All around the world – a look at some global gambling trends

All around the world – a look at some global gambling trends
Simon Wooldridge
by Simon Wooldridge Last updated:

These are turbulent times on Planet Earth, and what happens in one corner of the globe can have ramifications more widely, affecting millions of us. 

This is especially true of the gambling world, which incorporates a range of international organisations including casinos, game developers, distribution networks and more. 

In this article, we’re going to look at some changes affecting the gambling industry around the world.

Rising illegal gambling in Denmark and beyond

The increase in the prevalence of illegal gambling sites has been a hot topic of discussion in many countries recently, not just in the UK

In recent years, similar trends have been observed in France, Sweden, Germany and further afield. Spillemyndigheden, the Danish regulator, has reported an alarming escalation.

In an attempt to act quickly, Spillemyndigheden has begun working with social media platforms and other influential businesses to counteract illegal gambling. The plan is to tackle illegal operators, about 49 of which are currently operating in Denmark, with disruption tactics.

One of the main concerns is that players may be pushed away from legitimate operators and towards illegal ones if they find regulations to be too restricting. For instance, the £2 minimum slot stake limit, which will be coming into play in the UK soon, may see some individuals turn to illegal sites. 

Regulators should tread carefully, but Spillemyndigheden’s quick response and commitment to action is admirable. It remains to be seen how effective the disruption tactics will be, and whether the regulator’s powers will prove sufficient.

Surging Slovakian market

In what appears to be a bit of good news, the Slovakian gambling market is experiencing rapid growth. It was reported in March that £18.3 billion worth of bets were placed during 2023, largely thanks to online casinos.

The impact of this on the state is significant, with the taxed contributions rising from €50 million one year to more than €300 million the next. It should be interesting to see where this goes in 2024 and beyond.

Slovakia is a young gambling market, with regulations only introduced as recently as 2019. And as with many other countries, Slovakia is experiencing issues with illegal gambling, and it will have to address these or risk losing out on a portion of its valuable gambling gross.

Russian-Ukrainian War

In March 2024, in one of his regular addresses to the public, Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukrainian President, addressed the topic of gambling among Ukrainian troops. 

Zelensky referred to a petition which had been brought to his attention. Submitted by Pavlo Petrychenko, a Ukrainian soldier, the petition seeks to ban access to online casinos for military personnel.

According to Zelensky, Petrychenko’s petition “got the necessary number of signatures very quickly” for presidential consideration under Ukrainian law.

Petrychenko’s primary concern is that “gambling becomes the only way to cope with stress and therefore quickly causes dopamine addiction and weakens their self-control”. This is an effect which he maintains extends to wider society too.

The petition also suggests that some soldiers have been pawning equipment such as drones and thermal imaging cameras, in order to pay off gambling loans.

It has been reported that, as a result of the petition, the Ukrainian government is planning to “tighten control” in order to “protect the interests of society”. 

In Ukraine, regulated gambling is a relatively new concept. Whilst a blanket ban seems heavy-handed, it’s clear that investigations need to be made, and measures need to be taken.

German loss reimbursement law escalated

The German gambling industry finds itself in a precarious position. A lawsuit which seeks to make unregulated operators pay back players’ losses has been referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) after the Austrian defendant withdrew its appeal.

It had been scheduled that the Federal Court of Justice of Germany would hear whether unregulated businesses would have to reimburse German players’ losses. However, the final decision will now be made by the ECJ. 

This case, if successful, would set a precedent that could have far-reaching implications. It has also been reported that, if players are reimbursed, even more may be drawn to using illegal operators. 

German law firm Hambach & Hambach commented, “If players are reimbursed for losses with unlicensed operators, this will only incentivise them to bet with unlicensed operators as the case law basically established betting without a risk of loss.”

Considering the already concerning prevalence of illegal gambling in Germany, such an effect could prove catastrophic.

Crown Melbourne reborn

Crown Melbourne, the iconic 30-year-old Australian casino, venue and resort, has undergone a dramatic and successful transformation. After two years of changes, Crown has been allowed to retain its licence.

This is a great achievement for the venue, but it has not been an easy road. 

Crown has long been the subject of controversies, including accusations of gambling crimes in 2016, earning millions of dollars from illicit payments, and effectively laundering money for Chinese criminals. In late 2022, Crown Melbourne received a fine of AUD$120 million for breaches of gambling regulations which took place over a decade. 

The reform has seen Crown undergo a substantial transformation, particularly in introducing measures to tackle gambling harm. 

Ciaran Carruthers, CEO of Crown Resorts, commented: 

“Together we have built a stronger, better Crown, and our unrelenting focus will remain on delivering the highest standards of integrity, harm minimisation and service excellence across our industry.”

Brutal tax increase in India

A Goods and Services Tax (GST) is being imposed on Indian online casinos. There has long been a gap in Indian legislation which has allowed the online sector to thrive. 

Online operators have enjoyed low levels of taxation for some time, but the 28% GST will turn the industry on its head and will be a substantial blow to casinos and other operators.

There have been many calls to reduce this figure, but it remains to be seen if they will have any effect. The GST is set to be put in place on 1 October.

The Indian gambling industry is growing rapidly. It is a market with great potential, but authorities should be careful not to stifle growth with aggressive taxation.

The UK Gambling White Paper

The British gambling industry is in the midst of a monumental overhaul which aims to protect players and keep on top of modern trends. Britain has long led the way in gambling regulation, with the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) being an exemplary world-leader in this respect.

The UKGC, which is currently in the process of implementing various legislative changes, has a global responsibility. It must lead by example, striking a sensible balance between protecting individuals from harm, and enabling this valuable part of the British economy to thrive.

In other UK news, Britain’s gambling industry has managed to grow and flourish despite the broader economic troubles. This further solidifies Britain’s market as one of the healthiest and most robust in the world.

The future

The gross value of the global gambling market is forecast to reach $1 trillion by 2030. This is likely to spell great news for many economies, but it comes with a great deal of responsibility too.

Not only must governments and regulators consider what is best for their citizens and economies, but they must also factor in the potential impact of their actions on a global and geopolitical scale.

Simon Wooldridge
by Simon Wooldridge Last updated:

Simon’s long-term fascination with slots started with teasing 40p worth of change from the skilful spinning of 10p coins into a fruit machine in the last century. This has grown recently to a solid appreciation for the often dazzling artistry, imagination and mechanics of modern online slots.