It’s well known that online gambling is enjoyed by players across the globe. However, online gambling (and sometimes gambling activities of any kind) is banned in certain countries. If you’re new to the iGaming industry and are keen to start an online casino, a betting site, etc., you might be wondering: Where is online gambling legal?
Here, TCS will give you the lowdown on the countries where gambling is legal to help you know which locations are available, so you can narrow down your choice of target market and obtain the appropriate gambling license or license you need.
Online Gambling Market Availability – What Countries Allow Online Gambling?
Legal gambling online occurs in countries across Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Oceania. That being said, while almost every country has its own laws pertaining to the regulation of land-based gambling activities, when it comes to online gambling, rules tend to be more ambiguous. As such what is and what is not permitted in regard to local online gambling operators and foreign gambling operators can vary widely from country to country, state to state, province to province, and even differ by county or city.
For instance, in some countries:
- Local iGaming businesses are prohibited from operating without a local license, but offshore (foreign) gambling sites can offer their services to local residents without requiring a local license.
- Online gambling is permitted only if the operators hold a local license.
- Certain types of local gambling businesses are prohibited to operate online and residents are prohibited from gambling online, however, foreign platforms manage to operate freely in the country even without a license.
- Online gambling is not prohibited or licensed.
With that said, here’s a look at where online gambling occurs around the world, regardless of whether it is regulated by laws or not.
Note: Please be advised that gambling laws by country continuously change. Though the following information provided was accurate at the time of its writing, it is meant for general information purposes only. Moreover, keep in mind that not every jurisdiction where online gambling is legal permits all forms of gambling activity. When you are seriously investigating licenses for target markets for your business, always check current local laws that are specific to the type of iGaming operation you plan to launch (e.g. Casino, Sports Betting, Bingo, Poker, Lotto, etc.).
Countries governed by strict local regulations and laws
These are the countries that allow online gambling only if the operator is licensed by the local regulator.
These countries require all online gambling operators – those that operate locally within the country and those that operate out of other countries – to obtain a license and fulfill all legal requirements put forth by the regulator. This includes everything from KYC requirements, strict anti-fraud and security measures to fair gaming and responsible gambling to protect vulnerable and underage players.
Conditions are equal for all operators (local or foreign) and every license holder must pay taxes to the budget. There is no grey area with local license requirements. You either follow the online gambling regulations to legally operate and market your services to the residents within their jurisdiction or you will be blocked.
Countries that do not regulate foreign online gambling sites
These are the countries that require local operators within their nations to be licensed and regulated by governments where gambling activity is legal, but that do not regulate internet gambling businesses that operate out of foreign countries.
In these countries, local casinos and/or betting operators must undergo the licensing procedure of their local regulator and pay taxes to the local government. On the flip side, foreign operators are not subject to these same laws and can be licensed in any international jurisdiction or even operate without a license at all.
For instance, in Canada, it is illegal for a company to provide casino games and betting services to citizens without a license from the local government. That said, there is no all-encompassing federal law that regulates gambling across the nation. Each province regulates gambling in its region, with some local governments operating their own online betting and gaming outlets. However, there is no law that makes it illegal for Canadians to use gambling sites located overseas.
*A note about online gambling in the United States – Since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in 2006, two of the most common questions would-be iGaming operators have wondered are: is it legal to gamble online in the US? Is online betting legal in the US? The answer to both questions is yes and no. Just as online gambling laws vary from province to province in Canada, online gambling laws vary from state to state in the US, with the exception being that in some US states, gambling is illegal.
Why is gambling legal in some states and not others? Simply put, there is no federal law that regulates gambling across the country. It’s up to each state to decide if any, all, or no form of gambling is permitted within their jurisdictions. More to the point, if you want to legally operate an iGaming business in the United States, you need to obtain the appropriate license from the local regulator where gambling is allowed. Examples of states with legal online gambling include:
- New Jersey (online casinos, online sports betting, online poker)
- Delaware (online casinos)
- Oregon (online casinos, online sports betting)
- Pennsylvania (online casinos, online sports betting, online poker)
- West Virginia (online casinos, online sports betting, online poker)
- Iowa (online sports betting)
- Michigan (online casinos, online sports betting)
- Nevada (online poker, online sports betting)
- Indiana (online sports betting)
Like the other countries in the above table, there is no specific law in the US that prevents Americans from playing at iGaming sites licensed in a foreign jurisdiction where online gambling is legal. The general principle remains that any person using a gambling site is not acting illegally. The good news is that, today, not only are more states openly making online gambling legal, but they are also issuing gaming and betting licenses to operators who wish to provide services to residents within their state.
Countries where all or some local gambling is prohibited but foreign sites are not blocked
These are the countries where local businesses are prohibited from providing all or certain types of land-based/online gambling (e.g. online casinos) and it is illegal for citizens to engage in these activities, but foreign online operators are not blocked.
In these countries, all or certain types of local gambling (casino, sports betting, lotto, bingo, poker, etc.) – land-base and/or online – is prohibited within the region. That said, foreign online sites are not blocked and can be licensed in any jurisdiction or not at all. The reason behind this lack of blocking is likely due to the governments’ unwillingness or inability to prevent it (e.g. lack of funds, time, knowledge, resources, etc.).
