Is it Legal to Gamble Online in the USA?
The definition of ”gambling” and the laws surrounding vary depending on which state you live in.
In Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey, some forms of online gambling have been legalized and regulated (only state-licensed sites are allowed to operate legally). In other states, it’s likely (although not widely agreed upon) that playing – and certainly operating – online gambling games for real money is illegal.
On a federal level, sports betting is the only form of prohibited gambling via the Wire Act of 1961. For several years, the Department of Justice (DOJ) maintained that the Wire Act applies to all forms of online gambling, but in December 2011, they corrected that stance by stating that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting – a result of a 13-page memorandum from the Office of Legal Counsel to the Criminal Division of the DOJ (source).
State laws, however, often indirectly prohibit gambling. Or to put it another way: it would be difficult to claim any forms of online gambling legal with absolute certainty in most states (lotteries and such aside). Most state laws indirectly prohibit gambling simply by making all forms of gambling unlawful that have not been made lawful.
Purely based on history, it’s unlikely you’ll get into legal trouble; then again, if something is illegal, you canget into trouble, and someone probably will. Gambling online may be illegal where you live. Contact a local gaming lawyer to get a better idea of your local laws.
Is it Legal to Gamble Online in the UK?
In our opinion – although we’re not lawyers and this information is only for entertainment purposes – online gambling is legal within the United Kingdom. Players should feel free to sign-up with any casino, sportsbook, or card room that’s willing to accept their business, and they can do so without fear of government prosecution.
The legislation was meant to compliment the 2005 Gambling Act. One of the most notable changes was that all online gambling services with equipment or remote gambling facilities in the UK would be required to obtain a license (even those on the former white list). A 15% tax on the gross profits of wagers placed in the UK was also added, a move that caused several virtual casinos to abandon the market or launch court cases.
The other major area of the legislation involved gambling advertising. Under the new rules, a site can only advertise their services to residents of the UK if they’re licensed by the Gambling Commission. Children (15 and under) and young people (16 or 17) are prohibited from appearing in gambling-related marketing materials, and those 18 to 24 may only play a significant role in material displayed at locations where betting takes place.
Most Popular Forms of Online Gambling in the UK
The Gambling Commission conducts a survey four times a year, asking questions about gaming habits to 4,000 individuals who are representative of the country’s various demographics. In the following list, we’ll look at the popularity of games among those who claim to wager one day per month.
- In-person casino games – 50%
- Online lottery – 48%
- Scratchcards – 44%
- Online spread betting – 41%
- Poker at pub or card room – 40%
- In-person lottery – 39%
- Online casino games – 37%
- Virtual gaming machine at a bookmaker – 37%
- Slot machines – 35%
- Online football pools – 33%
- Virtual dog or horse racing online – 33%
- Online slot machines and instant wins – 31%
- Online bingo – 30%
- Online National Lottery draws – 28%
- Private betting – 28%
- In-person bingo – 28%
- In-person National Lottery draws – 25%
- in-person spread betting – 25%
- In-person football pools – 24%
- Virtual dog or horse racing at a land-based location – 6%
The popularity of various forms of gambling in the United Kingdom varies depending on how many times the subject wagers per month. While the numbers above represent casual players, they look quite different for those who gamble once per week. In this case, in-person spread betting and football pools are the most popular, while online wagering on virtual dog and horse racing is third. An online lottery other than the state-run contest was second on the above list, but it falls to 12th among more serious punters.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Canada?
Prior to the rise of the Internet, laws regarding gambling in Canada were much simpler. Each province determined individual policies, whether they involved bingo, casino gaming, or lotteries (horse racing was the lone exception). The Internet crosses such boundaries, however, making regulation a trickier situation.
The legality of a Canadian resident placing a wager at an offshore gambling site that accepts Canadians is still unclear. While the providing company might be in violation of some law, there’s yet to be a private citizen prosecuted for such activity. As of this writing, well over 1,000 gambling websites make their services available to residents of Canada. (Although there’s a bill in Quebec that, if it goes through, would prevent Quebecers from online gambling sites without the government’s approval.)
Federal law has also determined that provinces may operate their own gaming sites as long as residents from neighboring regions are prohibited. This has led to lottery tickets being sold online and limited forms of sports betting conducted by state-run organizations such as Proline.
