Expensive Bets

Have you ever wondered how much money is lost in gambling activities in the U.S., or how that compares to other countries? Recently, The Economist magazine published a chart which adds up all the money that gamblers have lost using non-casino gaming machines, making bets in casinos, betting on sports or other activities, participating in lotteries, or betting with each other in card games, office pools and other activities.

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The total losses will reach an estimated $488 billion this year, by the magazine’s reckoning, of which $142.6 billion will come out of the pockets of Americans. This is by far the largest piece of the total, although China weighs in at a respectable $95.4 billion. Japan comes in a distant third, at $29.8 billion, followed by Italy ($23.9 billion), Britain ($23.6 billion) and Australia ($20.3 billion).

However, when the losses are measured per resident of each country, Australia and Singapore are easily the global leaders. Australian citizens rack up, on average, more than $1,130 in gambling losses a year, and the number tops $1,000 per resident in Singapore. In the U.S., the average is just under $600. Casinos rake in a big share of the money in Singapore and the U.S., but hardly factor into the losses in places like Finland, Ireland, Norway, Italy or Britain.

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