Gambling Regulations Across the Globe

Each country in world can be put into one of three categories when it comes to attitudes towards gambling – countries where all casinos (both land-based and online) are legal and regulated; countries where online casinos aren’t technically legal, but no one really cares if the citizens play in foreign-hosted casinos; and countries where casinos aren’t legal at all and anyone who dares place a chip on a (physical or virtual) table will be arrested and prosecuted.

Of course, there’s always some variations but that’s generally how things line up. With that being said, let’s look over the biggest countries on each continent and see where they fall within the categories we established!

Gambling in Europe

The vast majority of Europe is pretty easy to toss some bets in, since for the most part, all forms of gambling are perfectly legal and regulated on the continent. France and Iceland are two really interesting exceptions, as in both countries, online casinos have been banned but land-based casinos, as well as other forms of gambling such as bingo and sports betting, are considered acceptable. Some of the former Soviet Union countries have banned online gambling, but this is not policed.

As far as Europe is concerned, the only place that you should really be careful of is Turkey, since it – like most Muslim countries – isn’t fond of gambling in the slightest.

Gambling in the Americas

With the exception of the US, North America as a whole seems pretty okay with gambling, as both Canada and Mexico have legalized and regulated all forms of gambling – though in Canada, things seem to vary in the different provinces, so you’d better be careful. The USA, however, can’t seem to decide whether they love gambling or hate it with a passion. Aside from Nevada and Louisiana, all other states have a very narrow view of gambling, either allowing it in very small geographic locations, or outright ban all forms of gambling aside from charitable or state-run lotteries. Online gambling is only legal in 5 states, namely Delaware, Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

On the Southern continent, things are similarly divided – most of the countries seem pretty okay with gambling, while the rest of them operate on the ‘it’s cool as long as I don’t know about it’ principle. Argentina, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic all have perfectly legal and internally regulated gambling, with hundreds of online casinos shared between them.

Chile and Brazil aren’t incredibly fond of online gambling, but neither will punish you if you play in off-shore casinos – in fact, Brazil has a pretty big gambling following, and so many are pushing to have casinos legalized in the country, so who knows what the future might hold.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is Ecuador, which was fine with casinos until in 2010, when President Rafael Correa was able to ban all forms of gambling, including online and land-based casinos. Still, even Ecuador won’t prosecute anyone for playing in foreign casinos.

Gambling in Africa

It might be a bit surprising for some to hear, but Africa has been enjoying quite a lot of success as far as casinos (both online and offline) are concerned. Out of 54 different countries that currently exist in Africa, over 30 have legalized all forms of gambling, with over 40 South African casinos alone!

You do need to be careful about playing at unlicensed/unregulated casinos, however. Africa’s National Gambling Board is extremely strict with shutting down illegal casinos, and whenever you withdraw winnings from one of them, there’s a huge chance that they’ll be confiscated and placed in the Unlawful Winnings Trust, which has been specifically established for that purpose. You also face jail time and a fine, so try to double-check that any casino you play at has been registered by the NGB before you spin.

Gambling in Australia

Australia was famous as the home of some of the most passionate gamblers in the world until things changed in 2017, where the adoption of certain new laws severely restricted the access of online casinos to the country.

While you can still engage in all forms of gambling, nowadays this can only happen in one of the licensed and regulated brick-and-mortar casinos of which there are more than 10 dotted across the country. And speaking of Australia, we should also have a look at New Zealand. There are six casinos currently operating on its territory, the first of which opened in 1994 (only a few years after gambling was legalized in 1987), but all of them are land-based.

Gambling in the Middle East

Most countries in the Middle East are Islamic, and as a general rule of thumb, gambling tends to be banned in all of them, since it’s explicitly prohibited by the Qur’an. The UAE, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Kuwait and Qatar have all outlawed all forms of gambling and unlike most countries that have banned gambling but will turn a blind eye if you gamble outside of the country, the Middle Eastern nations will absolutely prosecute if you get caught. There are exceptions, of course – Dubai, despite being in the UAE, seems to be able to get away with having several large casino resorts on its territory. Aside from that, Israel and Egypt have both legalized land-based gambling and have several casinos on their lands.

Lebanon is an interesting case, since it offers exactly one casino on its soil (Casino du Liban) which is sanctioned by the government, but all other forms of gambling, alongside other casinos, have been banned.

Gambling in Asia

Finally, let’s have a look at the most complicated of the lot, Asia! Gambling laws vary drastically from country to country. Singapore, for example, used to be completely fine with any forms of gambling up until the government outlawed it in 2014. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Japan had a very anti-gambling stance, to the point where its citizens needed to look for legal loopholes and create complicated schemes just to be able to gamble. But not too long ago, the country finally softened up on gambling and began allowing land-based casinos and betting on sports online.

There are several other nations in Asia that, much like Singapore, have completely outlawed gambling, but like everything about Asia’s casino scene, it’s complicated. Taiwan has banned everything except for sports betting, which is legal online and at physical bookmakers. In Malaysia, land-based casinos are technically legal, but there’s only one in the country, so good luck with that – and the online front’s pretty closed-off, regardless. Similarly, in Vietnam land-based casinos are legal, but only for foreign visitors, as the locals are banned from gambling either online or offline.

In China, of course, all forms of gambling except for physical sports betting are illegal, which is why many Chinese players use Macau for their gambling needs (both physical and online) since that’s likely the Asian country with the laxest laws. India is an interesting case, since games of chance have been a part of local culture for hundreds of years, but gambling has been banned by a particularly old law that no one seems to be able to overturn, so many Indian citizens end up setting up illegal, makeshift casinos in their own homes. The status of online gambling is very unclear, while land-based and floating casinos have been legalized in several states like Goa and Sikkim.

Let us know what your country’s attitudes towards gambling are in the comments below. And remember to always know when to quit!

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