Is Gambling in Online Casinos Legal?


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Some refer to it as igaming (igames) or simply gaming, but I think gambling is the right term for playing on an online casino or betting platform. I’d reserve the term gaming for video games and esports and not mix that up with gambling. Sure, gambling can be fun. It can also be addictive. You can win a fortune or lose everything you got, but today we want to check if gambling in online casinos is even legal or not.

Like most good questions, this is not easily explained in one sentence. I’d say it depends. It depends on where you are in the world. It depends on where the online casino is located. It depends on whether or not you are gambling with real money or just virtual tokens. It depends on many things. Most regions that would outlaw physical casinos will also outlaw virtual casinos that you can use online or on apps. This means that you can’t just evade the law by going online.

Distribution of online gambling revenues in Europe in 2019, by betting activity
Distribution of revenue split into sports betting, casino, lottery, poker, bingo, and others (Image: Statista)

What is gambling?

The terms gambling and betting are mostly synonymous, and they are the term for the act of wagering something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome and hoping to make a profit. It requires three key elements to come together.

  • Consideration
  • Risk
  • Prize

The event of an uncertain outcome could be pretty much anything that cannot be foretold with a guarantee. This could be, for instance, the roll of some dice, the outcome of a sports match, a horse race, or the outcome of doing slots in a casino. The vast majority of sports betting applications for Android and iOS offer the same services, which means you need to have a lot of iGaming experience to spot the differences. Some would even consider loot boxes from some video games to be gambling.

You put some money in the slots machine, pull the lever, the machine runs, and while you know it will end with a random pattern in the front, you don’t know how it will look, but you’re betting it will be something winning that will reward you with more money for the winning than what you put into the machine. Some legislations also consider lottery to be gambling or betting because of this definition. It’s also worth noting that neither online gambling nor online sports better necessarily have anything to do with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

Where is online gambling legal?

The legal status of online casinos and online gambling varies a lot depending on what location you are based in and what location the casino you wish to play at is legally located. There are some states in the US where online gambling is legal, some provinces in Canada, many countries in the EU, and a couple of states in the Caribbean. This is also important for the question in what countries those may run advertisement campaigns in.

Based on a report of The Sports Daily and a bit of additional research we found out that the following countries allow online gambling:

  • Algeria (partially)
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada (partially)
  • Cape Verde (partially)
  • China (partially)
  • Costa Rica
  • Denmark
  • El Salvador
  • France
  • Germany (partially)
  • Gibraltar
  • Honduras
  • Hungry
  • India (partially)
  • Italy
    Ivory Coast (partially)
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico (partially)
  • Morocco (partially)
  • Netherland
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Russia (partially)
  • Singapore (partially)
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand (partially)
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • UK
  • USA (partially)

This list is just for your information and does not mean it is complete. Laws can always change around the globe, so it would be wise for you to regularly check the legal status of online gambling and casinos in your region if you’re playing or betting online. One critical aspect to consider is if and how the casino platform pays money to the players and how the payments actually work.

Using VPN for legal bypass?

Some might try to evade bans that are based on their geographic position and other restrictions like that with the use of VPN or by creating a user account with a fake address service. However, even managing to get access to play does not mean you can win. If you manage to bypass these rules somehow, you’re still breaking the law, and it’s possible that the casino platform will not pay out the won money if they somehow find out that you are not accessing the service from a legal region. You might also get fined or face other penalties. If you’re more of a person for video, you can also check out the video below for more information from Online United States Casinos.

It’s all fun and games until it’s not. If you feel you might be addicted to gambling and need help, please refer to these international problem gambling help contacts as listed by the NCPG. There is no shame in admitting that you have a problem and looking for help.

YouTube: Regulated Vs. Offshore Online Casinos – Are Online Casinos Legal?

Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Jezael Melgoza. The infographic in the body has been done by Statista.
Source: Brad Gustavsen (Sports Daily) / Statista

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Christopher Isak
Christopher Isak
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. ;)
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