The world of sports betting is a billion-dollar industry, and it’s grown steadily for years. In 2017, the industry was valued at around US$14.9 billion, and it’s expected to reach about US$17.4billion by next year.
But just how big is the industry? Let’s take a quick look at the economic and political climate surrounding sports betting in several countries, followed by an overview of the industry itself.
The United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, the gambling industry is largely unregulated, and some people and groups have campaigned for it to be legalized. In 2018, a government committee heard the case for expanding the jurisdiction of the Gambling Commission, which regulates and licenses casinos, lotteries, and offshore gambling. But for now, the United Kingdom continues to regulate sports betting solely through self-regulation by the gambling industry. And since the industry is largely made up of small and independent businesses, it’s a model that seems to be working well.
The United States is the world’s second-largest economy, and it has the most sports fans in the world. It also has one of the most competitive industries in terms of gambling. Currently, sports betting is a bit of a grey area in the U.S. — states like Nevada and West Virginia have legalised it, while others like New York and Minnesota have restricted it. But as far as the federal government is concerned, betting on sports is still illegal. That could change with the upcoming 2020 elections, as many people in the Democratic Party have campaigned on a platform of legalizing and regulating sports betting. It’s still unclear how that would actually work, but it’s an interesting prospect.
In Australia, sports betting is a standalone industry, meaning it’s not regulated by the government or any regulatory body. However, many states and territories have passed legislation that either allows or restricts the activity. In April 2020, it was reported that Australian state and territory governments combined had lost more than A$270million on sports betting in the previous financial year.
In Canada, sports betting is legal but largely unregulated, making it one of the more prominent gambling industries in the country. It’s expected to be worth around CAN$5billion next year. Like many other countries, the majority of the industry is concentrated in a few large, professional organizations. The problem is widespread corruption. In January 2020, Sportsnet magazine and the Toronto Star wrote an in-depth analysis of the betting scandals that have rocked the industry in Canada in recent years.
In Europe, sports betting is either completely legal or heavily regulated. Most notably, Belgium and the Netherlands have fully legalized it. However, like in many other countries, the majority of the industry is still heavily concentrated in a few large organisations. There are also concerns about the integrity of some of the larger organisations as a result of the widespread influence of money in European sports. For example, Grisham Sport, a subsidiary of the French holding company DAZN, has been repeatedly accused of match-fixing and conspiring against customers.
Asia is another prominent area for sports betting, with numerous countries and regions allowing the activity, but regulations can vary widely from country to country. For example, Japan is one of the most well-known markets for sports betting, with many shops and restaurants offering the services. But in some places, it’s a crime to even offer a bet, or it’s carried out legally behind closed doors.
The growth of the sports betting industry shows no signs of slowing down. According to GAPA, the Global Association of Professional Athletes, there will be around 1.7billion internet users globally by the end of next year, and 2.2billion wireless device users. And with sports fans increasingly getting access to information online, it’s an opportunity for gambling businesses to grow, especially as so much of the industry is still somewhat of a mystery to most people. With the world’s biggest sporting events covered by the biggest news channels, there’s never been a better time to be involved in sports betting.