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Gambling statistics 2021: The definitive guide

This is the ultimate guide to gambling statistics. We cover all important topics and trends happening in this space - and we throw in an Easter egg or two as well. 

So if you’re in it to get the complete overview of what moves and doesn’t in US-based gambling… this is for you.

US Gambling statistics in overview

The US has always been a leader when it comes to revenue from brick-and-mortar casinos, and the pandemic gave this area of income a good beating. The gambling industry in the US was one of many markets to be negatively impacted by restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (1). Gambling activity dropped with around 47% of regular gamblers saying they were betting less often due to the crisis, 23% at the same levels, and just 5% saying they were betting more. (2)

While sports betting increased by over 68% in 2020, no doubt as a result of that decision by the Supreme Court, with 19 States, plus the District of Columbia legalising sports betting. It was also hampered by Covid restrictions that severely reduced the amount of sporting events available to be one. We expect to see huge year on year growth in 2021 for American sports books. Some analysts are predicting that the combined sports and iGaming market in the USA will be worth $15 billion by 2025 and will have doubled by 2030. (3)

The COVID-19 pandemic actually had a positive impact on the online gambling sector, which saw exponential growth in 2020. All 30 states offering legal forms of gambling reported increased revenue over the lockdown period. It is considered possible that more states will legalize gambling activities as an outcome of the pandemic.

Concerningly, despite the rapid predicted growth In a recent survey conducted by Time2play (4) on attitudes towards gambling in American Citizens fewer than 20% of respondents said they were a little worried about the increasing number of states legalizing gambling and almost 42% were not worried at all.

total revenue stats for usa gambling

sports betting revenue stats

Sports betting revenues

While playing at online casinos remains restricted to New Jersey casinos, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Michigan, and West Virginia. Since 2018 legal sports betting has extended to 19 States (5). With more potentially on the way as operators and major media companies to create partnerships to further integrate sports betting into the sporting world. August 2020 saw the first sportsbook open inside a sporting venue at the home of Washington Capitals in downtown Washington DC. In August 2021, the Chicago Cubs announced it will be building a 2 story extension on Wrigley Field that will house its sportsbook. 

Interestingly, an independent survey carried out by Time2play in August 2021 found that almost no respondents claimed that they had taken part in sports betting over the last few months. On the other hand, 497 participants claimed that they had participated in the lottery in the previous year. Indicating that this is still a very immature market. Especially as the survey also found that 50.65% of respondents had never placed an in-game or live sports bet. (6)

State level revenues

According to the survey carried out by Time2play, 43.44% of the respondents preferred to play at physical casinos, while just 15.38% played at online casinos. 27% of respondents enjoyed playing at both. This means that most US players still only favor playing at brick-and-mortar casinos. One of the reasons for this could be the overall live experience of being in a physical casino with all the sights and sounds that it brings. Although perhaps the more traditional players will be tempted online by new live casino offerings.

commercial casino revenue stats per state

Despite being predicted to account for 50% of all global online gambling sales by 2023 (7), live casino is still very much in its infancy in the States, with only operators in New Jersey, Michigan and Pennsylvania able to offer players that authentic live dealer experience. That seems set to change though with top providers such as Evolution and Playtech opening up live casino studios in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan in the past three years.

US players gambling using 2 mobile devices with various stats hovering around the devices.

US player trends

Many more trends define the gambling market these days. As more and more American gamblers join the game, more and more US player trends appear.

We cover the most prominent ones in the following. As well as some that are simply just interesting for anyone looking for gambling statistics.

Trust us, these go way beyond just who has the best no deposit casino bonuses or the top mobile US casinos! Discover more below.

  • Online gambling in the US drags behind the rest of the world

    The US was late to the table in terms of sports betting, with piecemeal progress of state-by-state legislation following the Supreme Court Ruling in 2018.

    Less than 20 states offer online sports betting or gaming, with the most populated states such as New York, Florida, Texas and California yet to participate in online gambling of any type.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, this means that the incidence of online gambling is 10% lower in the US than the global average, 7% vs 17% respectively. (17)

  • Over half of online gamblers in the US prefer to gamble online

    58% of American gamblers who have tried online services say they prefer gambling online, the same percentage as recorded in Germany and Sweden. Only Singapore is lower in terms of online gambling, with 56% saying they preferred to gamble online. The global average is recorded at 63%, with the highest level of preference for online gambling being seen in India at 76%. (18)
  • Online gambling more popular in US than elsewhere in the world

    The US was late to the table in terms of sports betting, with piecemeal progress of state-by-state legislation following the Supreme Court Ruling in 2018.

