Gambling Laws Around The World

  • Updated
  • By Daryl Charman
gambling laws world

When it comes to gambling laws, they differ from country to country. Whether you’re off on your holiday or reading this from the far corner of the earth, here’s everything you need to know about gambling laws worldwide.

Gambling laws in Europe

In Europe, gambling laws for online and in-store casinos, bingo and sports betting are relatively relaxed.

The UK, Germany and Spain provide some of the biggest markets. However, Sweden, Romania, Norway, Serbia, Portugal Italy, Netherlands, Hungary, Greece, Ireland, Croatia, Belgium, Denmark, Bulgaria, Albania and Austria have all legalised gambling too.

France and Iceland follow different rules though, with sports betting, bingo and land-based casinos legal, however online casinos are banned.

While the Czech Republic, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Switzerland all have laws in place to stop online gambling. Although there aren’t any major restrictions on gambling via foreign websites.

If you’re heading to or living in Turkey, just be aware that gambling is frowned upon as it’s a Muslim country.

Gambling laws in North America

Home to the gambling capitals of the world, you’d think America would have limited restrictions. However, America is actually one of the strictest countries when it comes to gambling laws.

Differing from state to state, most of the USA has banned online gambling and a large amount of foreign online casinos won’t allow Americans to use their website either. Even Nevada, home of Las Vegas, bans lotteries and racetrack betting.

Only recently, in May 2018, have the high courts paved the way for legalised sports betting.

The states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware have the most relaxed laws in place, allowing citizens to make any form of bet.    

In Canada and Mexico, all forms of betting are acceptable.

Gambling laws in South America

On the whole, gambling is widely accepted and legalised in South America, including Argentina, Panama, Costa Rica, Peru and the Dominican Republic.

However, in Chile and Brazil, you aren’t allowed to gamble online if it’s operated in that country but can if it’s using a foreign website. Ecuador has an even more extreme approach, not allowing any form of it on their shores.

Gambling laws in Africa

There are 30 of the 54 countries in Africa that allow online and offline betting, with South Africa having over 40 casinos alone.

Some of the biggest markets are Botswana, Ghana, Egypt, Cameron, Kenya, Namibia, Uganda, Morocco, Zimbabwe and South Africa. This continent is fast becoming one of the biggest growing hubs within the gambling sector.

The main concern in Africa, however, is finding a legal place to bet. The continent is very quick to shut down unlicensed casinos and if you’re caught using one, you could face jail time and a fine. Plus any winnings made at these places will be confiscated.

Gambling laws in Australasia

Providing online and land-based casinos are licensed, you’re free to bet in Australia. New Zealand also has relaxed laws, unless it’s online gambling. This particular area hasn’t been completely decided yet, although you are allowed to gamble on foreign sites.

Gambling laws in Asia

The majority of countries in the Middle East are Islamic, meaning they abide by the Quran’s stance – only allowing gambling if it’s for charity.  

Pakistan, Bangladesh, Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE and Brunei don’t allow you to gamble online, offline or even using foreign sites and you will be prosecuted if you’re caught.

Interestingly, despite being a part of the UAE, Dubai hosts some big casinos. Similarly, Israel has a lot too, while Lebanon has banned all forms of gambling unless it’s using their one land-based casino.

In East Asia, the laws are hugely different in most countries. Japan only allows betting on sports online and land-based casinos, while Singapore has completely banned it all. Taiwan also rule out all forms of betting unless it’s made on sports.

China is a complicated one. Like Taiwan, they ban most forms of gambling (with exception of sports), but they also have one of the biggest gambling centres in the world in Macau. Previously topping the list for profit per head at $1,354, it’s an area which the Chinese government doesn’t quite know what to do with.

Thailand doesn’t allow any betting unless it’s using a foreign site.  

Whereas Malaysia and South Korea both only have one casino and ban most other forms of gambling, with the exception of the latter allowing sports betting online and offline. Like Macau (China), both of these nations also make the top ten profit per head list with $72 and $189.

Vietnam also allows land-based casinos, but only foreigners/tourists can use them. Everything else is banned.

In fact, on 9th July 2018, an $87-million illegal online gambling ring was busted by Vietnamese police during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

How old do you need to be to gamble?

The legal gambling age depends on which country you are in. The UK has one of the most complicated lists of laws with 16 years olds being able to buy a scratch card and lottery ticket but not being able to enter a casino, use a gaming machine or play bingo until they are 18.

The USA legal gambling age is 21, but a 16-year-old can play bingo in a licensed parlour and an 18-year-old can take part in the state lottery. Currently, Greece holds the oldest minimum gambling age of 23.

You should always check the minimum gambling age of a country before placing any bets.