Online Gambling Laws Around the World
Gambling is not a new concept to discuss. There are a variety of perceptions worldwide about this topic. Entertainment is at one end of the perception continuum and illegal at the other end. Gambling has been around since the time of immemorial. It has been considered as a game of luck by some and a game of skill by others.
There is no unity among the countries around the world to regulate gambling. Even on the national level, most of the countries have different laws in different states. Thus, on a general level, it is difficult to regulate it.
There are many kinds of gambling such as Casinos, Table and Electronic games, Card Games, online gambling, etc. Every country has its unique laws and relations for each of them. 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 for legal and illegal gambling. Gaming law is not a branch of law in the traditional sense. Gaming law is a collection of laws and regulations from several branches of law such as criminal law, constitutional law, regulatory law, administrative law, contract law, company law, and in some jurisdictions, competition law. This collection of regulations and laws are applied to the gaming or gambling industry. At common law, consideration, chance, and prize are the legal terms that must be analyzed by gaming lawyers before any gaming is approved. You may ask, why? 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.
Hence, any kind of gambling that is banned by state law is considered illegal.
This is why the concept of gambling legality and jurisdiction is complex and differs from country to county, even state to state.
Internet Gambling: Legal or Illegal?
Online gambling becomes so 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 in place. In addition, online gambling is a grey area for many countries. Because it is difficult to operate and keep track of monetary transactions especially if foreign transactions are being made. Thus, developing specific regulatory measures for gambling becomes so 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 would gamble illegally. Because India has a large population and internet is almost available to everyone.
In Canada, online gambling does not have a definite regulation at work. But according to law, it is not illegal. On the other hand, in the US, some states have legalized online gambling. Countries like the UK, Japan, Spain, France, Australia, China, and Thailand have laws for legal online gambling. In India, online gambling is allowed in only two states- Sikkim and Goa.
Online Gambling Jurisdiction/Licensing
As I mentioned earlier, certain countries have specific regulations to license and regulate companies that operate online gambling sites or provide industry services (such as the supply of gaming software). These regions are considered as online gambling jurisdictions or licensing jurisdictions. Within these jurisdictions, there’s usually an organization that’s responsible for issuing licenses and regulating the licensees. These organizations are known as licensing authorities. If an online gambling site wants to offer its services to customers legally, it should hold a betting or gaming license issued by an appropriate licensing authority.
Why should you care about online gambling Legislation and Regulation?
The majority of online gambling regulations aim at companies that provide betting and gaming services over the internet. Hence, it’s unlikely that the government makes it explicitly illegal for its residents to use such services. However, I recommend you familiarize yourself with the relevant legalities where you live because I don’t want you to unknowingly break the law. I also suggest that you learn about the regulatory practices within the different jurisdictions. Some jurisdictions are pretty strict, while others are cooler. This means that not all operators have the same standard of regulation. This is something you better be aware of when choosing a site. There may be an advantage in using sites that are licensed in stricter jurisdictions.
Countries that Legalized Gambling
Some of the major markets for the gambling business are India, the United Kingdom, the USA, China, Australia, Ireland, Finland, Canada, Thailand, and New Zealand. It is interesting 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. In North Korea, all kinds of gambling are prohibited for the citizens. But they allow tourists with guided tours to gamble.
In countries that legalized gambling, the regulatory measures differ from country to country and state to state. For example, in the United States, there is a federal law for gambling. But each state has its regulations, too. In countries like Japan, gambling was illegal for a long time. Recently betting in sports activities has been legalized and various casinos have also been opened. Hence, even in the countries that have legalized gambling, the laws depend on the kind 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.
Aside from horse racing, the Commission is the primary authority for applications, supervision, and implementation of new gambling laws in the UK.
If you have questions about online casinos, land-based gambling venues, sports betting, or problem gambling support, the UK legislation has clear and definite answers for you. One of the most significant distinctions with UK gambling laws is that they cover both land-based and online services. This is so unusual compared to many other regions and countries.