In 2004, the first entirely legal casino was launched within the borders of Canada. Owned and operated by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, PlayNow.com is available to residents in the provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia. A few years later, Quebec got in on the action by launching a similar endeavor named Espacejeux.
Popularity of Internet Gambling in Canada
The following information comes from a study designed to determine the overall popularity of Canada gambling sites. Participants in the poll were asked to name the forms of gaming they had taken part in during the previous calendar year, and this is a percentage breakdown of their responses.
- Lotteries – 92.9%
- Instant win tickets – 67.5%
- Electronic gambling machines – 33.9%
- Bingo – 10.4%
- Sports betting – 8.9%
- Table games at casinos – 8.1%
- Poker and games where players bet against each other – 8%
- Betting on horse racing – 5.1%
- Online gambling – 3%
- Trading stocks and futures– 2.8%
As the above information indicates, online gambling has a long way to go before it’s the most popular option for Canadians. It should come as no surprise that the two most successful choices—lotteries and instant win tickets—are sold in land-based locations where customers go to buy common items such as food and beverages.
Online Gambling Australia
The most significant piece of Australian legislation involving online gaming is the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. Put in place by the Commonwealth Parliament to protect citizens, it prohibits Australian-based companies from offering Internet gaming to residents. For those who enjoy virtual gambling, however, there are a number of convenient exceptions.
Firstly, offshore gambling sites may legally offer their services to Australian players. However, they may not advertise their sites via radio, television, or billboard ads.
Sportsbooks and lotteries operate under a different set of rules. If either one of these services is licensed to operate a land-based business in an Australian state or territory, then they may also provide a virtual counterpart for customers within the licensed region.
If an online casino wants to base its operations in Australia, it can legally offer its services to players residing in other countries. The only exception involves nations that prohibit offshore gambling and have sent a formal request to Aussie authorities.
Stiff financial penalties are in place for any operation found in violation of the Interactive Gambling Act. Individuals directly involved with the offending organization can be fined up to $220,000 per day, while the actual company faces a $1.1 million daily penalty.
The nation’s most important piece of legislation involving gambling was put into place by the Commonwealth of Australia, but territories and states usually have free reign to make their own decisions. If you’d like to know more about the land-based and online gambling regulations within a specific part of Australia, I suggest visited the official website of one of the following government bodies:
- The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (Richmond, Victoria)
- Tasmanian Gaming Commission (Hobart, Tasmania)
- Independent Gambling Authority (Adelaide, South Australia)
- Office of Liquor, Gaming, and Racing (Haymarket, New South Wales)
- Department of Racing, Gaming, and Liquor (East Perth, Western Australia)
- Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (Brisbane, Queensland)
- ACT Gambling and Racing Commission (Canberra, Australian Capital Territory)
Please note that the Northern Territory isn’t included on the above list. Oversight in this region for everything from prostitution to gambling was once overseen by the Licensing Commission, which existed from 2000 to 2014. This commission has been abolished, however, and replaced with a position known as the Director-General of Licensing. At this time, no website exists for the individual or their office.
Internet Gambling Laws in Asia
The continent of Asia is a diverse land, and the gambling laws of its nations are just as varied. While some regions embrace the long-standing Asian passion for games like baccarat and mahjong, others adhere to traditional Islamic law (Sharia) and prohibit all forms of gambling. Most are willing to look the other way for individual players, although a handful of nations pursue private citizens with the sort of zeal usually reserved for career criminals.
In the following section, we’ll list every Asian nation (in order of population) and give a brief rundown of their stance regarding online gambling. In case you’re planning to play illegally in one of these countries, we’ll also provide information on whether or not they’re in the habit of prosecuting individual offenders.
Since gaming laws and legislation can change rapidly, it’s always a good idea to consult a lawyer before launching a long-term career as an Internet gambler. While I’ve made a good faith effort to present the most accurate information possible, there’s a chance that some of these facts may have changed by the time you read this. The best way to stay safe is to stay informed.
While gambling is an integral part of Chinese culture, most forms of the hobby are illegal on the mainland (with the lottery being the main exception). Hong Kong is also restrictive when it comes to gambling, although neither region is in the habit of tracking down and prosecuting citizens who play online. Most offshore gambling sites are blocked.The self-governing Chinese island of Macau is much more permissive. Not coincidentally, they are currently the single largest gambling destination on the planet. Both visitors and locals should be able to access online card rooms and casinos without any problems.