Online Gambling Laws and Jurisdictions
Although the internet has a global audience, there’s no single piece of legislation that covers the legality of online gambling for the entire world. Instead, most countries have their own local laws that deal with the relevant legal and regulatory issues. These laws can vary wildly from one region to the next, which means that what’s legal and what’s not depends entirely on where you live. To complicate things even further, many regions make regular changes to their legislation as well.
At GamblingSites.com, we keep up to date with all the legal and regulatory developments within the industry, and in this section of our website, we provide current information about the online gambling laws in many different regions around the world. We also provide details on all of the major online gambling jurisdictions and the licensing authorities which regulate the online gambling industry. If you enjoy betting or gambling over the internet, then it’s essential for you to learn this information.
Further down on this page, there’s an overview of all the information covered in this section. If there’s some specific information you’re looking for, you can jump straight to it by using the links on the right-hand side. However, before we get to that, there are a couple of questions we should answer first.
The following article provides an in-depth look at exactly how online gambling sites are regulated. It explains the role of licensing authorities, along with the criteria that typically has to be met by individuals or companies wishing to obtain a license for operating a gambling site. It also looks at the various guidelines that licensed sites are usually expected to adhere to.Online Gambling Regulation and the Role of Licensing Authorities
Online Gambling Laws Around the World
The legalities of online gambling from within the United States can certainly be defined as unclear. Many sites provided their services to US residents for years, seemingly without any issues. However, there was an argument over whether or not the Wire Act of 1971 applied to wagering and gaming over the internet. This act was established to make interstate telephone betting illegal, but since it was passed years before the World Wide Web was invented, it obviously made no specific reference to online gambling.
In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed, which changed things to some extent. It didn’t specifically make online gambling illegal, but it did make it illegal for banks and other financial institutions to process transactions between US residents and gambling sites. Many sites took this as a clear indication that the US government considered online gambling to be illegal and stopped taking US customers as a result.
A number of other operators continued to welcome American customers, though. Their argument was that if they were based and licensed in a jurisdiction where online gambling was legal, then they weren’t breaking any laws. Some Americans chose not to risk betting or playing over the internet, but many more carried on doing so. The general consensus was, and still is, that any individual using a gambling site isn’t acting illegally.
In recent years, the legal landscape has changed again. A number of states have introduced legislation which openly makes online gambling legal, and some states have even issued gaming and betting licenses to operators wishing to provide their services within those states. Several other states have announced plans to do the same, while others are continuing to debate the issue.
The laws relating to online gambling in Canada aren’t as clear as they could be. There’s legislation in place which makes it illegal for any company to provide betting and gaming services to Canadian citizens without a license from the government, but there’s no law which makes it illegal for Canadians to use gambling sites that are located overseas.
Just to make things a little more complicated, the individual provinces within Canada are able to regulate gambling in their own regions. Some local governments actually operate their own online betting and gaming outlets.Gambling Laws in Canada
Online gambling is completely legal in the United Kingdom, and it’s very well regulated. Sites operating within and outside the region can offer their services to UK residents, provided they are licensed directly by the Gambling Commission. This latest provision was introduced in 2014. Prior to that, any sites licensed within certain white-listed jurisdictions were able to accept customers from the UK.
The clear legislation and strong regulation in the UK makes this region an attractive market for operators; the only downside is that they have high tax rates.Gambling Laws in the UK
Europe is made up of many different countries, and these countries are individually responsible for their own legislation. Members of the European Union are, to some extent, governed by the European Commission, which has some impact on what they can and can’t do. However, they are generally free to pass their own laws as they wish.
As such, online gambling laws in Europe vary from one country to the next. The industry is well regulated in some countries and less so in others. Our guide to European gambling laws includes information on legislation in the following countries:Gambling Laws in Europe
Australia and New Zealand
Laws concerning online gambling in Australia are covered primarily by the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 (IGA). This act makes it illegal for Australian companies to offer certain gambling services to Australian residents; only sports betting and lottery games are allowed. Regulation is carried out by both central government and local governments. There’s no law that specifically prohibits Australians from using overseas gambling sites.
The online gambling legislation in New Zealand is refreshingly straightforward. The Gambling Act of 2003 clearly lays out exactly what is and what isn’t legal. Most forms of online betting and gaming are prohibited, but this only applies to companies based in the region. The act mentioned above explicitly makes it legal for New Zealanders to use sites located overseas.Gambling Laws in Australia
Just like in Europe, the countries in Asia are individually responsible for passing their own gambling legislation. There’s no uniform approach across the continent at all, and the laws can be vastly different from one country to another. All forms of land-based gambling are completely legal in some areas, while they are all illegal in others. There are even some countries that only allow specific types of land-based gambling.
There’s just as much inconsistency in terms of the online gambling laws, too. As such, we’ve included several pages in our guide to Asian gambling laws, covering a number of countries individually.
Gambling is legal in most South American countries, although not in all of its forms. In Brazil, for example, only horse racing and lotteries are legalized. Online gambling at foreign websites is also allowed throughout most of South America, and some countries even have their own regulatory systems in place for the industry.
Our guide to South American gambling laws contains more information on the legislation that’s in place in other countries on the continent.
Various forms of gambling are legal throughout Africa. Several African countries are home to numerous land-based casinos, and South Africa, in particular, is a popular destination for tourists looking to play their favorite casino games in a different atmosphere. South Africa is also one of the few African countries that have passed legislation in relation to online gambling.
We’ve focused primarily on South Africa in our guide to African gambling laws, but we’ve provided information relating to other countries as well.