Which Countries in the World Allow Gambling?
Written by Julie
Published date · July 28, 2020 | Last Updated · June 23, 2023 | Read Time: 5 mins
Gambling has become a lot easier with the rise of online casinos. You can now play games on-the-go using your mobile phone or from the comfort of your own home on a laptop or tablet.
However, it’s worth knowing that online gambling isn’t legal everywhere in the world. As the years go on, online casinos are gaining more and more users and more and more countries are permitting online gambling, but it’s really important to know where gambling is legal and what the laws are.
Take a look below for our helpful list of gambling legality by country, which we’ve split up into European and none-European countries in order to be extra helpful and clear, just for you!
EU countries where online gambling is legal
Online gambling laws vary in different European countries. Gambling is 100% legal in the UK and all activity is regulated by the UKGC which was formed by the Gambling Act 2005. Online poker, online bingos, casino games, sports betting, scratch cards and online lotteries all fall under the purview of the gambling commission. You’ve got to be 18 years old to gamble online in the UK and as of April 2020, the UK has banned the use of credit cards to pay for online gambling including credit card gambling through e-wallets. Here is a list of the top 20 legal and regulated English casinos.
Online gambling in Spain is legal and the authority in charge of monitoring the market is the Spanish Gaming Act. At this time, it’s legal for Spanish residents to bet and play at any of the sites licenced in the country. Lots of the best-known betting brands have dedicated Spanish sites for the likes of sports betting and online poker.
A new Swedish Gambling Act entered into force in January 2019 which tightened the laws around gambling and online gambling. Any gambling directed at the Swedish market without a Swedish license is illegal. Svenska Spel is the only licensed and legal gaming site in Sweden, however gamblers don’t have to just use this site. It’s not a criminal offence to gamble online in Sweden and many foreign operators cater to the Swedish market.
In 2010, the French Gambling Act legalised online gambling in the country. The act created the Regulatory Authority for Online Games, otherwise known as the ARJEL. It is their responsibility to license and regulate online gambling in France. The French invented the ever-favourite casino game Roulette, so it’s no wonder that casino games are loved here. Pick from a selection of online poker, sports betting and horse racing!
As of July 2020, Germany has officially legalised online casinos and poker at state level. Online gambling was largely illegal in Germany up until now, with only about 20 operators with permission. Besides sports betting and poker, most other casino games will be fully allowed including slots. The changes will be applied gradually as the regulatory body Glücksspiel Neuregulierung Staatsvertrag will be introducing online casinos and poker among legal ways to gamble online in Germany.
Other European countries where online gambling is legal include Switzerland, Belgium, Hungary, Italy, Poland (sports betting and lotteries), Malta, Portugal, Denmark.
Outside the EU
Laws regarding online gambling in Australia are covered mainly by The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 (IGA). This act makes it illegal for Australian businesses to offer certain gambling services to Australian people. Only sports betting, horse racing and lottery games are allowed under the IGA. Gambling regulation is done on two levels, first by the central government then at a state and territorial level.
In New Zealand, forms of online gambling are prohibited under the Gambling Act 2003, but it is legal for Kiwis to use online casino sites based overseas.
Online gambling is mainly illegal in most African countries. For some countries, this is said to be due to a lack of the internet. However, some African countries do permit online gambling such as Kenya, Morocco and Mauritius. Countries such as Algeria, Cape Verde and the Ivory Coast allow certain types of online gambling such as sports betting or basic online casino games.
In North America, online gambling is legal in 12 states in the USA and varies depending on which type of online gambling you do, from online casinos to online poker.
Online gambling in Canada is a grey area. It is illegal for companies to operate online casinos in Canada without a license from the government but accessing an online casino from within Canada is not illegal if the casino is operated offshore.
Some countries in Central America and the Caribbean such as Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras allow online gambling. However, in Cuba, gambling of any kind is totally illegal.
When it comes to South America, Colombia is the only country to have a fully regulated online gaming market. In 2017, the first Colombian online gambling license was issued by the Colombian gaming regulator Coljuegos. Additionally, the Colombian government permits citizens to gamble on foreign-based gaming sites. You can also access gambling online in Argentina and Peru, but all kinds of gambling are fully illegal in Ecuador.
Just as with Europe and the Americas, all Asian countries are individually in charge of passing their own gambling legislation. The likes of Taiwan and Indonesia impose very strict laws when it comes to gambling with only local licenced lotteries being allowed.
Macau partly allows gambling and is known as the gambling capital of the East, although many of its online casinos have been flagged for misleading messages or lack of customer support.
Even Japan, The Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong have limited online gambling options, with it being said that Japanese residents often turn to foreign providers for their gambling fix and the only permissible gambling allowed in Hong Kong must be overseen by the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC).
With the exception of the Chinese Sports Lottery, most online gambling sites are also banned across China.
So, it’s important to check a countries’ online gaming laws and see if it’s actually legal to gamble online before diving in to play. These things change all the time, so keep your eyes and ears alert but we have a feeling that online casinos and online gambling will only become more normal as years go on.