Sports Betting Around the World

sports betting - head to headSports betting is an activity that’s been around for centuries. In fact, there’s evidence suggesting that people used to bet on outcomes of sports competitions back in the days of Ancient China. Still, the fact is that sports betting has never been as widespread as today. It is estimated that the global betting industry is worth more than $200 billion, which is more than the GDP of countries like Hungary, Ukraine, or Greece.  The industry also has a very bright future ahead, thanks to the internet, which has made it easier for people to bet. Rather than going to a land-based sportsbook every time they wish to make a wager, they can do their sports betting online. Another reason why this industry is expected to even bigger is that countries have started working on making this activity legal and regulated.  That said, it’s surprising that the world’s betting leaders are those countries that do not have too much of a friendly attitude to gambling. So, which countries are those? We’re now going to list the top 5!

Middle East & Northern Africa

Casinos, sports betting, and online gambling are mostly prohibited in the Middle East. Despite the legal restrictions that forbid Muslims from gambling, Middle Eastern gamblers contribute significantly to the profits of the worldwide gaming business.

Nowadays, a lot of countries with a Muslim majority limit access to casino games to foreigners or non-Muslim guests; in order to enter a Casino or a Sportsbook, players and bettors must show their passports. However, many people in the Middle East have dual citizenship and thus have access to casinos.

Although the spread of the online casino industry is restricted by strict Islamic restrictions, most Middle Eastern countries allow visitors to view foreign websites and to play in online Casino brands. Because less stringent restrictions apply when foreign online gambling operators are engaged. As a result, Middle Eastern software companies are increasingly licensing their games to international casinos with a strong online presence that accept online players from the region. Citizens of Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt, in particular, are now offered internet casinos that are specifically tailored to their country.

Sports betting in the Arab world has recently grown in popularity. Soccer, camel racing, horse races and formula one events are among the most popular athletic events, with soccer being the most popular – among other reasons, because some of Asia’s top national soccer leagues and teams are found in Arabian Gulf region and in north African region. Locals are excited about both local and international athletic events, and they wager on their favorite teams using well-known worldwide online betting sites. However, these platforms only cover a portion of the Arab population’s wagering needs, as translations into Arabic and regional languages are sometimes lacking.


About 28% of the world’s total sports betting activity is happening in Asia. The country that’s leading the way is China. Knowing that this is the most populous country on the planet (1.6 billion people), one wouldn’t be surprised by this fact. However, there’s one surprising fact about sports betting in China – it is illegal!  The Chinese Government doesn’t allow this activity and considers it a criminal offense in some cases. There are no sportsbooks anywhere in mainland China, although there’s a special administrative district where practically all gambling activities are allowed.  What we’re talking about is Macao. The world’s largest gambling hub has a gambling revenue that’s several times larger than what Las Vegas generates, and a big chunk of that revenue is created through sports betting.

United States

It was 2018 when the United States Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting, enabling individual states to decide for themselves. Since then, many states have made this activity legal, while most still haven’t made the final decision. Furthermore, there are also a couple of states that are explicitly against making sports betting legal, the best examples being Utah and Hawaii.  Even though the sports betting-friendly US states are in the minority, this country is one of the leaders when this activity is concerned. Americans spend billions of dollars making sports bets, particularly during winter. If you’re wondering why that is the case, the main reason is the Super Bowl, as well as the NBA.


Unlike the previous two counties, Australia is very liberal when it comes to sports betting. Almost all forms of this activity are legal, including online betting. The only restrictions are those related to the promotion of sportsbook brands on TV.  Because it’s so betting-friendly, the country is one of the leaders when sportsbook revenue is concerned. An average Australian spends more than $1,200 a year on gambling, with sports betting being one of their most popular gambling choices.  Australian rules football is this nation’s favorite sport, together with soccer (a.k.a. association football), rugby league and rugby union, and cricket.

United Kingdom

Here’s another country that’s open to sports betting. Apart from being a fertile ground for the sportsbook business from a legal perspective, the United Kingdom is also full of betting-loving people. Wagering is a centuries’ long tradition in the UK, which started off with horse racing betting before spreading to other sports.  It’s not just the UK that likes to gamble; the same goes for the Republic of Ireland. In fact, there are some studies that suggest that the Irish bettors spend more money than their British counterparts. It is estimated that an average Irish person will wager $588 every year.  In both countries, soccer is the most popular sport, both among bettors and sports fans. No surprise there, as the UK is the place where this sport was born back in the mid-19th century.


Similarly to the UK, India also has a long and rich history of sports betting. However, unlike the UK, India still hasn’t gotten to regulating the sports betting market. Truth be told, there are some states in India where this activity is banned, but in most others, it falls into a gray area.  In those states, sports betting is neither legal nor illegal, allowing the bettors to practically do what they want. And what they want is to place bets on their favorite sports – cricket, kabaddi, horse racing, and so on.