Gambling is an activity that is enjoyed around the world. It dates back to the Paleolithic period before history records began. Six-sided dice games date back to 3000 BC with loot games and dominoes being prevalent in China from the 10th century.

Playing cards first appeared in the 9th century, again in China. Poker, one of the most popular card games in the world dates back to the 17th century. Venice, Italy, is the home to the first known casino, the Ridotto. It opened its doors in 1638.

There are many forms of gambling. From horse racing to roulette, football matches to pokies. You are highly likely to participate in gambling if you are reading this article! Gambling is often part of people’s DNA. For instance, gambling is traditional in Chinese culture despite it being mostly illegal. Australians love a flutter on almost anything, although pokies are king.

Which are the biggest gambling countries in the world? The latest figures we have to hand, provided by H2 Gambling Capital, reveal all.

Biggest Gambling Countries in the World (2017)

Rank Country Gaming Loss Per Adult
1 Australia $1,288
2 Singapore $1,174
3 Ireland $588
4 Canada $568
5 Finland $553
6 Italy $517
7 Hong Kong $503
8 Norway $448
9 Greece $420
10 Spain $418

Australia is the biggest gambling country in the world based on gaming losses per adult. Figures from 2017 show Aussies lost an average of $1,288 per adult of legal gambling age. The vast majority of those losses stem from pokies, which anti-gambling campaigners want to face tougher regulations.

These huge losses show why gaming companies are eager to break into the Australian market. It is easy to see why The Stars Group and Flutter Entertainment are joining forces for this reason.

Number two on the list is Singapore, which is quite an achievement considering the first casino only opened in 2005. Much of the $1,174 in losses per adult stem from Singapore’s many visitors. The Singapore Tourist Board revealed in 2018 that visitors lost $1.5 billion each year!

Horse and greyhound racing is immensely popular in Ireland with some of the best trainers hailing from the Emerald Isle. Irish punters love to bet on these races and the $588 lost per adult puts them third in the list of biggest gambling countries. Ireland has a slight disadvantage in it has a population of only 4.83 million, meaning its losses are amplified.

Finland Has Many Problem Gamblers

Canada and Finland make up the rest of the top five. Gambling is fully regulated in Canada and it boasts of 50 casinos across the country. It has 37.59 million inhabitants which help spread the losses out. Those losses add up to $568 per adult for a total of $14,547,025,280 lost per adult.

The Finnish Government considers anyone who spends more than €120 to have a gambling addiction. Finland must have a serious issue because H2G figures show Finns as losing €500 ($553) per adult per year. Casinos in Finland are frequented by the younger population, with gambling considered a retirement vice on the whole.

Italy has quite strict gambling laws the force its residents to only gambling with Italian companies. The country has 800,000 registered gambling addicts despite making up only two per cent of the world’s population. That two per cent loses an average of $517 per adult per year.

Hong Kong features in the top 10 gambling countries, coming in at seventh-place. Hong Kong’s government restricts gambling to a few regulated outlets and horse racing is extremely popular. Betting with a bookmaker is illegal unless you use the Hong Kong Jockey Club. This organisation has a monopoly on horse races, football and lotteries. Natives of Hong Kong spend $503 each year for every adult.

Rest of the Top 10

Norway occupies eighth-place despite gambling being illegal for the most part. There are two gambling companies allowed in Norway and gambling at home parties is also allowed. Norwegians love pokies and they account for 43 per cent of net turnover.

Greece and Spain are ninth and tenth in the biggest gambling countries in the world. This fact is true despite both countries being in economic crisis. Casinos are legal in Greece with the city of Acharnes featuring the largest casino. It has 52 table games, 708 pokies and video poker machines. Greeks lose $420 each per year.

Gambling was decriminalised in Spain in only 1977 and the landscape changed in 2011. The industry in Spain is heavily regulated, but that did not stop Spaniards losing $418 per adult in 2017.