Some of the most beautiful things about sports is that they can transcend language, build strong communities, and bring people together from all over the world. Two teams on a soccer pitch may not be able to speak to each other but can share a common goal, abide by rules, and recognize and respect sportsmanship.
Similarly, fans in a stadium or arena rooting for the home team to win may not otherwise have interacted or encountered the person sitting in the seats next to, behind, or in front of them. A total stranger can become a best friend for 90 minutes and share the ups and downs of the journey toward victory when the final whistle or buzzer sounds. Entire cities can be totally shut down for celebration after a championship is brought home.
Some people showcase their passion for the game by wearing jerseys or baseball caps, never missing a game on TV, putting stickers on their car, or placing a bet on their favorite team. Since we’re a company that’s in iGaming, we decided to showcase the most popular countries where fans display their passion for sport in a way that we know best – by betting on them.
Keep in mind that the data countries listed below are pulled from various sources and data points. There is no definitive way to measure the popularity of sports betting globally, but this list below will give online sportsbooks a good idea about the locations they should focus their customer acquisition efforts toward.
Nigeria is a country where sports betting and online gambling has been growing rapidly over recent years. There are estimates that around 60 million Nigerians are actively bet on sports each year. Those aged 18 – 35 are reported to represent the highest proportion of gamblers in Nigeria. Not surprisingly, one of the main factors driving growth of sports betting in Nigeria is the prevalence of smart phones. According to figures from Business Wire, there are about 169 million cell phone subscribers in Nigeria, and 80% of these people are able to access the Internet from their smart phone. It’s become clear to sports betting operators that offering players a mobile-friendly option to place bets is key to capturing and retaining players in emerging markets.
There are also important differences in betting behaviour across regions in Nigeria. For example, the South-West zone represents the highest prevalence of gambling in the country while the North-East has the lowest prevalence. This could be an important distinction for sportsbook operators who rely on geo-specific targeting for their marketing efforts.
Lastly, 53% of respondents from a survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported to place a bet on a daily basis, offering plenty of opportunities for sportsbook operators to engage regularly with Nigerian players.
A market that has flown under the radar for quite some time, India has begun attracting online casino and sportsbook operators as a source of untapped gamblers and revenue. With more people accessing the Internet every year in India (especially from mobile devices) and more chatter of regulating online sports betting in the country, sportsbook operators are already planning their expansions into the market.
The exact size of the Indian sports betting market is hard to gauge due to the opaque nature of the nation’s gambling laws. However, there are some figures to note which are of interest to iGaming and sportsbook operators. Over 140 million people in India bet regularly, and over 370 million bet on major sporting events. Furthermore, the total gambling market in India is estimated at $60 billion each year. As mentioned earlier, this number can only be expected to rise with the prevalence of mobile-first internet access and talk of regulating the online gambling industry.
Italy is one of the most active countries in Europe when it comes to sports betting. In 2020, bets on soccer matches alone totalled more than 9.7 billion Euros. The COVID-19 pandemic had put a hold on many professional sports leagues. This had a big impact on Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) for sportsbook operators in Italy and around the world. Fortunately, the industry has seen the numbers bounce back with the loosening of restrictions. Recent data shows that in May 2021 sportsbook operators in Italy saw a healthy GGR of 154 million Euros for the month. Figures like these show why Italy should be a primary target market for sportsbook operators.
Betting on sports in Canada has been popular for a long time now. Canadians have shown similarities in sports betting behaviour to that of Americans who place bets online. There’s one difference that might not be so surprising – Canadians tend to bet more on ice hockey than their neighbours to the south.
For many years, until the passage of Bill C-218, Canadians used European or offshore bookmakers to satisfy their demand for online sports betting. Before the passing of the Bill, bettors weren’t allowed to make single-game sports bets. If Canadians wanted to place sports bets then they would have to parlay multiple different games. The passage of the Bill allowing single-game sports bets has yielded some estimates that online sportsbooks in Canada would generate 80% of an expected $25 billion in sports bets annually across the country. That would mean over $2 billion in revenue for sportsbook operators active in the Canadian market.
Like some other countries on this list, Brazil is a country where sports betting has exploded in popularity. The avid love of sports in a massive population fueled the growth of sports betting from $360 million to over $1.25 billion in the span of three years. Samba Digital published the results of a survey they conducted titled, “Brazilian Gambler: the Sports Betting Market in Brazil”, where they surveyed gambling behaviour across online casino, lottery, fantasy games, and sports betting. The rest of this section will focus on the key takeaways from the sports betting section, but if you want to get the full report you can access it here.
The report found that 18% of bettors are considered heavy bettors and place at least seven bets a week. Most bettors (42%) from this section of the report indicate that bet between once and three times a week. The pandemic has also had a noticeable effect on sports betting behaviour in Brazil. Over half of the respondents reported that they starting gambling on sports after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are also some great findings that speak to the way that Brazilian gamblers select their favourite betting sites. For example, the top two reasons when it came to selecting a favourite betting site was the speed of payments and incentives such as free bets. In a market as competitive as iGaming, it’s important to have the capabilities to offer bonus and sign up rewards through your sportsbook’s backoffice.
