For many centuries, civilizations all over the world have gambled. As long ago as the days of ancient Rome there’s ample evidence that dice and other games were played for money and the same is true of ancient China.
Of course, we’ve come a very long way since then and today it’s a multi-billion-dollar industry that covers much of the world and attracts millions, if not billions, of players every year.
And, unlike many sectors, it seems to operate outside of the general economy, growing in size each year. The one exception was when the world was plunged into a financial crisis in 2008-09. Even then the US gross gambling yield remained steady at $370 billion a year. Now, some ten years later, that figure has risen to approaching $500 billion and seems set to continue on its upward trajectory.
The UK leads the way
While Las Vegas may be the most famous and glitzy global capital of casino gambling, it’s the UK that, arguably, has the most open and vibrant scene. Much of this has to do with the liberal laws surrounding the activity that, unlike the state by state legislation of the US, apply nationwide.
The activity in the UK is overseen by the Gambling Commission and every year they publish the official figures for the industry. The latest of these cover the period between October 2018 and September 2019 and show that Brits spent a very impressive £14.3 billion on all forms of gambling during this period.
While much of this was spent on lotteries (£3.8 billion) almost as much was spent on casino gambling at £3.2 billion – nearly a 4% increase on the previous annual figure. While we’ll take a look at the online casino market in the US later on, it’s worth pointing out that many of the world’s leading operators do much of their online business in the UK and it leads the way in this area of gambling. From vibrant graphics, to exciting new games and incorporating all of the top safety features, it’s leaps and bounds ahead of other countries in terms of customer safety and gaming experience. To experience for yourself the high standards of online casinos in the UK, head to 888 Casino, as one of the most popular and well-respected gambling sites, it’s an exemplary UK online casino. 888 Holdings PLC (LON:888) said full-year adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) are expected to come in significantly ahead of prior estimates. Trading has been topping expectations, with average daily revenue 56% higher than 2019 in the period from July 1 to September 28.” See the full Proactive Investors UK article for more information.
One area of the industry that has received quite a hit in the last year has been the traditional high street betting shop. This has been largely due to an enforced reduction of the maximum stake used to play so-called Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from £100 to just £2. This has been estimated to cost the average betting shop up to £50,000 a year and since the new rule was introduced well over 2,000 of these outlets have closed their doors for good.
Positive signs in the US
The US is slowly becoming more open to gambling in its many different forms, with sports betting one of the most popular.
The big news in the US has come as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow gambling on sports. While the ruling was made in May 2018, it’s only now that the effects are starting to filter through with additional states including it on their statute books. As of September 2020, this is now legal in over 20 states and in the last year the activity is estimated to have raised over $25 billion in revenue. Unsurprisingly, the two leading states are Nevada at over $10 billion and New Jersey at $7 billion – it was the latter that was pressing especially hard for the law to be overturned.
The casino scene in Las Vegas has also proved to be on the up and up over the last year. In December 2019 the third highest monthly revenue ever was received by Nevada casinos at $1.05 billion, an increase of 5.8% over the December 2018 figure. The 40 casinos along the Las Vegas Strip also saw a 4.5% rise at $591.8 million for the same period. It’s interesting to note that the main growth came from slots games, which accounted for $700.1 million of the total. Other popular table games like roulette and baccarat saw revenue drops of up to 25%.
Of the big operators in the US, Caesars Entertainment is the one that has been hitting all the headlines. In July it was acquired by the far smaller operation, Eldorado Resorts, and this created a gambling giant with a market capitalization of over $23 billion and encompassing 60 casino properties across the US.
Looking to the East
Macau boasts some of the most decadent and popular casinos in the world.
For some years the far eastern gambling centers of Macau and, to a lesser extent, Singapore have sought to overtake Las Vegas as world leaders in casino entertainment. The former has certainly achieved this in terms of size and revenue. Over a period in which Las Vegas took $6.4 billion, the corresponding figure for Macau was $28 billion, a 23% increase on the previous year’s figure. Projections are that this will continue to grow at an annual rate of between 15 and 20%.
The Online Revolution
The one area that is accelerating more quickly than any other is the online casino sector. Worth an estimated $59 billion in 2019, by the end of 2020 that figure is set to rise to approaching $67 billion globally. Estimates suggest that by 2024 it may well top $100 billion a year and with rumors circulating that even more US states are making online gambling legal, there’s good reason to believe that that it could even rise higher. Combine this with ever-greater online access and the increasing sophistication of smartphones and other mobile devices and the number of players attracted to this most modern form of gambling is certain to rise.
The prospects for gambling, both offline and online, are looking good not just for this year but well into the future too, across the globe. And that has to be very welcome news both for the industry and all those who enjoy gambling as a leisure pursuit too.