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Online Gambling (Worldwide Laws and Regulations)


The online casino industry has become a truly international entity, reaching the borders of many countries throughout the world. The only boundaries recognized by the industry are those that are defined by the rules and regulations developed by separate sovereign nations. For instance, Muslim-based countries do not permit gambling. Therefore, online casinos are unable to offer its services to residents from those nations.

Global Gambling

General gambling laws vary from one country to another. Countries in Europe are thought to have the most liberal attitudes towards gambling. Citizens in the UK have access to sports betting, horse racing, lotteries and brick and mortar casinos. In Asia, the gambling industry is still in its infancy, but changes have been ongoing.

Over the last five years, Macau (China) has become a true powerhouse in the gambling industry, replacing Las Vegas as the largest provider of casino games based on annual revenues. Japan and the Philippines are also actively investing in the casino industry as well. In other areas such as Australia, gambling is accepted as a form of adult entertainment, but the regulations and restrictions tend to be cumbersome.

Global gambling activity trend (by countries)
Graphic of the global gambling activity trend (by countries)

In North America, Canada and the United States have very unique gambling laws. Casino gambling in Canada is illegal. However, Indian Nations such as Kahnawake are considered sovereign governments and are permitted to make its own laws. Therefore, it is legal to gamble on Indian land.

In the United States, the Federal Government has made it illegal to gamble. However, states are permitted to make its own laws. Therefore, Nevada and New Jersey have passed legislation that allows casino gambling. Other states have used "loopholes" such as Indian reservations and offshore river sites to offer its citizens casino gambling without going through the state legislature.

Online Casinos by Countries

Online casino gambling is difficult to regulate because the Internet has no borders. The only way for countries to enforce laws pertaining to worldwide online casinos is to setup regulations directed at sire operators and employ strict enforcement measures. Let's take a look at Internet gaming laws for some of the world's most prominent nations.

United Kingdom - Because of its liberal attitudes, most online casinos want access to the UK market. Up until 2014, that was easy to accomplish. Online casinos were permitted access to UK players with very few restrictions. In fact, several regulatory jurisdictions (Malta, Gibraltar and UK Gambling Commission) fall under British rule. In 2014, the British parliament passed legislation that made it illegal to offer Internet gambling services to citizens of the UK without a license specifically issued by the UK Gambling Commission.

Italy - Up until 2006, gambling regulations in Italy were among the strictest is the world. In 2006, laws were passed that allowed more access to land-based casino gambling, but Internet gambling was ignored. After getting much pressure from the European Union, additional laws were passed in 2010, which permitted online casino gambling with strict regulations under the ADM supervision.

Canada - Technically, Internet gambling is illegal in Canada. That said, it becomes a matter of enforcement. For the most part, online casinos are permitted to offer services to Canadian players so long as they don't reside inside of Canada. As a caveat, Canadian online casino sites can operate legally if the company resides on Indian land.

Australia - Technically, it's illegal for online casinos to accept Australian players. However, the government has not yet found a way to properly police such activity. Therefore, online casinos operate without much fear of retribution. As a side-note, online casinos that were operating in Australia prior to the passing of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 are permitted to continue operating under a grandfather clause.

United States - The laws pertaining to online gambling in the US are as clear as muddy water. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 established that banks and credit card companies could not transact business with online casinos. However, it was never made clear if Americans were permitted to gamble online. In 2011, the Justice Department clarified that the only gambling that was prohibited by Federal law was sports gambling. Otherwise, it's up to the states. Currently, New Jersey is the only state to have legalize online gambling.

Asia - To date, Internet gambling is still illegal in many parts of Asia. In countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Macau and Japan, the government have a vested interest in the land-based casino industry and they don't seem likely to allow competition. There are no laws making Internet gambling illegal in Malaysia, but players who are cheated have no recourse through the Malaysian government.

Global online gambling market by value
Global online gambling market by value (in £bn)


As you can see, the world has very diversified opinions about online gambling. Worldwide online casinos do what they can to adhere to the laws of each nation. However, the system is far from perfect and each gambler is responsible for knowing the laws in their own country and adhering to them.