    Less than 20 states offer online sports betting or gaming, with the most populated states such as New York, Florida, Texas and California yet to participate in online gambling of any type.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, this means that the incidence of online gambling is 10% lower in the US than the global average, 7% vs 17% respectively. (17)

  • More than a third of US online gamblers also gamble offline

    57% more American gamblers wager online and also in land-based facilities than the global average. The percentage of global online gamblers also gambling offline is at 20%, whereas in the US this is much higher at 35%.

    This wide margin suggests the US online gambling market has been boosted by preference for online products such as fantasy sports and slots, as seen above. (20)

  • US gamblers view themselves as more knowledgeable than global peers

    American gamblers are more inclined to think they are knowledgeable enough about gambling to play a mix of basic and complicated bets or games. Around 41% of gamblers in the US self-certified as knowledgeable compared to a global average of 31%. This can be attributed to the publicity surrounding the lifting of the Federal sports betting ban. This difference can be explained by the improved level of education on online gambling, since the Federal ban was removed. The marketing campaigns that followed had a strong impact in establishing an online audience, eager to start betting legally. This widespread public broadcast of information about online gambling platforms is in stark contrast to many other countries where regulated gambling is a completely new phenomenon. (21)
  • Male and female online gamblers agree the sector should be banned

    In the US, around a third of frequent online gamblers are female, which compares to a global average of 35%. There is a higher female than male participation rate among lottery games, bingo and keno, with almost every other type of online gambling product remains male-dominant. With regard to wider attitudes towards online gambling, women are just as likely as men to agree that online gambling should be prohibited, with 26% of both genders sharing the same view. This suggests around a quarter of the global gambling community share concerns about the ease at which it is possible to develop a gambling problem, feeling that tighter legislation could prevent magnifying the issue. However, the stats also suggest that gambling companies need to do more to persuade more people – including large numbers of their own customers – that they really do have policies on gambling harms and aren’t there just to make money. In fact, findings from several surveys imply this is perhaps the most salient to the future of the sector in every country. (22)
  • Almost half of American gamblers wager online just for fun

    Gambling in the US has reached a level of popularity that reinforces its status as a mainstream leisure activity. More Americans view online gambling as a leisure pursuit than globally, with 48% citing gambling as being something fun to do, compared with 41% elsewhere in the world. American gamblers are also more inclined to find their experience in whatever they’re betting on is enhanced by placing a bet. More than a quarter (26%) of American gamblers said they wagered to enhance the experience, compared with a global average of 41%. 25% of US gamblers play to win big, a little less than the global average of 27%. This could be down to the education advantage of online gamblers in the US over their international counterparts and implies they have slightly more realistic expectations from gambling generally. (23)
  • US online gamblers LESS likely to bet on sports than global average

    Although more US online gamblers are likely to engage in sports games globally, they are less likely to bet on sports than the global average. There was a higher incidence of play in the fantasy sports segment at 12% above the global average, with 4% fewer betting on sports than global peers. This is almost certainly due to state-by-state bureaucracy and the relative lack of regulated gambling in a majority of states. (25)
  • US online gamblers shift from lottery to sports after green light

    The US has seen a major shift from lottery products to sports betting, following the lifting of a Federal ban in May 2018. Lottery products are a clear favorite globally, showing huge popularity among online gamblers in the UK at 61% and Germany 58%, whereas in the US just 31% choose the lottery over any other online gambling product.(26)
  • State lottery sales decline for first time in 10 years

    Revenues from state lotteries have fluctuated over the past decade, although the general trend was upwards until 2020, which recorded the first decrease. In 2009, state lottery sales stood at $58.25bn and increased slowly over the years to reach $91.32bn in 2019, representing growth of 64% over a 9 year period. (28) However, 2020 saw the first decline in lottery ticket sales to $89.65bn, which is $1.67bn less than the previous year or 1.8%. This reflects the increasing number of states passing legislation to allow sports betting and a decreasing appetite for lottery products in comparison. This reflects the huge appetite US online gamblers have for sports wagering, many of whom were unable to legally wager on sports before 2020. However, although lottery products have shown a small decline in popularity since the insurgence of sports betting, the market is expected to resume growth in the coming years. (29)
  • Online slots and fantasy sports US gamblers games of choice

    In terms of popularity measured by gambling incidence, US gamblers show a distinct preference for online slots and fantasy sports online, compared with their global peers. US gamblers wagered the most on online slots at 23% versus 13% globally.

