The European iGaming scene has seen steady growth over recent years. Despite the inevitable period of volatility around 2020/21, the overall trajectory over the past decade has been one of steady growth. An overall CAGR of about six percent across Europe means the market will be valued at more than $70 by the time 2028 rolls around, compared with $47 billion today. Place that alongside the numbers for Australia and at first glance, the similarities are clear. Revenue from Australian gamblers is predicted to rise at about the same rate from $4.5 billion to $7.2 billion over the same period.
The rate of increase is similar and the difference in numbers reflects the difference in population. Or does it? Take a closer look, and you’ll notice that the figures for Europe represent 750 million people. That’s equivalent to 30 Australia’s. Yet iGaming revenue in Europe is only 10 times that of Australia. Sheer amount gambled is just one of several fundamental differences between the Australian and European iGaming markets.
Australians prefer to bet big
Regulators in both Europe and Australia are eager to tackle problem betting and it is in everybody’s interest to do so. Addictive behavior or people gambling more than they can afford doesn’t benefit anybody. It is harmful to the individuals and their families, but also to the casinos from a reputational perspective.
Problem betting is a higher profile issue in Australia than in Europe and there is one main reason for that. Australians bet more, and therefore lose more, than Europeans. The numbers we looked at earlier only tell half the story. We have seen that per capita, Australians spend three times more than Europeans on igaming. But that does not consider the amount spent offline.
Online gambling only accounts for 20 percent of overall gambling spend in Australia. In Europe, it is 35 percent. Crunch the numbers and what drops out is that Australians spend a sobering $1,000 per capita per year on gambling. Europeans spend about $180 per capita.
Different casino gaming preferences from pokies to cards
Another critical difference between Australian and European gamblers is their preferred choice of game. Look at any Australian online casino review site and the focus is usually on the best Australian online pokies. The reason is that Australian casino players like pokies above all other things. More than 50 percent of all gambling expenditure in Australia is on pokies, with sports betting coming in second at more than 30 percent.
Europeans spend their gambling money on a wider range of activities. There is not the same granular data for European gamblers, but we know that 39 percent is spent on casino games, of which slots (pokies) are a subset. Even if we assume half the money spent in casinos is spent on slots, it is still less than 20 percent of the total compared with more than 50 percent in Australia.
Therein lies one of the root causes of the Australian concerns over spending on gambling. A spin on a slot machine takes six seconds. That’s 10 spins per minute, so even if wagering only 50 cents per spin, a player can spend $20 in five minutes. With games like video poker, roulette or blackjack, each game is slower. For example, a spin on a roulette wheel takes about three minutes. The same $20 can easily last an hour or more.
The Australian obsession with pokies derives from their omnipresence in bars, truck stops and so on. Keep in mind that Australia is home to 0.3 percent of the world’s population but has 20 percent of the world’s slot machines!
Australian regulators are not in favor of the gradual shift towards online play, but it could be a blessing. Unlike the bars and cafes, online casinos present the player with the chance to try other games, ones that are potentially less of a burden on the bankroll. They also tend to have pokies that offer better average returns, as they have lower overheads to cover.