Is the UK Still Ahead of Australia When It Comes to Sports Betting?

Michael Kruse / 7 October 2020

Last Updated on 30 March 2022

The UK has always been a few steps ahead of Australia when sports betting is concerned. However, in the last couple of years, and especially after the Aussie online betting surge post-lockdown, the two countries are closer than ever when it comes to the numbers of punters and bets placed.

This doesn’t mean that Australia has surpassed the UK, but the increase in the popularity of sports betting is a trend that shouldn’t go unnoticed. If the Australian government acts on the advice from punters and betting operators, the country may soon be ahead. However, that might be easier said than done.

Complicated Australian Sports Betting Laws

The increase in popularity of sports wagering is in spite of the rather confusing sports betting laws in Australia. Gambling in the country is regulated by the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, and even though the act helped the Australian government have complete control over the betting services that Australian wagering providers offer, it complicated things for betting operators and punters alike.

While in the UK it is legal to bet on both pre-game and live games, in Australia, you can only do the former thanks to the Gambling Act of 2001.

Online in-play betting at licensed Australian bookmakers is off-limits for Aussies, and, strangely, the reasons for this are quite unclear, and even if you tried to understand them they would still make no sense.

The fact that punters can only bet pre-game means that the sports betting industry in Australia doesn’t operate to its full capacity. As a result, Australian bookmakers cannot compete with their UK counterparts as the two are not playing on a level playing field.

Sports Betting Figures

The numbers reaffirm the notion that the UK sports betting industry reaps the rewards from operating independently and without absurd restrictions in a completely licensed and regulated environment.

The annual sports betting revenue in the UK is $10.2 billion, while Australia’s revenue from sports wagering is $1.2 billion every year.

Of course, there are 41.6 million people fewer living in Australia and the lower revenue numbers are in part because of this.

However, when you compare the annual revenue in the gambling industry, including online and land-based casinos, as well as pokies clubs, you get unexpectedly similar revenue figures for the two countries.

The annual gambling revenue in the UK is $27.1 billion, while the annual gambling revenue in Australia is only $3.5 billion lower than that and is set at $23.6 billion.

So why is the difference in sports betting revenue between the two countries so pronounced, but when it comes to online gambling the countries are so close to each other?

A big reason for this is the fact that gambling and playing the pokies is part of the Aussie culture. People in the UK are not as crazy for “slots” as Aussies are for pokies.

However, another reason is the fact that gambling in Australia is not held back by absurd restrictions such as the in-play one imposed on Australian betting providers.

Aussies Are More Enthusiastic Punters

If we ever needed any evidence that Aussies are more prolific punters than people in the UK, we should just look at the annual gambling expenditure per adult for both countries.

In Australia, an adult spends $1,292.25 on gambling every year. That’s more than double when compared with how much an adult in the UK spends each year.

An adult in the UK spends $526.73 on gambling annually, and that’s in spite of betting in a more liberal and lax betting environment.

Even the year-on-year increase in gambling revenue is much more pronounced in Australia. In the UK, there was only a small increase in gambling expenditure per adult of 1.2%, while in Australia the increase in gambling revenue was 3.3% for the past financial year.

You can only imagine how much closer the two countries would be if Australian authorities decided to legalize in-play betting and to make it easier for Aussie punters to place their bets.

In the past year, only 5% of the total gambling revenue in Australia came from sports betting. On the other hand, in the UK over a third of the country’s gambling revenue was from sports betting.

If the Australian federal government creates a level playing field for Aussie punters, it is guaranteed that sports betting revenue figures will increase instantly. Aussies are far more enthusiastic gamblers and they only need fair wagering laws to flourish.

What is more, it is not inconceivable that once the government does that and passes an updated gambling and wagering law, Australia may finally catch up and even surpass the UK when betting is concerned.

Michael Kruse
Michael loves all things all horse racing and has been in the game for quite some time. His knowledge in the betting space is second... [Read full bio]

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