    However, perhaps the biggest difference is seen in the fantasy sports online segment, which is far more popular in the US. Of those frequently gambling online, 19% expressed a preference for fantasy sports through their activity, which compares with just 7% worldwide.

Even more US player trends

Going beyond the most important trends and gambling statistics, there are many more potential topics of interest.

Key US gambling trends by state

It’s no secret that introducing different online verticals into the US has been an ongoing struggle. The US casino industry is like a spaceship that’s been waiting to take off for some time.

With many brick-and-mortar establishments having to remain closed due to the pandemic, several operators accelerated their digital operations. Many others have taken pains to expand the online portfolio that they already had to keep their players engaged. It would also be impossible to ignore the impact the sports betting vertical and the legalization of it in several states between 2019 and 2020 has had on the US online gambling scene.

Let’s take an even closer look at the top US states for gambling and which trends they currently represent.

  1. Colorado Flag

    State

    Colorado

    • What’s on offer: 35 physical casinos and online sports betting.
    • Minimum Age: 18
    • Gross gaming revenue in 2020: $636.08 million
    • What’s going on: Colorado has managed to make $6.6 million from its first year of legalized sports betting after it launched in May 2020. Although 80 percent of sports betting is done online in states where online betting is available, experts are forecasting that the numbers for in-person betting will soar once restrictions are eased even more and life goes back to normal. (8)
  2. Delaware Flag

    State

    Delaware

    • What’s on offer: 3 physical casinos, online casinos, online poker, and online sports betting.
    • Minimum Age: 17
    • Gross gaming revenue in 2020: $340.35 million
    • What’s going on: Unlike several of the other states, Delaware has not had the easiest of times in 2021. Although there was a 12.04% year-on-year increase, July offered one of the lowest monthly totals since February. Many will be curious to see if the Diamond State will shine again by the end of the year. (9)
  3. Illinois Flag

    State

    Illinois

    • What’s on offer: 10 physical casinos, online sports betting, and social casinos.
    • Minimum Age: 18
    • Gross gaming revenue in 2020: $743.41 million
    • What’s going on: Sports betting may not have been around for long in the state of Illinois, but they’re certainly making up for lost time. In July, the Illinois Gaming Board reported a sports betting handle of $507.3 million for May, which meant that the state held its No. 2 spot nationally for the second month in a row. (10)
  4. Indiana Flag

    State

    Indiana

    • What’s on offer: 14 physical casinos, online sports betting, and social casinos.
    • Minimum Age: 18
    • Gross gaming revenue in 2020: $1 709.48 million
    • What’s going on: Sports betting is flourishing in Indiana, where it was reported that there was a revenue increase in June of 35% when compared to May. There was a 771.4% increase when looking at the year-on-year statistics. (11)

US players betting on sports using a laptop with various statistics hovering around the laptop.

US sports betting statistics

Sports betting is another major driver of growth in the US gambling sector, as more players become eligible to wager legally in their state. There are currently 42 US states where some form of sports betting is legal. Prior to changes in Federal law in May 2018, sports betting was largely illegal across the country, apart from a few major exceptions: · All forms of gambling remained legal in Nevada · State sports lotteries remained legal in Delaware, Montana, and Oregon · Jai alai and pari-mutuel wagering formats on horse and dog racing remained legal Betting on fantasy sports falls into a different category than traditional sports betting and is allowed in all states except Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Arizona. We dive into the most interesting sports betting statistics in the following:
  • Millions of American adults able to legally wager on sports

    As a result of more home states being able to offer sportsbooks legally, both online and offline, sports wagering is becoming much more widespread. Due to states opening up legal sportsbooks, more than 111 million Americans, representing almost half of the adult population, are now able to wager legally, rather than turning to the illegal market (51).
  • Legalized sports betting boosts gaming sector

    Since becoming widely legalized in the US, sports betting has acquired a large share of the online gambling market, generating more than $900m in 2019. Despite the disruption to sporting activities around the world in 2020, Sports Betting revenues reached $1.5bn (52) to become the top earner in the online gambling segment. This spike in sports betting is explained by the resumption of sporting events after a long period of inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Expanding sports betting market attracts lottery players