For instance, in the Cayman Islands, gambling is illegal and local residents are liable for participating in Gambling. Meanwhile, in Australia, under the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act the only forms of online gambling that are legal in the country are sports betting, racing and lotteries. Real money online casinos and slot machines are illegal in Australia. That said in the case of both the Cayman Islands, Australia, and all other countries in the above list, there is no law that prevents foreign operators of online casinos and other forms of gambling from accepting residents from these countries.
Still though, you might wonder, is it legal to gamble online in these countries? Not necessarily. Keep in mind that simply because a country does not go out of its way to block the activity provided by foreign sites, this doesn’t mean it is legal for its residents to participate. It’s important to remember this because marketing to- and providing services to residents of these countries could potentially lead to complications or even penalties. Ultimately, to run the safest operation, it’s best to steer clear of jurisdictions where the type of online gambling service you wish to offer is illegal.
Countries with no restrictions
These are countries where online gambling activities are not typically restricted.
There are few – if any – restrictions on internet gambling in these countries, which means most forms of gambling are permitted. Additionally, most (but not all countries) do not regulate gambling activities either.
For instance, in Egypt, online gambling is technically not illegal. The country has no laws that govern online gambling, so players can enjoy it with little risk. Instead, the nation’s governments are more focused on preventing operators from opening shops in the country. Whereas in Malta, there are no real restrictions on the types of gambling (online or land-based) that can be enjoyed in the country, as long as local operators are licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority and residents who partake in these activities are 25+.
What is the Largest Online Gambling Market in the World?
The largest online gambling market in the world is Europe. According to a Graphical Research Report, the European online gambling market size exceeded (US)$25 billion in 2019 and is expected to have more than a 14% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) from 2022 – 2026.
Although there are several countries in Europe that have notably contributed to its revenue growth, including Italy, Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands, hands down the UK accounts for the largest portion of Europe’s online gambling market revenue. According to the European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA), in 2019, the UK accounted for 30.1% of Europe’s revenue. To put this into greater perspective, the country following the UK with the greatest contribution was Germany at 11.4%.
There’s no question that Europeans like to gamble for real money online. As for the most popular online gambling activities in Europe, these include (in order of popularity): Sports betting, casino, lottery, poker, bingo and other/skill gaming. In general, Europe is considered to be a good place to launch an online sportsbook or online casino as many European regulators have transparent laws and fair licensing terms.
What is the size of the online gambling market?
The European market aside, the reality is that whether players choose to gamble online legally within their own countries or at offshore sites, the global online (remote) gambling market continues to grow year after year due to the passing of new laws, changing times, and improved technology.
According to a Grand View Research report, by 2027, the global online gambling market size is forecasted to reach US$127.3 billion, registering a CAGR of 11.5% from 2020 – 2027.
Choose a Platform with the License You Need
Knowing where online gambling is legal is important when deciding on which markets to target. When starting an iGaming business, choosing specific markets is a vital strategy for establishing your new brand. Trying to take on the whole world at once is a fast pass to failure. What’s equally important to picking a market(s) is knowing which iGaming software platform can help you obtain the license you require.
You have two main options:
1 – Choose a while label platform – The license you require is provided for you, along with a fully equipped and read-to-go turnkey platform. Examples of legitimate software providers that provide this service include:
White Hat Gaming
For instance, in addition to a wide range of casino games, a powerful back end, CRM, marketing, customer service, payment processing, and affiliate system, SkillOnNet’s omni-channel white label platform instantly provides you with all its white label licenses. These include Malta, Denmark, Sweden, UK, and the German region of Schleswig-Holstein.
Learn more about white label software solutions.
2 – Choose a platform that offers assistance in obtaining a license – These types of platform providers often provide turnkey and/or self-service (API) solutions and can help you with the licensing process and ensuring compliance. Examples of reputable providers of these services include:
Using Slotegrator as an example, it offers licenses for legal operation in various markets. This iGaming software company can help you obtain gambling licenses from Curacao, Malta, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Belize, Alderney and Kahnawake. It provides legal consultancy as well as administrative assistance for gambling license acquisition and regulatory compliance.
Learn more about Turnkey software solutions
Learn more about Self-Service (API) software solutions
Where is Online Gambling Legal? – The Bottom Line
Legal internet gambling is an immensely complex subject due to every nation having its own opinions, rules, and laws on the matter. While some parts of the world embrace online gambling, others do everything they can to ban the practice entirely. In addition to this, different jurisdictions within a single nation can sometimes take extremely different approaches to iGaming.
For this reason, if you are curious about a certain country or jurisdiction’s online gambling legality, it’s best to get in touch with the professionals who understand the iGaming industry, and who can help you obtain the necessary licenses and compliance in countries where online gambling is legal. You’ll find many of the betting and casino software platforms we review can be of assistance. Not sure where to start? The TCS team can help you get in touch with the ideal partner.