Several countries enforce brick-and-mortar compliance but are loose about virtual gaming betting, either ignoring the topic or using vague language that’s open to interpretation.
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”
It is interesting to know that there are so many approved providers, so residents don’t need to look elsewhere for online gambling services. So damn clever !!
Did you know that there are more than 1,000 remote licensees that provide online legal gambling services? Also, they’ve got 8,300+ bookmaking operations throughout the country, the lottery, 51,000 pubs with two gambling machines each, more than 150 land-based casinos, and online betting services . Jawdropping, right?!
Gambling Laws in Asia
The countries in Asia are individually responsible for passing their own gambling regulations. There’s no uniform approach across the continent at all. The laws are vastly different from one country to another. In some areas, all forms of land-based gambling are completely legal, while in other places they are all illegal. Some countries only allow specific types of land-based gambling.
The same scenario applies to online gambling laws. Here is an example:
Gambling regulatory measures in Israel are short and sweet, and you should not be a law student to understand the gambling laws there. There are two legal forms of gambling, two governing agencies, and two ways to place bets. As simple as this:
There are punishments for illegal gambling in Israel and local authorities can make arrests or issue fines. Also, officials may occasionally raid on an underground gambling establishment.
South Africa and Gambling Laws
South Africa gambling laws have not changed since 1996 and the beginning of the post-apartheid era.
The National Gambling Act of 1996 acknowledged land-based casinos, bingo, a national lottery, LPMs, and sports betting. Then, a 2004 revision of the 1996 legislation addressed online gambling laws in South Africa by distinguishing between website-based gambling and betting. This revision allowed for online betting but declared online gambling illegal.
Since then, gambling laws in South Africa didn’t change. There has been an online casino provision in a 2008 National Gambling Amendment, but the government has yet to enforce it.
So, the South Africa legal gambling status remains virtually the same as it was 20 years ago.
In South Africa, punters can make bets on any sporting events and national and international horse races.
Europe Gambling Legislation and Regulation
As you know, Europe is made up of many countries, and each country is responsible for its own legislation. The European market is serviced by many of the leading gambling sites, but what is allowed and what is not differs quite significantly from one country to another. There are several online gambling jurisdictions located in Europe. Some of them are members of the European Union (EU) and are subject to the various rules and regulations of that EU, while others are independent. Each of these jurisdictions has an authority responsible for approving gambling sites for licenses. They regulate their 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. It is an organization set up to try and implement a fair, competitive, and regulated market for online gambling operators wishing to provide their services in Europe.
Gambling laws in Australia and New Zealand
If you are a New Zealand citizen and 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 Interactive Gambling Act, 2001 is the federal law that governs gambling in Australia. 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!
Gambling Laws in the United States
Defining gambling law in the US requires specific state references. Because there are Federal laws and State laws that regulate gambling activities in the US. Hence, I can define gambling legality in the United States as UNCLEAR. the Wire Act of 1971 was established to make interstate telephone betting illegal. But it passed before the World Wide Web was invented. So it has no apparent reference to online gambling.
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. But other states have yet to address primary aspects of the industry. The US modern laws on gambling are complex in part because they have been developed over several decades. Over that time, technology and society have changed, while the gaming laws (for the most part) have not.
In a sense, American gaming law is liberal. Following are good examples of this.
- State-run lotteries are available in 44 US states.
- Tribal casinos operate in more than half of American states
- Small-scale game and card rooms can be found in major cities, and plenty of small towns, too.
- The government allows a few forms of betting (for charity, or for the elderly) with little regulation.
But in other areas, such as online gambling, the US laws are not quite so progressive.
The legality of online gambling in America is subject to at least four layers of legal tradition. Some cities are moving to ban the practice, as are county governments, state lawmakers, and (in some cases) the federal government.
Currently, the following states are anti-online gaming states
- New Jersey
- South Dakota
In the end, KINDLY NOTE THAT: 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.