Online Gambling Laws and Regulations: What You Need to Know

When it comes to engaging and active entertainment, nothing beats online gambling. If you have the luxury to access online casinos, you can turn a regular evening of staring at the wall into a high stakes battle for your hard-earned bankroll. That’s always been the thrill of gambling. It’s fun and it’s exhilarating. It should be available to anyone that’s of legal age and wants to partake. The growth and democratization of gambling, and its widespread use has been met with some wildly differing views. Some say it’s a godsend, and others—not so much. What really matters are the laws surrounding online gambling. Once you get into it, you’ll find a dizzying cacophony of strange and often confusing legal loopholes. See, when we talk about what is legal and what is not, it is often limited to where the website is based. On top of that, one has to consider where the server is based. In a day and age where the internet can be spread out everywhere, how is online gambling even regulated? Here, we’ll explore some of the strictest, strangest, and cheeky laws around the world, as well as how they relate to you, wherever you may be.

Strictest Laws

When it comes to the strictest laws in the world with regards to gambling, you can be sure that the most religious countries on Earth will have some heavy restrictions. When it comes to highly religious countries, the Middle Eastern nations definitely hit the top of the list. It’s understandable and commendable within context, of course. That’s the culture and the laws put in place to keep people and social functioning to the top of their abilities within the bounds of their beliefs and constitutions. With that said, here’s the rundown of the strictest countries in terms of gambling laws.

Saudi Arabia

At the very top of the list is Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Kingdom has some of the strictest online gambling laws in the world. Actually, they have the strictest gambling laws, period. There is no such thing as a government-sanctioned or approved gambling agency in the Saudi Kingdom. When Saudi Arabia was formed as an absolute monarchy in 1932, they adopted a law system based around the Islamic Law. In The Koran, gambling isn’t seen in a very favorable light. In fact, it’s referred to in the book as “maisir.” This term, translated to an Anglo-Germanic context, pretty much means it’s an agreement between the people involved to grant false hope to the people or profit. That’s some pretty harsh terminology when you try to apply it to a quarter slot.


The consequences of operating a gambling operation in the Saudi Kingdom are pretty severe. One case in 2011 involved a group of Indian and Pakistani nationals that set up a gambling den in the City of Jeddah. Some were given life imprisonment. Others were charged to undergo various forms of physical beatings such as caning and state-sanctioned brutalizations. Most people, if acting in a small individual group, get up to a year jail time and some form of public caning.

The Exception

Strangely enough, there is an exception to gambling laws that may extend to online gambling restrictions. Muslim scholars, apparently, make an exception for gambling on Halal activities such as horse racing, camel racing, and fencing. Although it is technically allowed, it is still highly restricted and extremely regulated. All forms of online betting on Saudi horse races are to be cleared and sanctioned by the Saudi government. As you can imagine, this isn’t a very easy task.

Most Lenient Laws


In the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Sicily and on the way to Libya, is a geographically small island nation with a rich ancient history. It’s been ruled by many different monarchs and served as a trading bridge between many nations in the region. That county is Malta, and it loves to gamble. Gambling has been one of the largest income generators in the nation for about thirty years now. It rose to prominence in the 90’s for its openness to wagers and has grown to be the single most dominant figure in the world of online gambling. So long as you have a partnership with a citizen of Malta, you can file for an online gambling license easier than any other nation. Now, just because it’s relatively easier doesn’t make it cheap. It’s one of the most expensive places to obtain a license, as well as gambling.


Right behind Malta is another country of the same region: Monaco. Monaco has a Trang’s law that says that the citizens are not allowed to partake in the casinos. A bit odd, but the population has total access to the online casinos based in Malta. How that law came to be is a bit of legal misdirection, but then again, a lot of these laws are. Some are still opposed to the idea of the citizens of Monaco being able to gamble online. There are some active motions against it. So far, at the time this article is being written, none has been successful.

Canadian Online Gambling Laws

The great nation of Canada has some interesting laws pertaining to online gambling. Even though it’s not really seen as the gambling hub of the Americas, there is adequate legal verbiage to support means of legally throwing money into a football game. Canada has a few sanctioned and approved casinos throughout the provinces, the most famous ones being around Toronto and Niagara Falls area. Technically, the legality of an online casino in Canada depends on where they operate and what the regional regulations are inside the place of operation. That’s pretty clearly spelled out. What isn’t so clearly spelled out is offshore gambling. That’s how most people in Canada access their games. There are some legal online gambling venues, due to how few laws there are. There are New Casinos in Canada popping up all the time. Really, most people in charge of legislation don’t spend too much time on online gambling. It’s not on their radar of things that must be dealt with.

What This Means For The Canadian Gambler

For the individual player, that means you can access most online casinos from around the world. Frankly, unless the laws change, or one province decides to seriously clamp down on the gray areas of online gambling, nobody is going to knock on your door with questions and demands. When it comes to the online gambling venues that Canadians can access, the responsibility really rests on the individual to see if the spot is worth it. Along with those gray areas comes little protection in terms of being scammed. If you go on an offshore gambling website, you can’t go running to the local authorities and cry, saying an Indonesian Dog Racing book stole all your money. That’s on you, and rightfully so.

The United States

The United States, by far, has the squirrelly online gambling laws. They have the strangest gambling laws, in general. Everybody is familiar with Las Vegas. Vegas is the most recognisable figure in adult entertainment in the entire world. Almost everything is legal there: prostitution, public intoxication, gambling, and now marijuana. It’s a haven for the wealthy libertarian spirit and anyone who wants to escape “normal” life for a few days. Gambling is also legal in American Indian reservations. Gambling online, however, is a primarily State-run affair. Why? Because on a federal level, placing wagers online doesn’t violate any federal law. That’s a sigh of relief for people in the United States that want to bet on the game. The tricky part is getting your money. That’s where the headache lies. If you live in a state where online gambling is flat-out illegal, you might not be able to get the bank transfer. Some banks and credit unions may not accept money from online casinos at all. It all depends on where you are.

U.S. Run Online Gambling

The thing is, running and operating an online gambling outfit is tricky. That’s where the states have control. Not every state can run an online gambling site in the same way that not all states can have a casino. Hawaii and Utah are the only two states where running gambling operations is flat out illegal in all forms. In other states, it falls under UIGEA, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. UIGEA requires a geolocation so that the operations and the participants are known. This fits users and operators into a grid of “lawful” and “unlawful”. Some websites put up state-by-state restrictions at high costs. Others put up disclaimers and put the onus on the user. Either way, it is a tricky and often confusing dance of legal or not.

Sports Betting

Online sports betting is big business in the United States. If you’re a fan, once again, you can legally place bets online, granted you go to a state-legal online sportsbook. There is a whole list of legal online sports betting options, as well as accessible and regulated options. The key is to do your homework with these American websites and make sure they’re legal.

The legality of online gambling is always changing and updating. There are so many countries, states, and provinces that are working their way towards either legalizing or prohibiting online wagers. The key thing is to be smart about it. You can’t go into online gambling with the notion of “my money, my choice.” You have to be patient, do your due diligence, and protect yourself at all times through reputable websites. So be safe, read up on your local laws, and enjoy.

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