Staggering Figure: Unlicenced Play in the US Found to be Over Half a Trillion

Published December 6, 2022 by Lee R

Staggering Figure: Unlicenced Play in the US Found to be Over Half a Trillion

Unlicenced play continues in unregulated regions.

A new report estimates the unlicensed gambling market to be worth over a half trillion USD.

Unlicenced Totals

Yes, you read right: the American Gaming Association has put the annual US illegal gambling market take at $44.2bn per annum, with $511bn bet in total for the year.

Study Categories

The Innovation Group-funded report identified and examined three sectors of unregulated gaming: sports betting, online casino, and “skill gaming” machines.

The Study Design

The survey of 5,284 US adults included queries compared results of “overall gambling habits” for both regulated and unregulated land-based and online gaming. 

Comparing Data

To determine the extent to which players may over-or under-report spending, total spend was tabulated in comparison to official industry figures. 

More Metrics

Further metrics were used to inform the figures including baseline public reporting, census data and more factors to give provide a more realistic estimate of the unlicensed market. 

AGA Prez Speaks

AGA President and CEO Bill Miller explained the research goals further. First, he took issue with the operators:

“Illegal and unregulated gambling is a scourge on our society, taking advantage of vulnerable consumers, skirting regulatory obligations and robbing communities of critical tax revenue for infrastructure, education and more.” 

Research Meaning

Miller called the updated figures less of a surprise than a message: 

“We have always known that the illegal and unregulated market is expansive, but this report illuminates just how pervasive it is.”

Vertical Breakdown

The largest vertical for the unlicenced activity was online slots and table games, with a total estimated stake found to be $337.9bn per annum for revenues of $13.5bn in revenue to those unlicensed operators.

Legal v Illegal Play

The report further indicates that over half of America’s online casino players (52%) stuck to legal casino sites, while 30% of players used illegal sites exclusively, and 18% played at both.

Regional Breakdown Patterns

Demographically speaking, the players staking the most on online casinos were predictably in the south ($150.8bn, $6b revenue), a region in which no states regulate online play.  

The midwest brought revenue totals of $3.7bn on stakes of $91.8bn, the west brought $2.0bn ($49.2bn stake), the northeast where online casino regulation is most abundant brought the lowest illegal revenue at $1.9bn, on stakes of $46.1bn.


While each state decides whether not to regulate, these figures indicate that players in the US are playing either way, and the half-trillion figure represents a massive amount of untaxed revenues that will remain unharnessed until regulation spreads further.

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