Online Gambling Laws and Jurisdictions

Laws & Jurisdictions

The subject of online gambling laws and regulation is a complicated one. Although the internet has a global audience, there’s no single piece of legislation that covers the legality of online gambling all around the world. Instead, most regions have their own laws that deal with legal and regulatory issues relating to gambling activity on the web. There are also a number of jurisdictions around the world that license and regulate operators in the online gambling industry.

These jurisdictions generally have some kind of organization that’s responsible for all legal and regulatory matters relating to online gaming and wagering. Some of these jurisdictions are very strict indeed, while others are much more relaxed, which means that not all operators are subject to the same standard of regulation. To further add to the complexities, many regions regularly change the relevant legislation so it can be difficult to keep up to date with exactly what is and isn’t allowed in some parts of the world.

Most of the relevant laws relate to companies that provide gambling activities rather than those that actually partake in such activities. However, it’s still a very good idea to be familiar with the legalities where you live, as you obviously don’t want to unwittingly break the law. It can also help to understand the regulatory practices in gambling jurisdictions, as this may have some impact on which sites you choose to use.

At we keep up to date with the legal and regulatory developments within the industry and as such we are able to offer you plenty of useful information on the subject. We have explained all about gambling jurisdictions and licensing authorities, and provided further details on many of them. We have also discussed the legalities of online gambling.

Gambling Jurisdictions & Licensing Authorities Explained

As we have mentioned, there are parts of the world that have specific legislation in place that allows them to license and regulate online gambling sites and other related operators. Any such region is referred to as being a gambling jurisdiction. Within each gambling jurisdiction, there’s usually an organization that’s responsible for issuing licenses and regulating the licensees. These organizations are typically known as licensing authorities.

For an online gambling site to provide customers with its services legally, it should hold a license issued by a relevant licensing authority. The site will usually have to base at least part of its operations within the jurisdiction where it wishes to be based. Because of this, many gambling sites choose their location almost entirely on the basis of the legislation and regulatory practices of a region. By choosing a reputable jurisdiction that employs strict regulation they will enhance their reputation.

It’s always worth checking that a site is properly licensed before signing up with them, and avoiding anywhere that’s not. We should point out that all of our recommended sites (see Top Gambling Sites) do hold the necessary licenses. You may also like to learn a little more about the practices of the major gambling jurisdictions, as this can help you make an informed decision about which sites are subject to the strictest regulation.

We have provided details on a number of jurisdictions on the following pages.

Online Gambling in the United States

The legalities of online gambling in the United States constitute something of a grey area. A lot of sites provided their services to US residents for many years, seemingly without any issues. However, there was an argument that the Wire Act of 1961, which made interstate telephone betting illegal, also applied to wagering and gaming over the internet. There was no clarity on the matter though. In 2006 a new act was passed, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which changed things somewhat.

Although the act did not specifically make online gambling illegal, or legal for that matter, it did make it illegal for banks and other financial institutions to process transactions from US residents if they were related to online gambling. For many gambling sites this was a clear enough indication that the US government considered online gambling illegal, and they stopped accepting US customers.

A number of other operators continued to welcome those from America though, the argument being that if they were based in a jurisdiction where online gambling was legal, then they weren’t subject to US laws. Although many Americans decided not to risk playing or betting on the internet, many more carried on doing so. The general consensus was that, if indeed any laws were being broken, it was the sites themselves that were acting illegally rather than any individual using them.

This situation continued for many years, until things began to change again more recently. Several states within the US have either introduced online gambling legislation and regulation or announced plans to do so. As a result there are now sites that are licensed within the US and there are likely to be many more to follow.

Click here for a more detailed look at the legalities of gambling in the US.

Online Gambling in the United Kingdom

Online gambling is big business in the UK, helped by the fact that it is well regulated. It’s also perfectly legal for anyone over the age of 18 to gamble online. Gambling sites aren’t only allowed by law to operate from within the UK, those that do can also provide their services to UK residents if they wish to. This is in contrast to many other jurisdictions, where licensed operators can provide their services to foreign countries but not within the region they are based.

Sites based overseas can also offer their services to the UK, providing they are in a jurisdiction that is white-listed by the Gambling Commission. This Commission is the organization responsible for regulating all gambling in the United Kingdom.

More information on gambling law in the UK can be found here.

Online Gambling in Europe

There are many countries in Europe and for the most part they are all individually responsible for their own legislation. As such, gambling laws in Europe vary from one country to the next. The legislation is very clear about what you can and can’t do in some countries, but things are little more confusing in others. Over the last few years, many countries have been changing their policies and amending their legislation accordingly.

It is, therefore, somewhat difficult to summarize the online gambling laws in Europe as a whole. If you live in the region, then you are advised to check your local laws yourself before signing up anyway.

For more details on gambling laws in European countries, please click here.

Online Gambling in Canada

The laws relating to internet gambling in Canada are a little unclear. Perhaps the most important thing to be aware of is that there’s no law that states it is illegal for a Canadian to place a wager or play games for real money online. This makes sense, seeing as some provincial governments in Canada operate their own online casinos. It is, however, illegal for companies to operate betting sites in the country.

It should be pointed out that the Kahnawake Gaming Commission does license gambling sites to operate from Kahnawake, which is an Indian reserve located in Canada. Kahnawake is considered a sovereign nation in its own right, though, and as such isn’t covered by Canadian gambling laws.

Click here for more on Canadian gambling laws.

Online Gambling in Australia

Gambling is a very popular pastime in Australia, and this includes the online form of it. There are no laws that specifically prohibit Australians from gambling online, and sports betting over the internet is legal if using government licensed operations. There’s legislation in place that makes it illegal to offer interactive gambling games to residents though, although many overseas operators do exactly that.

Australia consists of a number of states and territories, and these all generally have their own legislation and regulatory practices in addition to the national laws.

Read more about gambling laws in Australia here.