Gambling is a hugely popular pastime the world over with different traditions in each country.
For as long as there have been civilisations in the world, gambling has existed in one form or another. For example, many of the dice games of today had their origins in Ancient Rome and the lottery has been a successful method of raising funds for the state for centuries.
It’s no surprise that in the 21st century there are distinct gambling cultures all round the world, with different countries having particular favourite games and styles in the same way they have their own unique cuisines and cultural traditions. So, join us on a whistle-stop tour to see how different nations choose to make a wager.
USA: Home of the casino
Flashy, glitzy and glamorous, think of casinos and the first place that comes to mind is usually Las Vegas. Ever since the 1930s, the city in the heart of the Nevada desert has built a reputation for being home to world-famous casinos, including Caesars Palace and the legendary Bellagio. While the slots games are the most popular, other casino favourites are roulette and blackjack. Throughout the rest of the country many states also have casinos owned and ran by Native American tribes with profits they make going back into supporting the communities financially by paying for schools and other social projects.
UK: Online rules
Of all the countries in the world where online gambling is permitted, no other nation has taken to it quite as wholeheartedly as the UK. In the two decades since the first online casinos started to appear, it has grown to be the biggest single generator of gambling revenue accounting for over £14 billion in 2018. The success of the online casino in the UK is down to a number of factors. The first of these is that, ever since 2005, the government has taken an especially liberal approach to all gambling.
The second is the excellent access to fast wi-fi virtually everywhere in the UK which means quick, reliable online gambling. Thirdly, the high quality of the games available at places like 777 online casino sets the UK apart from other countries.
Glittering Macau is the Las Vegas of the East
Considering that China’s ancient civilisations indulged in a great deal of gambling, it’s ironic that the activity is so heavily regulated today. The government’s attitude to gambling is also filled with contradictions, making it even more complicated. Although gambling is against the law on the Chinese mainland, the lottery is legal with the China Welfare Lottery and the China Sports Lottery both monitored by the Ministry of Finance. There are also parts of the country, like in the Hong Kong region and Macau, where you’ll find casinos and all different kinds of gambling are permitted. In the case of the latter, it’s made the ex-Portuguese colony an even bigger money-spinner than Las Vegas.
Nigeria: Sports betting crazy
Football is the most popular spectator sport in the world and for many fans one of the best ways to make it even more interesting is to put a bet on their favourite team or player. Alongside online casinos, sports betting has become big business too and it’s especially popular in Nigeria. Figures suggest that Nigerians bet N730 bn a year which works out at around N3000 a day with 60 million of the 190 million strong population taking part. It’s fuelled by there being the choice of over 50 different online sites available.
Bustling Pachinko parlours are dotted along Japan’s streets
Walk down virtually any street in Tokyo and the chances are before long you’ll come across one of the country’s famous pachinko parlours. For the uninitiated, this is a game that’s a cross between pinball and bagatelle. Players buy a tray of metal balls that they release into the machine. Depending on which holes they fall into, this then wins the player a prize that can be anything from cash to a new TV. There are over 12,500 of the parlours in Japan – and they’re so noisy with all the bleeps and other noises generated by the machines that they’re very hard to miss.
Spain: A whole lot of lotto
Most countries in the world have some kind of official lottery that can give players the, admittedly very small, chance to win a huge and life-changing amount of money for comparatively little outlay. But few nationalities have taken the game to their heart quite as much as the Spanish. Called “El Gordo” or “The Fat One”, this is played soon before Christmas each year and has a total prize fund of €2.2 billion. But to share the money out and create as many winners as possible, the most any one individual can win is €4 million and there are over 14,000 winners in total.
Australia: Pokies aplenty
Drive down one of the many highways in Australia and quite often you’ll come across a sign saying something along the lines of “Pokies 3 miles ahead”. Some visitors will be quite confused by this but what it means is that there is an amusement arcade packed with slot machines up ahead. Pokies is the typically Australian abbreviation for poker machines and they’re a gambling favourite down under, with almost ever bar also having plenty to play on.
The Irish love taking to the tracks for a flutter on the horses.
There’s no question about it – as a nation, the Irish love their horses, and as a result, horse racing is their most popular type of gambling. As well as having 26 racecourses in the country – more per head than any other nation – they also have a huge number of stables where many of the world’s best horses are trained. With many of the Irish horses often the big-winners– so it might be true after all what they say about “the luck of the Irish”! Not only do the Irish love taking to the tracks, they’re also big fans of the lottery, despite tickets to play the game costing more than anywhere else in the world.
These are just a few of the gambling traditions around the world that we’ve had the space to go into here. But you can be sure that wherever you travel, from Alaska to Zimbabwe, there are plenty more different styles of gambling just waiting to be discovered!