Participants also self-reported that football/soccer is the sport that they bet on the most. What’s very interesting is that Esports took the third spot on the list of sports that are bet on the most by Brazilian bettors. For further reading on the rise of Esports, check out our article here.
Sports betting and gambling has been legal in Argentina for years. Some estimates suggest that the gambling industry brings more than $4 billion in taxes annually for the country. However, gambling is regulated in Argentina at the provincial level, like the way that the United States regulates gambling at the state level. This is the case for both online and land-based gambling. In the case of online sports betting, Argentinian sportsbooks have geo-location filters established to ensure that bettors are unable to place wagers unless they are in a regulated region. However, Argentina has not outlawed international sportsbooks, making them an attractive option for many Argentinian bettors. In fact, the lack of player protection measures in Argentinian sportsbooks actually makes bettors feel safer placing bets on an offshore sportsbook.
As mentioned for a couple of other countries in this article, the prevalence of internet-connected smartphones can be attributed to a substantial level of adoption for sports betting in the country. 73% of Argentina’s adult population uses smartphones, and the average speed of mobile internet connections in the country is a solid 19.35 MBPS – more than fast enough to quickly place wagers on sporting events. Argentina’s above-average connectivity rates compared to the rest of south America, large population, passionate fan base for sports like soccer and basketball, and push to regulate iGaming further have the iGaming and sports betting communities keenly focused on the potential the country will bring to the industry in the coming years.
While sports are certainly popular in Poland, their sports betting industry is much smaller than their peers in Europe, primarily due to having relatively restrictive iGaming laws and one of the highest sports betting tax rates. However, even with the highly juiced betting odds (as a result of the turnover tax rate), Poland’s sports betting volume is steadily increasing, and operators (including off-shore) had an estimated ~$90m USD GGR in 2016.
The most popular sport in Poland is soccer, however Esports is quickly becoming a dominant force in Poland. Poland is amongst the leaders in the Esports arena – with nearly 3 million fans (to ~38m population). In fact, Poland’s government was the first in the world to suggest that their schooling system include a video game as part of their curriculum. Poland was also one of the first countries to host a national Esports team, founded in 2019. Esports are particularly popular in the Polish male 16-24 demographic, with over 34% reporting having viewed an Esports tournament within the previous month in 2018.
Data as of 2015 show that over half a million Australian adults place a sport bet every month. Figures from the same research also show that the average sports bettor wagers over $2,305 per year. Again, this data is several years old. With the rise of online sportsbooks and the impact COVID has had on the industry, it’s reasonable to assume that both the number of Australian adults that place a bet each month has increased since the data was collected.
9. United States
The United States is well known in the gambling community for iconic Las Vegas. However, it was only over the last few years (and near future) where the majority of states have created a legal framework for iGaming operators to legally accept wagers from bettors. Americans love to wager, with over 31 million Americans estimated to have placed a wager on Super Bowl LVI, totaling over $7.6bn USD. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, iGaming GGR and betting handle has exploded in the United States, with many operators reporting record turnover. In 2021, iGaming GGR more than doubled its output in 2020. The US iGaming sector is also expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.34% through 2026. There are however various hurdles for sportsbook operators who want a piece of the US sports betting action. State-level legislation, expensive licensing, and behemoths like FanDuel and DraftKings that spend billions of dollars in marketing to US bettors each year can make it tough for a new operator to get a hold in the massive US market.
10. United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is one of the world’s largest markets for the gambling industry, and as such is a popular “home base” for many of the industry giants. There are over 2,400 licensed operators in the UK, who collectively had a GGR of ~$9.25bn USD in 2021. Of that GGR, roughly $3.5bn came from sports betting. The most popular sport to bet on in the UK is overwhelmingly soccer, which accounted for $1.6bn GGR, followed by horse racing (~$1.1bn GGR). Despite just 29% of the UK public believing that gambling is fair, and that operators can be trusted, over 47% of UK adults have gambled at least once in the past month. This presents an excellent opportunity for operators utilizing Provably Fair gaming technology to differentiate from their competitors.
Sports betting is one of the many ways that passionate fans channel their love for sport. One thing that’s for certain is that sports betting is a phenomenon that’s global, and one that provides ripe opportunity for online sportsbook operators. Some of the countries on this list may come as no surprise to sportsbook and iGaming operators while others might have you thinking of new markets for your existing sportsbook operation. Lion Gaming Group has expertise in the global operation market and we are here to help sportsbook operators navigate this competitive landscape. Email us at [email protected] or contact us here to learn how you can grow your sportsbook with the help of our advanced white label sportsbook technology.