Online Gambling Laws Around the World
Gambling has been around since God knows when and is not a new concept to address. Gambling types and styles are not the same across the globe, and so are the perceptions about gambling. Entertainment is at one end of the perception continuum and illegal at the other. Some consider gambling a game of luck, while others believe there is no win without a proper amount of skill.
Similar to perceptions toward gambling, there is no unity among the countries around the world to regulate gambling. In countries like the United States, different states have different gambling laws. As a result, it is hard to regulate gambling and gambling-related activities.
As mentioned, gambling is not limited to one kind. For example, there is online gambling, electronic games gambling, casinos, table games, etc with varying laws and regulations. Also, each country has a specific perception of gambling as a whole. In this article, I will discuss different gambling laws and regulatory policies around the world.
What Is Considered Legal Gambling?
There is no clear definition of legal and illegal gambling. In law, there is no specific branch of gaming or gambling law. In fact, gaming law consists of criminal law, constitutional law, regulatory law, administrative law, contract law, company law, and even competition law. This collection of laws, regulations, and orders is applied to the entire gaming and gambling industry or to some sections of it.
According to common law, a gaming lawyer must analyze the legal terms of prize, chance, and consideration to approve gaming. Gaming organizations need this approval because banks won’t deal with an unlicensed site. Also, the various credit card companies like Visa and Mastercard do not work with unlicensed sites.
So, in general, illegal gambling is any form of gambling that is not approved by state law.
This is why gambling legality and jurisdiction is a complex concept that differs from country to county, even state to state.
Internet Gambling Is Considered Legal or Illegal?
Online gambling becomes very popular since the Net boomed up in the 21st century. In many countries, online gambling was considered illegal because suddenly it gained so much popularity and there was no regulation at work.
In many countries, gambling is considered a grey area. Because in this industry, it is hard to monitor monetary transactions, especially in the case of foreign transactions. As a result, developing specific regulatory measures for gambling becomes crucial and challenging. In countries like Africa, the Net is not available to all, so the issue of gambling is not a concern. But in a country like India, if a proper provision is not provided, people may gamble illegally as the internet is available to almost everyone. In this country, Sikkim and Goa states allowed for online gambling.
In Canada, online gambling does not have a definite regulation at work. However, it is not banned by law and is not considered illegal.
In the United States, some states have explicitly legalized online gambling, whereas others have not. Countries like Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Thailand, and Australia have exclusive online gambling laws, which make it legal.
Online Gambling Jurisdiction/Licensing
As I have said, some countries have legalized gambling and online gambling. As a result, they put specific regulations in place and issue specific licensures to regulate and monitor online gambling sites, companies, and gaming software providers. Regions and areas with such regulations are known as online gambling or licensing jurisdictions. Within each jurisdiction, an organization known as licensing authority will be responsible to issue gambling-related licenses and regulate the licensees. So, an online gambling site must hold a gaming or betting license issued by an appropriate and valid licensing authority to offer legal gambling and gaming services.
Why Would You Even Care About Online Gambling Legislation and Regulation?
Authorities put online gambling regulations in place to regulate and monitor the activities of betting and gaming service providers. In other words, the regulations mainly aim at the companies providing gaming and gambling services, not customers and players. For this reason, this is very unlikely that you find a government or state official that explicitly made it illegal for the residents to use such gaming services. However, you should get to know the relative online gambling laws of your state or your country because you do not want to unknowingly break the law. It is also good to know different regulatory practices within each jurisdiction because some jurisdictions are pretty strict, while others are cooler. In fact, you will find operators with various standards of regulation. This is something you better be aware of when choosing a site.
Countries That Legalized Gambling
The biggest shares of gambling markets belong to India, the UK, the USA, China, Canada, Thailand, Finland, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. It is interesting to know that in some countries such as UAE, IRAN, and Brunei, gambling is strictly banned because it is against the ethics and culture of the country. Although there may be underground poker and other gambling games in these countries. Although in North Korea all kinds of gambling are forbidden for the citizens, tourists(if there are any!!) can gamble with their guided tours.
Countries with legalized gaming and online gambling have different laws and regulations to monitor the industry. For instance, the United States has a federal gambling law. But, each state has its exclusive gambling regulations as well. In Japan, gambling had been considered illegal until recently when the government legalized sports betting and casino gambling. Hence, even countries with legalized gambling, have specific laws for each type of gambling.
Gambling Laws in the United Kingdom
If I want to describe the gambling and online gambling laws in the United Kingdom with only a few words, they would be so damn clear! You cannot use this word for any other region, even for countries that have legalized gambling. Most countries are vague about online gambling, while others let various states, territories, or provinces decide.
Apart from Horse Racing, the primary licensing authority for the applications, supervision and implementation of new gambling laws in the United Kingdom is the Commission.
Another significant distinction with UK gambling laws is their coverage of online and land-based casinos and gambling venues. This is so unusual compared to many other regions and countries. The UK legislation has definite, concise, and clear solutions and answers for any gambling issue you can think of. For example, problem gambling, online sportsbooks, online casinos, land-based casinos, land-based sports betting, etc, have clear regulations in the UK gambling law.
