The evolution of the internet has inevitably ushered in the rise of online gambling. Just as online shopping has risen steadily, the global online gambling market has grown to over $53bn in value as more and more gamers opt to wager online.
Even with the ease of access through our mobile phones, mobile gambling is not a legal practice in many countries. Other countries, however, have restrictions as to where residents may wager, such as limitations in various states and restrictions of offshore casinos. This demonstrates the importance of familiarizing yourself with the legalization of online gambling in the different countries before clicking on those highly enticing casino advertisements.
So what are the countries where online gambling is legal and where is online gambling is illegal? To help you stay on the right side of the law, and possibly win big the safe way, we’ve compiled details of the countries where online gambling is legal and those that prohibit the practice.
When it comes to online gambling, not all countries are subject to a unifying global law. Many countries are subject to the laws and guidelines of their own regulators. In the UK, this comes in the form of the UK Gambling Commission, while in the US, online poker and online casino gaming is only legal in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey – each with their own approach to legislation.
European countries such as Spain and France abide by the regulations of the Spanish Gambling Act and the Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne, respectively, for example. Canada sees its online gambling and gaming unregulated for the main part.
While gambling laws are wide and varied according to country and state, let’s explore the regulations concerning various countries and regions of the world where online casino gambling is legal and where it is not.
European citizens’ love for gambling has seen the majority of the governments permit online gambling. The small island of Malta is one of the continent’s most successful online gambling hub spots, with many gambling businesses choosing to operate from the nation.
Gambling is legal and regulated in the United Kingdom. The country was one of the first to address the issue of online gambling regulations by forming the UK Gaming Commission. Online poker, casinos, sports betting, bingo and keno are games regulated under the jurisdiction of this Commission.
European Countries where online gambling is legal, provided that all practices are within regulation, include Portugal, Sweden, Italy, Finland, Belarus, Serbia, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Hungry, Spain and Gibraltar.
As with many countries, online gambling is essentially legal in the United States, but not all residents may engage in the activity. Different laws are applied for various states. It is legal to wager in online casinos, poker and sports betting in states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Utah and Hawaii ban all forms of gambling.
Are online casinos legal in Canada? While it is illegal for online casinos to operate within Canadian borders without a license, offshore operators have the freedom to offer their services to local residents. Many Canadian players wager online with foreign online casinos.
Central America has its fair share of love for online gambling, with roulette being one of the most played casino games in the continent.
Taking the Caribbean region into account, licensing in Barbados is regulated by the Betting and Gambling Committee of Barbados. While casinos are banned on the island, slot halls are legal. Online sports betting is permitted, but only in the form of horse racing, which is conducted by the Barbados Turf Club.
Other countries permitting legal online gambling in this region of the world include Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Belize, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Martinique, Nicaragua, Panama and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
South American countries that have legalized online gambling include Argentina, Falkland Islands, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela, which all require a license to operate. Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay and Uruguay are not regulated.
There are not many Asian countries permitting online gambling in Asia, but those that do permit it often lack regulation. The countries that allow online gambling include Macau (offshore casinos only), Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Sri Lanka where there are no penalties for offshore casinos.
In the Middle East, Armenia is the only country that has legalized online gambling. Players can wager on all online casinos, bingo, poker, lottery and sports betting, as long as the operators are licensed.
The online gambling market is growing steadily in many African countries, with the lottery and sports betting remaining favorites among the locals. African countries that permit online gambling include Comoros, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Mayotte and Mozambique.
While there has been a perception that online gambling is legal in South Africa, the country prohibits it. Although sports betting is legal, the government has banned domestic casinos from operating in the country. Other countries prohibiting online gambling in Africa are Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia and Israel.
Let’s read on for further detail into the countries and regions where the gambling practice is illegal.
Regardless of the popularity online gambling has gained in Europe, there are countries that completely prohibit the practice.
Russia is one of the few countries that has banned all forms of online gambling. Residents of the country are prohibited from registering an account with online casinos. Russia not only prohibits online gambling, but restricts land-based gambling too. However, betting at land-based casinos is only exclusive to five regional areas.
Albania also forbids any form of online gambling. The nation passed laws banning online gambling as of 1 January 2019.
Caribbean countries that maintain a complete ban on online gambling include Cuba and Puerto Rico. In the latter, online sports betting and online lotteries are legal.
As detailed above, licensing in Barbados is regulated by the Betting and Gambling Committee of Barbados, with only a few exceptions to the aforementioned regulations.
The following South American countries prohibit online casino gambling; Brazil, Chile, Colombia and French Guiana. However, all the mentioned countries do allow online lottery.
Due to Islamic law, it is no surprise that most countries do not allow online gambling in Asia. Online casino gambling in India is generally illegal. Some gambling sites do allow players from various states, while offshore operators may be blocked in other states. However, players are not prosecuted for gambling online. Most other countries in Asia impose harsh prosecution for players who engage in online gambling.
Countries where online casinos are illegal and players may face prosecution include South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, North Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, Mongolia, Maldives, Malaysia, Laos, Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, Cambodia, Brunei and Bhutan.
As only Armenia permits online gambling in the Middle East, it is illegal to gamble online in all other countries. These include Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
What online gambling is legal in Australia? In this case, gambling of all types at online casinos and the playing of online bingo and poker are illegal in Australia and New Zealand. The countries do, however, allow online sports betting and online lotteries by licensed operators. Throughout Oceana, online gambling is illegal, with the exception of Vanuatu, where online gambling is legal with a license.
For players resident in any region of the world, it is important for them to know whether they are allowed to gamble online before they attempt to register with an operator. Although some countries hold a complete ban of online gambling, this is not to say that it will not change in the future.