Experts say gambling, and sports betting especially, are on the rise in Europe. How dramatic are the changes, and is it really rising? Read this analysis to find out.

The history of gambling in Europe

Before we get into the topic, you should know that gambling is not rising only now. It has been popular throughout the world for millennia. The Egyptians were found playing the first pair of dice, and Greeks were betting on animal fights way before the Roman Empire began its rise to power.

Gambling is in our blood. It’s closely tied with risk-taking, and release of dopamine that every gambler feels when they win.That’s why Europe was always full of gamblers and bettors. In the 15th century, card games took the continent by a storm, and soon the first casinos opened in modern day Italy.

Just as today, the development of the casino industry and sports betting was on par with governmental efforts to ban it.

As first Monaco casinos were being built. Germany was banning gambling. But the major gambling hubs of old Europe survived to this day.

So gambling was always a thing. These days, however, it’s growing due to technological advancements.

The current state of gambling

The size of the gambling market in the EU is huge, it caps at almost €95 billion according to EGBA data. The bulk of it is land-based games, but a constantly growing share is online gambling.

Online gambling takes almost 20% of the market (in Ireland it takes 41% of the market)  as a whole and is predicted to grow up to 24% by 2020. This is no surprise, given the connectedness of today’s world.

The size of the European market is just a fraction in comparison with the global picture, however. €95 billion that Europe generates is only one-fifth of the global gambling industry that peaks at €500 billion. The global picture includes giants like Macao and the US that both outperform EU in the gambling size. However, the region’s gross gambling revenue is growing.

Sports betting on the rise

Sports betting is one of the leading industries in European gambling. EGBA shows as high as 40% of people prefer to place bets on sports rather than on casino games. The bulk of bets are made in sports bars, especially when team supporters gather to have a drink and watch a game. This kind of pastime is very popular in the UK, a country that is in the lead on the European market.

Sports betting is made even easier if you consider the possibility to bet online. Until recently, you could have seen ads in between major sports events urging you to go online and place a bet. Now, this practice is considered a faux pas, but the popularity of betting doesn’t go down.

Participation rates

According to the UKGC 2018 report, 46% of Brits gamble at least once a month. Men and women gamble nearly identically but tend to play different games. Most people play to win some money and have fun, but 18% report playing to win a jackpot and change their life. This correlates with the number of gamblers who play the national lottery, 22%.

Online gambling is growing, with 40% of gamblers having played online during the last month. 82% have gambled off-line, so there are gamblers who combine both media.

Overall, the number of gamblers in Europe is rather high and keeps growing.

The controversies

A high gambling participation rate means there’s going to be more sad stories of addiction. It’s no secret that gambling attracts people who suffer from depression and try to cope by obsessing over something.

This is why you so many stories about people scamming PayPal to lose over €100,000 in debt or stealing to fund their gambling habit.

The good news is, gambling companies try to have a good reputation, so they spend money on anti-addiction programs to negate the side effects of the growing popularity of gambling.