Which countries do not allow online gambling and why?
Online gambling is a thriving industry, but there are actually places in the world where it is stifled, largely due to local laws. These laws vary across jurisdictions and are often vague, but it would be wise for any gambler to check the ones relevant to his location before indulging in a wager. Below are some places where gambling is outlawed in some form or another, to get you started on your research.
Countries Where Online Gambling Is Illegal
- Turkey – Turkey prohibits online gambling unless it is for the IDDAA which is a betting company that the Turkish government owns and runs. Despite the laws on prohibition, though, the state has had trouble completely stifling it as a lot of overseas-based online casinos allow Turkish players to use their services. As such, further legislation has appeared of late to supplement the original law, including a penal law stipulating fines of up to $278,000 for citizens caught accessing an online gambling website other than the IDDAA and a law prohibiting financial institutions from processing transactions to online casinos. Turkey’s primary telecomm authority has also blocked several online gambling sites: 110 where blocked in 2014 alone.
- China– Online and offline gambling are outlawed in China, but lotteries are allowed and even operated by the state. Under Chinese law, lotteries are not considered a form of gambling. Despite the regulations on online gambling, though, some websites still accept players from the country. Obviously, the sites themselves are based elsewhere.
Incidentally, the above information pertains to mainland China. Other territories, like Hong Kong and Macau, actually permit several forms of gambling.
China’s stance on online gambling may be frustrating to industry members and players, but it is far from surprising considering how many other Asian countries take a similar attitude towards the issue. Singapore prohibits online gambling too, for example, as does Japan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Brunei and Bahrain. There are still some variations in execution and provisions across the countries mentioned above, by the way, as not all of them target both operators and players the way China does, nor do they all employ the same firewalling measures China does to keep banned sites out of reach of citizens.
- The Netherlands – The Netherlands’ stance on online gambling often surprises those more familiar with its liberal attitude towards prostitution and drugs. Part of it may be due to a state attempt at maintaining the monopoly of Holland Casino, but it is worth noting that not even this operator has an online gambling site.
The interesting thing about the law here is that it prohibits citizens from gambling on online sites that do not have licenses from the country. Seems permissible enough, you say? Not when you consider that the state issues no licenses for online gambling.
Still, online gaming has continued to flourish in the Netherlands as overseas sites accept players from the area. The government has also been talking about reviewing its stance on the matter.
Countries Where the Legality Is Less Clear-cut
- USA – The USA is another of the countries where some greyness exists on the laws for online gambling. This is due to the contradictory stances that may be found in its legal system when examined on both the federal and state level. Some states in the country allow online gambling yet the federal legislature seems to provide against it. We say “seems” because even that is questionable.
The law that arguably has the greatest effect on the legality of online gambling in the USA at the moment is the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act). Yet it does not actually come out and explicitly state that online gambling is illegal. Rather, what it renders illegal is the processing of transactions by financial institutions if said transactions are between citizens of the country and a gambling website.
This makes it significantly difficult for a US citizen to deposit or receive money from an online casino. After all, no bank or US-located payment processor will agree to do the transaction for him.
This means that you can still technically play on online casinos in the country. Online casinos can also operate without fear of running afoul of US federal law. However, one might well ask what is the point of both parties carrying on with those activities if neither of them stands a chance of remuneration or reward?
Take note that this is only the federal law, by the way. There are states where online gaming itself is banned outright. An unsurprising example is Nevada: no doubt there would be significant downsides to supporting a Web-based competitor to their Las Vegas casinos.
- Canada – Canada is an intriguing case because on the surface, gambling over the Web seems to be legal. Canadians can even get lottery tickets over the Web. Where the grey area appears is with specific legislation outlawing gambling websites that are not licensed by the country’s government.
When websites based and licensed elsewhere open their digital gates to Canadian players, they could just as easily argue that they are operating legally as the government could claim them to be operating illegally.
The law does state that they are carrying out illegal business with Canadian citizens because their licenses are from another government, not the Canadian one. On the other hand, it could be argued too that the aforementioned law has zero bearing on the said gambling business: for one thing, it is based elsewhere; for another, its license also comes from and is valid under a different jurisdiction. In other words, gambling sites can technically argue that Canadian law in this instance has no jurisdiction on them.
- Australia – Australia represents another of the more interesting cases. The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 prohibits operators of gambling websites in the country to provide their services to Australians, but not to people of other countries. This means that while there are Australia-based gambling sites, all of them actually cater to players from countries other than Australia.
As for the Australian players themselves, no specific legislation exists covering their activities. Due to the aforementioned act, though, they are restricted to playing on online gambling casinos that are based outside the country.