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September 28, 2020

What you Need to Know About Gaming Laws Around the World

Gambling laws vary widely from one country to the next. Sometimes the laws about casinos, online gaming, bonus codes and other betting activities are dictated by the country's leaders. In other cases the decisions were made based on the majority's religious beliefs.

In any case, it's a good idea to know about a country's gambling laws before you plan a trip.

United States

In the United States, gambling laws are set by the individual states. Most states operate a lottery but Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah do not have Powerballs or any other type of State Lottery.

For many decades, land-based casinos were only allowed to operate in Nevada; but over the last few decades, many other states have passed legislation that enables brick-and-mortar casinos to operate within their borders – these include Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Colorado, Michigan, West Virginia, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, New York, Mississippi, Louisiana and Indiana.

Map of casinos in Mississippi
Map showing the casino locations in Mississippi

Native American Tribes may run casinos in states that allow casino gambling without oversight of state regulators. Congress regulates Indian casinos which frees them from state laws and state supervision. Indian tribes may operate casinos only in states where casinos are allowed to operate.

A recent Supreme Court ruling has given states the opportunity to legislate sports betting. Until May 2018 only Delaware and Nevada were allowed to offer sports betting since they did so before anti-sports betting legislation was passed in the 1990s. With the Supreme Court ruling new states will be allowed to offer sports betting opportunities.

A part the State of New Jersey (here a list of sites authorized by the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement), Online betting is still illegal in the United States under laws that control money-laundering that may pass through online banks to and from online casinos. Those laws may also be challenged in the near future.


Gambling in Canada is regulated by local provinces. Each province has its own Gaming Corporation which runs under the auspices of the province's Finance Ministry. These Gaming Corporations regulate the casinos, the lotteries and any other gambling activities, including charitable gambling, that occurs in the province.

The Interprovincial Lottery Corporation (ILC) operates Canadian lottery games. It is owned by the five provincial lottery commissions – Ontario Lottery, Quebec Lottery, British Columbia Lottery, Atlantic Lottery (serving the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick) and the Western Canada Lottery (serving provinces of Manitoba, Alberta, Nunavut, Nortwest Territories and Yukon and Saskatchewan.

Interprovincial Lottery Corporation (ILC)

The ILC administers 4 games (Lotto 4/69, Lotto Max, Daily Grand and Celebration). Provincial Lottery Corporations market the national games as well as their own provincial games.

Online gambling in Canada is legal. Many of the provincial lottery Corporations offer their own online activities including options to buy lottery tickets online and options to play games online. Offshore casino gaming is legal in Canada. The Quebec provincial government is attempting to limit such offshore gambling activities in order to bolster its own Quebec Lottery but it has not been successful since doing so would violate the country's free Internet laws.

United Kingdom

In the UK there are multiple gambling opportunities for people 18 and older including adult gaming centers, betting shops, brick-and-mortar casinos, bingo halls, racetracks and online gambling. There is also a National Lottery, lottery and football pools which are open to individuals aged 16 and older.

Uk's National Lottery logo

Many of the betting centers (the old corner bookies) have installed gaming machines such as slots, poker machines and roulette machines. These machines are very popular and provide the greater part of the shops' income, above and beyond the wagers that are placed on sports events and other types of bets.

Online gaming is growing in popularity in the UK. It's legal for offshore casinos to offer gaming options for UK residents and many of the large betting companies (such as William Hill and Ladbrokes) see this as cutting into the profits that they realize from their betting shops.


It's estimated that more than 80% of Australian adults engage in some type of gambling on a regular basis. Statisticians say that this represents the highest rate of gambling in the world. The Australian gambling laws are extremely liberal which makes it easy for Aussies to enjoy a wide range of casino gambling activities.

Land-based casinos, state and territory lotteries and racetrack gambling are regulated by the individual states and territories. The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 outlawed offshore casinos from offering gambling activities to people located in Australia. Fines could be levied against the casinos but not the players so Australian citizens continue to play at these online casinos since the casinos continue to offer gaming options for Aussies.

THe Crown Casino (Melbourne, Australia)
Outside vista of the beautiful Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia

New Zealand

The New Zealand Ministry of Health, via the Department of Internal Affairs, regulates gambling in conjunction with the Gambling Commission. These agencies are charged with ensuring that New Zealand gamers have access to safe, secure and fair online and land-based casino gaming. The agencies monitor brick-and-mortar casinos, racetrack betting, lotteries, sports betting and online casinos.

NZ gambling legislation is enforced by the NZ Department of Internal Affairs. The Ministry of Health funds and coordinates services for people with obsessive gambling behaviors. The Gambling Commission licenses land-based casinos.

The NZ government does not regulate "offshore" casinos. Kiwis have unlimited access to these freemarket casino sites.

Author: Jeff Grant (info)


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