Online Gambling Legislation

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Online gambling is an activity growing by the day, to the point of rivaling with its older brother, traditional gambling. Neither has a global legislation though, they are regulated by local laws and regulations.

Naturally, in some countries it’s perfectly legal to gamble online, while on others it’s against the law. This also depends on the gambling jurisdictions under each company is, which just means there is an organization that issues licenses and regulates those licenses – the licensing authorities.

Summing this up, any gambling site needs to have a gaming license issued by a gaming authority within their jurisdiction, which means that a site can pick the jurisdiction that is more convenient to them.

Having said the above, let’s take a peek on the state of online gambling across the globe.

United States

The best word to define the online gambling situation in the US is unclear. The piece of legislation that to some extent regulates it is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). This law was passed in 2006, and even if it didn’t make online gambling illegal, it did make illegal the banking transactions between gambling sites and US residents.

This lead to that many sites simply stopping accepting US customers. The ones that did continue to welcome American citizens had as argument that they have a legal operation, so they aren’t breaking any laws.

Accordingly, some Americans are not risking playing over the internet, while others continue to do it, considering that using gambling online is not illegal, leaving the overall situation fairly unclear.

Recently though the situation has been slowly changing, as some states have made online gambling fully legal, states like Nevada, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, while others have done the opposite. The trend is in the direction of legalization, as 9 states had online gambling bills in 2018.


The online gambling laws in Canada are somewhat unclear as well, similarly to what happens in the US. The existing legislation makes it illegal to offer gambling services without a governmental license, but it’s not also illegal for Canadians to gamble on overseas sites.

To make it even more complex we find provinces in Canada that can self-regulate, enabling the local governments to operate their own gambling outlets.

United Kingdom

In the UK online gambling is totally legal and has an excellent regulation, so a license with the Gambling Commission is all it takes for a company to be able to offer gambling services to the UK residents. There is a clear legislation which makes the region attractive for operators, but the high taxes are a negative point.

Europe and Asia

The many countries composing Europe have their own independent gambling legislation, even if the countries that are a part of the European Union do have to follow general guidelines from the European Commission. In some countries the industry is well-regulated, while on others it’s not, so each case has to be seen individually.

Similarly to what happens in Europe, also in Asia the countries are individually responsible for their gambling laws, so there’s no uniform rule that covers it all.

Australia, South America and Africa

In Australia the Interactive Gambling Act, from 2001, only allows sports betting and lottery games, and regulation is made by local and central governments. Australians can use overseas gambling sites.

In most South American countries online gambling is legal, but the types of legal gambling depend on the country. In the African continent, the country of South Africa is, most likely, the most popular gambling destination, and it’s also one of the few countries that has approved online gambling legislation.