How Online Gambling Grew and Keeps Growing In Europe

June 1, 2016

A look into the figures of online gambling in Europe and why they are so high.

iGaming has been growing in every market, registering profits in just about any country it has been legalized and even pushing some countries that had strict regulations to slowly turn around and consider a more relaxed view.

But when it comes to growing revenue, profits and number of players, the European market outshines everything else with no prospects of slowing down either. Add to this the latest study by research group Technavio which predicts a worldwide annual growth of 11% by 2020 and the future is looking bright, particularly for European operators.

The Numbers Show Europe’s Advantage Growing

The European continent is by far and away the largest market for online gambling with a net revenue of $15 billion from a total global revenue of $37 billion according to the European Commission. The European gambling market in its entirety is estimated to be worth nearly $87 billion. In 2009 alone, continental operators registered a 44.9 percent increase in revenue with yearly increases being higher than anywhere else in the world at 15 percent.

While there are few countries that don’t offer licensing options for operators on the continent, countries like the UK, Spain, France or Italy are the leaders of the pack with approximate revenue ranging between $10 billion for France and $25 billion in the case of Italy.

Gambling’s Popularity: a Mix of Legislation and Tradition

The growth of gambling, both offline and online on the European continent has been constant and significant with some peaks that coincided either with improved legislation or the improving economic prospects for the continent’s countries.

There are numerous reasons why gambling had such a spectacular growth on the European continent when compared to other markets with high potential such as Russia, Asia or North America. One of the most often cited ones is the cultural aspect, which puts gambling as a recognized mode of spending one’s free time or even for making money, for centuries in Europe.

This cultural affinity for gambling may also be the reason why so many countries in Europe have adopted a gambling friendly legislation, which allows operators a high degree of freedom while also assuring safety and high-standards for all players.

Legal efforts like the one the United Kingdom undertook when it passed the Gambling Act of 2005 are examples of how a visionary approach in terms of legal procedure can produce an industry worth billions.

It is exactly because of this effort that the UK gambling market is the biggest in Europe with a user base that comes near to 18 million accounts and an online gambling market share that exceeds 10 percent. Between 2005 and 2009, online gambling in the UK registered peak growth with slot games going up a whopping 328 percent while table games grew by 52 percent.

Online gambling in the UK has seen growth even beyond that of competing European countries because it also permits players from outside its borders to participate, unlike France or Italy which “fence in” their players. This is why the UK has become one of the biggest online poker markets with an impressive growth between 2005 and 2009 of 26 percent.

Future Challenges For the European Gambling Market

One of the future challenges for the European gambling market is to create coherent legislation on a European Union level. While numerous countries have individually found successful ways of legalizing and taxing online gambling, a continent wide legislation could significantly increase profits and reduce legal hassle, particularly when it comes to mobile gambling, the fastest growing segment in the field.

This will also help countries facing problems with licensing and taxing operators that are not set up in their country while improving the experience for users across the continent.