Online Gambling and the Law

Why you should read this page

When you read through this page you'll enjoy a nice overview of the different laws that online gamblers have to face depending on where they live. The page covers all of the following.

  • Gambling laws in Asia
  • The laws in all of the Americas
  • The different laws for European countries
  • General online gambling laws

Online gambling began in 1994 with a handful of websites. By the late 90's online gaming was in full force world-wide with about 200 websites throughout the world with revenues close to a billion dollars. Despite the promising revenue and popularity of online access to popular games of chance and more skill-based games like poker, not all countries were eager to embrace the legislation and legalization online gambling.

While some Asian countries have made it illegal for players to gamble online, most other countries (including European and North American countries) have legislated against operating and advertising online gambling sites meaning that playing on online sites is still totally legal. The risks involved in doing that will be reviewed below after a look at the current legality of online gambling in several countries around the world.

Is it legal to play at online casinos? It depends on the country that you are in and their laws. Can you play online slots legally? Find out here.

Europe

The European Union does not currently have a uniform policy towards online gambling.

The European Union does not currently have a uniform policy towards online gambling. All online gambling is permitted in the United Kingdom, including permission for online sites licensed in other EU countries to solicit UK players.

However, there may be changes to this UK legislation with proposals looking to require that all service providers be residents of Great Britain in order to be licensed to operate in the UK. In France, only horse and sports betting are permitted online. Casino and card games are not included in the current legislation.

Spain has a more liberal policy towards online gambling and allows many forms of sports betting, casino games and games of skill online. However, any form of gambling not expressly regulated remains illegal in Spain so there are no online slots games permitted. In Germany, the German Interstate Treaty from 2008 prohibits all online gambling with the exception of horse betting.

Asia

Laws

The laws in Japan, China, Vietnam, and Singapore forbid all types of online gambling with the exception of a couple of government run lotteries. In South Korea, there is currently legislation under consideration to categorize online gaming with drugs and alcohol as an "anti-social addiction". In the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Macau, online gambling is legalized.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the Australian government passed laws in 2001 prohibiting all foreign and most domestic service providers from offering and advertising online gambling to Australian players. Sports betting sites and lotteries were exempted from these laws. New Zealand law prohibits anyone other than the Totalisator Agency (TAB) or the New Zealand Racing Board from advertising or operating online gambling services.

The Americas

US national laws forbid operating online gambling sites but state laws have been passed in in several states.

Most South America countries have some sort of permitted online gambling. Argentina allows local sites to operate but bans all foreign sites. Chile, Peru, and Ecuador allow citizens to openly play on local and foreign online sites. Online slots are not allowed in Brazil.

Canadian laws basically forbid online gambling sites from operating within the country borders with the exception of the Kahnawake native reserves. In practice, provincial governments in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia are already operating online casinos. And gambling sites located outside of Canadian borders do advertise and offer services to Canadian players.

In the United States, the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act effectively made it illegal for any online gambling sites domestic or international, to accept payment for bets and wagers online. Many well-established foreign online gaming operators stopped accepted US players. US national laws forbid operating online gambling sites but state laws have been passed in in several states (Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware) that supersede Federal laws and have allowed state-run online gaming sites.

General Gambling Laws

Online gambling laws in many nations can be very unclear or even nonexistent. In most areas of the globe online gambling is uncontrolled. If you live in an area where licensed online casinos are permitted, then you’ll have no trouble finding a suitable casino at which to play. Joining licensed online casinos, making deposits, and initiating withdrawals may be done simply and quickly.

There are some countries that outright prohibit online casino play. In doing so, they rarely, if ever, focus on players. Instead, they prohibit the transfer of funds to offshore gambling sites by financial institutions and credit card companies. They make it difficult for players to fund their accounts. Still, many online casinos accept Bit Coin or allow players to use wire transfer services to fund their casino accounts.

If you simply want to play free online casino games, that is slots, table and card games, video poker, and other forms of gambling, online for play money, then you’ll have no problem doing so. Prohibitions concerning online gaming are almost always limited to real money games.

In the end, you’ll find that if you want to play slots and other games for real cash, you should be able to do so from virtually anywhere. Online casinos are readily available to you.