The Biggest Gambling Nations of the World

The Biggest Gambling Nations of the World

The ten biggest gambling nations are not necessarily the ones that people would expect. Based largely on the gaming losses per adult, each of the nations in the top ten has its own individual focus.

10. Spain

Per adult, the gaming losses are $418 in Spain. Gaming was not legal in Spain until 1977. The legalization of slot machines, which are pure chance gambling, came about more recently: 1981.  Yet betting is big in Spain as to almost everything. Football, cards and the lottery are but a few of the betting pastimes of Spaniards. Their largest lottery, El Gordo – the Fat One – is the world’s biggest lottery, with greater than $1 billion in prizes. In 2011, 80% of the nation’s population bought a $286 ticket to this lottery.

9. Greece

The losses on gaming per adult are $420 in Greece. One of the most infamous gamblers in the world was Nicholas “Nick the Greek” Dandolos. His winnings were said to have totaled around $500 million by 2009, after an inflation adjustment. Nick the Greek lost it all and died poverty stricken in 1966 at 83 years of age. Greece’s favorite gamble is through lotteries. The biggest gambling company in Europe, OPAP, with market cap of approximately 4.1 billion euros, is located in Greece.

8. Norway

The gaming losses in Norway run $448 per adult. The favorite Norwegian gambles are lotto, scratch cards, slot machines and football bets. A whopping 88% of the folk in Norway admit to being lifetime gamblers according to a 2008 government survey.  Due to widespread gambling addictions, the government drastically reduced the number of slot machines in 2007 to 10,000 from 22,700. Many gamblers then took to online poker. The government is now threatening to block online gambling. Norsk Tipping, the gaming company owned by the state, had 2011 revenues of $2.1 billion.

7. Hong Kong

The gaming losses per adult in Hong Kong are $503. Surprisingly, casinos are illegal; however, Macau, the world’s largest gambling mecca, is only an hour away by boat. In the first quarter of 2011, 500,000 Hong Kongers gambled in Macau. There are only three forms of legal gambling in Hong Kong proper: horse racing, lotteries and soccer betting. The Hong Kong Jockey Club generated revenue of $2.7 billion in 2010, derived from betting and the lottery.

6. Italy

Italian per-adult gaming losses are $517. Slots and other electronic gaming machines are the favorite forms of gambling in Italy. Gaming revenues in the first half of 2010 were $22 billion, almost half of which were generated by electronic gaming machines. Baccarat, a popular card game, was invented in Italy. In Venice, the first government-sanctioned casino in the world opened in 1638.

5. Finland

Gaming losses per adult are $553. Gambling every week is the pastime of 41% of adult Finns. The minimum age for playing slot machines was raised in 2011 to 18. Prior to the 2011 law, a 15-year-old could play the slots. The state-owned national lottery company is run by the ministry of education, and most of the proceeds are donated to education, arts and culture.

4. Canada

Gaming losses per adult total $568. In 2011 more than 75% of Canadians gambled. Saskatchewan is home to the biggest gamblers. The average gambling revenue in that province is $841 per adult. The national average is $527. Scratch and Win cards, slots and lotteries are the favorite types of Canadian gambling. Parents often place a lottery ticket in the Christmas stockings of their children.

3. Ireland

The gaming losses per adult in Ireland are $588. The casino industry in Ireland is completely without government regulation. New legislation is being considered. A Las Vegas type of huge sports and leisure complex is due to be completed in Tipperary in three years. It will include a hotel and casino, among other major attractions. 

2. Singapore

The gaming losses in Singapore per adult are $1,174. After only one year in business, it has become the third-biggest gaming center in the world, behind Macau and Las Vegas. Common knowledge is that Singapore will pass Las Vegas in the current year. Revenue from gaming in that city-state was estimated at $6.4 billion in 2011.


Gaming losses per adult in Australia are $1,288. Australia is in such a gambling frenzy that a gaming company has offered bets on the raising of interest rates by the central bank. Online sports wagering is legal if the betting takes place prior to the game. Pokies, the country’s slot machines, are the favorite gambling activity in Australia. New South Wales is the home of 100,000 poker machines, which is half of Australia’s total.  


Gambling is truly the entertainment attraction of the century.