    Since the federal ban on sports betting was lifted 3 years ago, revenues from the gambling segment have almost quadrupled, rising exponentially from $430.7m to $1,550m during that time. In 2021, sports betting revenue is forecast to reach $2.5bn and this figure is anticipated to grow to $8bn by 2025 (53).
  • Illegal sports wagers mostly accidental in the US

    Although sports gamblers are shifting away from illegal bookies, offshore sites continue to benefit from the confusion surrounding their status, particularly in states that have not yet legalized sports betting. Consequently, around 52% of sports bets are placed illegally, although oftentimes unwittingly due to this confusion surrounding the legality of sports betting. 84% of online sports betters involved in illegal wagers are “surprised” to discover they are using illegal websites (54). Many critics of offshore gambling firms say that customers are being deliberately hoodwinked into illegal sports wagering.
  • Sports betting most popular with men from 30 to 44 years’ old

    The sports betting industry in the US is supported by diverse types of gamblers. Since the Supreme Court judgment in 2018, many states have legalized sports betting. A survey carried out in February 2020, showed that 20% of male respondents participated in sports betting. Meanwhile, only 7% of female respondents said that they participated in gambling on sports. (57) A similar survey conducted at the same time, showed that the majority of sports betters of both genders are in the 30 to 44 age group, with 22% stating they had participated in this form of gambling (58).
  • Sports betting and fantasy app installs spike in April 2021

    The number of sports betting and fantasy app downloads fluctuated throughout 2020 and into January 2021. May saw the most significant increase in the volume of app installs of 253%, although this was largely offset by a decline of -266% in April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The dramatic uplift in April was attributed to an announcement that Major League Baseball would be resuming its shortened season in July (60).
  • The US Gamblers most likely to wager on sports

    The number of US sports fans saying they would be very likely to gamble following legalization in their state increased dramatically when professional sports resumed games after COVID-19 fixture cancellations. Fans of Major League Soccer (MLS) were the most interested in sports betting, with 53% saying they were extremely interested in this type of gambling. In comparison, 37% of National Football League (NFL) fans expressed an interest in sports betting (62).
  • American football fans spend billions on Super Bowl Sunday 2021

    Adults in the US planned on spending an average of $74.55 on Super Bowl Sunday, with food and beverage purchases the most common among those who plan on watching the game. The Super Bowl also attracts interest from those wishing to make some money – sportsbooks in the state of Nevada took nearly $154.7m in Super Bowl wagers in 2020. Until May 2018, Nevada was the only state to permit a wide variety of legal sports betting, whereas now sports betting is now legal in many states. NFL Super Bowl parties were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic as restrictions prevented gatherings across the nation. Nevertheless, 13% hosted or attended a party, which boosted the total spending on Super Bowl to $13.9bn in 2021. This spending includes food and beverages, game-related merchandise, branded apparel, decorations and TVs (65).
  • Record number of Americans wager on 2021 NFL season

    45.2 million Americans plan to place bets on the NFL season in 2021, 36% more than the league’s season in the previous year. That represents 40% of the 111 million American adults able to wager on sports since changes to Federal legislation (66).

Further interesting sports betting statistics

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US offline gambling stats

Despite the widespread closures of land-based casinos due to COVID-19 in 2020, gamblers hitting the tables and slots in person as restrictions are lifted, has given a much-needed boost to the industry.

According to figures published by the American Gaming Association in August 2021 (90), commercial casinos in the US had their second best financial quarter in history. The only possible drag on record-breaking revenues is the possible emergence of a new and more contagious variant of COVID-19.

The data shows that casino revenues were at $13.6bn in the second quarter in 2021, which nearly equals the entire revenue from US casinos last year when there were widespread closures.

Global gambling statistics

Globally, the pandemic left its mark with a year on year decline of 13% in the overall gambling market in 2020, despite an 8.8% growth in the global iGaming market during the same period. Along with physical restrictions preventing sporting events and visiting bricks and mortar casinos. Several well-established markets, such as Germany, Italy and Spain increased regulation around advertising and customer communications. The debate surrounding the wisdom of these changes continues and it is undoubtedly going to take time for the dust to settle and for us to get an accurate reading of how things will affect the players of these countries in the long haul.