Several countries have law enforcement only for land-based venues while ignoring or partially monitoring online and virtual gambling.
Take this one simple rule in the UK:
“Both land-based and online gambling are 100% legal in the UK, as long as the provider is licensed through the UK Gambling Commission”
Legalizing every kind of gambling with clear laws makes it easier to keep everything at the local and national levels. Because there are so many approved gambling services providers and UK residents should not look for international or other gambling providers.
Interestingly, the UK has over 1,000 remote licensees providing online legal gambling services. In addition, Britain has more than 8,300 bookmaking operations across its territory. Not the end yet! There are more than 150 land-based venues and online gambling providers.
Gambling Laws in Asia
Each Asian country has its own gambling laws and regulations, which means there is no unity regarding this topic across the continent. Gambling laws differ from one country to the other. Some countries have legalized all land-based gambling venues while in some others, it is completely illegal to operate a land-based casino and sportsbook. Meanwhile, there are countries with specific legalized land-based gambling.
The same scenario applies to online gambling laws. Here is an example:
Gambling regulatory measures in Israel are short and sweet, so you should not be a law student to understand the gambling laws there. Israeli bettors have to ways to wager, two legal types of gambling, and two gambling governing agencies. This is it!
|Israel Regulated Land-Based Gambling||Israel Regulated Online Gambling||Banned Gamblings in Israel|
|Sports Betting||Sports Betting||Video Poker|
|Casino Table Games|
Illegal bettors and gambling service providers will face serious punishments in Israel. Local officials can issue fines or even arrests for those breaking the laws.
South Africa and Gambling Laws
South Africa has not changed its gambling laws since 1996. In 1996, the country passed its National Gambling Act of 1996, which allowed land-based casinos, sports betting, bingo games, and national lotteries.
In 2004, there was a revision of the 1996 act. In this revision, website-based gambling and betting were considered two separate things. As a result, online betting was declared legal, but online gambling was considered illegal. Bettors can wager on sports and national and international horse racing events.
Since then, gambling laws in South Africa did not change. In fact, the legal gambling status in South Africa remained the same as it was 20 years ago.
Europe Gambling Legislation and Regulation
As you know, Europe consists of many countries, and each country is responsible for its legislation.
Many brands in the European market are among the leading gambling sites in the industry. But each country has specific regulations to address what is allowed and what is not.
Europe has several jurisdictions governing online gambling. Some are EU members and subject to European Union regulation, while others operate independently. Each European jurisdiction has its exclusive authority that is responsible for approving gambling sites and issuing licensure. Each authority regulates its licensees, too.
The EU online gambling jurisdictions are:
- Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC)
- Isle of Man
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) was created in 2007 and is based in Brussels. The organization aims to provide a fair, competitive, and regulated online gambling market for operators catering Europe gambling market.
Gambling laws in Australia and New Zealand
If you are a New Zealand citizen looking for some gambling-related activity, make sure to check the current rules. The country passed the Act 2003, which banned all betting activities. Today there are four classes of gambling activities and each of them requires authorization from the government. Besides, players should be older than 20 to become bettors.
Online gambling and online casinos are banned in New Zealand, but players can gamble at NZ online casinos operating offshore without being punished. On the other hand, customers who prefer land-based venues can visit them as they are safe and legal options. The primary authority which regulates gambling in the country is the NZ Commission.
The federal law known as the Interactive Gambling Act, 2001 governs Australian gambling industry. Also, each state has its own separate regulation for gambling activities. The government allows the operation of brick-and-mortar venues and prohibits online casinos.
All right, finally, we get to the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!
United States Gambling Laws
Gambling law in the United States is very state-based. In fact, federal laws and state laws regulate gambling activities in this country. Hence, I can define gambling legality in the United States as UNCLEAR.
Interstate telephone betting was declared illegal by the Wire Act of 1971. However, the act passed far before the WWW(World Wide Web) was invented. As a result, nobody can see any apparent reference to online gambling in this act.
There are three sets of gaming regulations governing United States gambling: local, state, and federal entities. Some states have had gaming regulations for more than two centuries wherase others have yet to address primary industry aspects.
The US modern gambling laws are complex because they developed over decades. Over the past decades, technology, the gaming industry, and society have changed, but the gaming laws have not.
In a sense, we can consider the American gaming law a liberal one. Following are some examples:
- In 44 US states, people have access to state-run lotteries.
- In more than half of the American states, punters can find tribal casinos.
- Players can find card rooms and small-scale games in big cities and even small towns.
- Some forms of betting like bingo games are allowed by the government with few regulations for charity purposes or for the elderly.
However, US laws about online gambling do not seem to be quite progressive.
Currently, Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Washington are anti-online gaming states in the US.
To Sum It Up
In this article, I tried to give you updated information about gambling laws and regulations. But I am not a lawyer. So, you should not take any of this information as legal advice. They are all my interpretations and opinions based on history and current facts. Always make sure to check your country or state’s online gambling regulations.