything from sports and slot games to classic casino favourites like baccarat and poker.
In Monaco, which is considered its own nation despite being located on France’s southern coast, locals are prohibited from gambling within its iconic land-based casinos, which include Café de Paris and Casino de Monte-Carlo – but tourists from across the globe continue to visit in order to soak up the glitz and glamour of such venues whilst spending big.
Spanish bettors love wagering on football, and it’s this that they do the most. La Liga is particularly popular, with bettors placing eye-watering amounts of money on the outcome as much for fun as for a chance of winning.
iGaming Business data reveals that there are currently around 670,000 active bettors amongst the nation’s 40 million strong population. Besides football, Spaniards are also known for their passion for betting on horse races, indulging in online slots, and playing plenty of poker.
Why are European countries leading the betting market?
European countries generate millions in revenue annually, raking in far more than many countries can even dream of at present. While this can certainly, in part, be attributed to its citizens’ love for gambling, it isn’t the only factor at play – after all, without complying with the EU’s licensing rules, none of it would be possible in the first place.
The introduction of technology innovations like software gaming, tech trends and virtual reality has undoubtedly made online wagering both easier and more attractive to bettors. Now, it’s possible to get a real life casino experience from the comfort of your own home in Europe, complete with live dealers and players – and with customer service now more intelligent and better than ever before, and VIP programmes growing increasingly appealing to high rollers, it’s easy to see why these markets are continuing to make ground.
One of the main sports in Europe is football, where the number of fans, and thus, sports bettors, is huge compared to in other parts of the world. The European gambling market enjoys excellent availability of various betting markets and options in football, and as every nation has a top football league and there are thousands of matches to bet on weekly, there is a huge opportunity to generate income and attain growth.
Please gamble responsibly (18+ UK) – check age restrictions before participating