In 2017, the United States barely made the top ten list of countries with the largest gambling losses per person. With the average American gambler losing $421 per year compared to the table-leader Australia, whose citizens lost an average of $958 (30). Back then the total gambling revenue for the US was $76.59 billion, thanks to several interesting changes in the past few years, that market is predicted to grow exponentially and those losses per person will be set to grow alongside them.

global overall gambling stats
global online gambling stats

Increased global digitalization has made the online gambling market accessible to a much wider global audience, however. As a consequence the online gambling market is growing exponentially and is expected to attract $92.9bn in annual revenue by the end of 2021 - the actual numbers will be released early next year.

This represents growth in the online gambling market of almost 65% on 2019, when revenues for the sector were recorded at $58.9bn. (31)

By 2025, the global online gambling market is projected to be worth $113.12bn. (32)

Social casinos

Social Casinos which feature free-to-play gambling like games have been increasing in popularity throughout the world and especially in the USA, which accounts for 70% of the global market.

Global Social Casinos

Potentially another vertical set to drive growth in the US market as our survey found that 84.35% of respondents had never played at a social casino. And while you can’t cash out with real money from a social casino 75.23% of our respondents still considered it gambling.

Guide for gambling illustration

Global gambling trends

So, how is the rest of the world doing, according to casino statistics?

While the US continues to battle to gain online ground, most of Europe is rethinking and reworking what has already been legal for some time. The United Kingdom especially is constantly revising its positions on regulation. One of its most interesting moves has been the ban of using images or characters which may appeal to kids in its casino marketing a few years ago. (33)

Europe dominates the international online gambling market with 54% of the total, and since the UK’s revenue makes up 15% of that total, it is clear to see that it still takes the cake when it comes to the world of online gambling. Below we will be looking at some of the leading European players in more detail. (34)

  • Country: Italy

    • What’s on offer: 36 physical casinos, all online betting is legal as long as each vertical adheres to the rules and regulations put in place.
    • Min Age: 18
    • Revenues: €4,059.12 million
    • What’s going on: With more than half of February’s €351.2 million online gaming revenue coming from sports betting, the Italians seem to love this vertical as much as they love pizza. Although the dust has started to settle on the pandemic, the future is tilting in favor of the online vs. the physical market. (35)
  • Country: Netherlands

    • What’s on offer: 14 physical casinos, online betting is legal as long as each vertical sticks to the rules and regulations put in place.
    • Min Age: 18
    • Revenues: €2 billion and 694 million
    • What’s going on: The Netherlands has completely restructured its online gambling sector thanks to the Remote Gambling Act, which we are yet to see the result of. That said, the Netherlands has been considered a profitable space for online casinos for many years now. (36)
  • Country: Spain

    • What’s on offer: More than 50 physical casinos, all online betting is legal as long as each vertical sticks to the rules and regulations put in place.
    • Min Age: 18
    • Revenues: €850.7 million gross gambling yield
    • What’s going on: Spain has cracked down hard on the way that marketing is done for its online casinos, with ministers claiming that their new restrictions are only a step up from Italy’s total marketing ban. Despite this, Spain’s market continued to go from strength to strength and had a 13.8% revenue increase from 2019 to 2020. (37)
  • Country: Switzerland

    • What’s on offer: 21 physical casinos, all online betting is legal as long as each vertical sticks to the rules and regulations put in place.
    • Min Age: 18
    • Revenues: CHF1,018.186 million (CHF596.296 million from online casinos and CHF421,890 million from land-based casinos).
    • What’s going on: Online gambling was launched in July 2019 with an incredible amount of success; the country’s licensees were able to make CHF23.5m gross gambling yield in 2019 alone. That said, Swiss physical casinos inevitably lost money in the pandemic, with revenue going down by 39% during the lockdown phase. (38)
  • Country: UK

    • What’s on offer: 156 physical casinos, all online betting is legal as long as each vertical sticks to the rules and regulations put in place.
    • Min Age: 18
    • Revenues: £14.26 billion gross gambling yield
    • (2019-2020)
    • What’s going on: While there has been an £84.1 million decrease in gambling in general, there has been an increased shift towards online gambling, no doubt due to the ongoing pandemic. As expected, sports betting in the UK is enormous, with over 48.4% of betting being channeled into football. (39)

 Sources