Online Gambling Regulations Around the World
The online gambling industry has grown from small and unknown to a rapidly rising powerhouse touching countries across the globe. While players worldwide fall in love with the same types of games, styles of promotions, and additional benefits, there are some things that vary from one region to the next, regulations on gambling.
In this article, we look at online gambling and gambling regulations across the globe. You’ll find a quick intro to gambling regulations and the different laws on online gaming in some of the most popular online gaming markets across the world. Keep reading for quick access to in-depth country guides and top-recommended online casinos based on your region.
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History of Gambling
It’s funny to think that what happens to be one of the biggest forms of entertainment today was once considered taboo and out of place. While there are still many areas where gambling is frowned upon, most regions have jumped on the gaming train.
Today you get to enjoy different forms of gaming entertainment across the globe in regions like Europe, the UK, Switzerland, Canada, Ireland, and more. Regions that permit gambling have strict regulations in place to ensure that players can enjoy a safe and regulated betting experience.
For gamblers, a new world of entertainment has been created, and it all started with simple card games in back rooms and a classic Bell slot machine.
The first known record of gambling ever made dates to 2300 B.C., with the first record of playing cards made in China back in 800 A.D. Then we find the first casino established in Italy in the 1600s. From the 1800s, gambling houses became a common occurrence in Europe and started appearing in the US.
The very first slot machine was created in 1850, and from 1930, gambling was legalized in various states. This led to the creation of the popular gaming hubs we know and love today, like Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
It was in the 2000s that online gambling turned into a multibillion-dollar industry, and with the invention of smartphones, a new era for mobile gaming started in 2010.
Different gambling regulations apply to different regions, including limitations, exclusions, and game contributions. For instance, in the UK, one of the most heavily regulated regions, there are many restrictions to increase player protection. This includes a ban on features like Autoplay or Turbo Play. Other regions have set limits on the minimum and maximum bet options to allow players to stay within their means.
Understanding Gambling Worldwide
When it comes to the world of gambling, you’ll find that there are often different types of markets and legalities we refer to in different regions. It’s important to know the differences between the different types of gambling markets so you have a basic idea of the region’s stance on gaming and what to expect in terms of legislation.
Knowing the different markets will also quickly give you the lowdown on whether a site should be played at or rather avoided.
Different types of market references:
When there is a monopoly in a region, this commonly refers to the gaming market being legal but closed off. Meaning that there are legal gaming options, but the choices are limited and run by state- or state-owned entities. In various regions where there is a monopoly on the gaming market, you’ll find that players often seek gaming entertainment elsewhere due to limited gaming options. Causing many authorities to change their thinking and open the market to foreign operators.
The illegal markets refer to markets that are operating without permission or licensing. Often you will find that foreign operators enter the market illegally in regions with strict, no gambling regulations or gaming monopolies. These operators do not have a license to operate in the region, but they do so anyway. Many players choose to play on these sites due to more game variety, fewer restrictions, and better promotional offers. The illegal markets may have more options, but they operate outside the safety net the legal sites have to offer. Accessing sites on illegal markets is done at your own risk.
Then there are the grey markets which some may confuse with illegal markets. The main difference between grey markets and illegal markets is that grey markets are semi-legal. They run in regions with no set laws stating that online gaming is legal or illegal. Players that access games or sites on the grey market do so at their own risk. The grey market sites can still be licensed and regulated within other regions and provide a safe betting experience. But there is no safety net within your dedicated region.
What are the Different Types of Online Gambling Regulations?
The online gambling regulations cover all online gambling entertainment. This means whenever you step your virtual foot into an online casino or sportsbook, the games and betting activity you take part in are subject to online gaming laws within the region in which you take part.
Every country has different internet gambling laws covering various games, casinos, and game provider activities. These gambling laws are there to protect both the operator and the players from harmful activity and oversight. Gambling regulations include licensing for gaming operators, licensing for game providers, licensing for sportsbook providers, and so much more.
Online gambling regulations consider everything from the legal gambling age to gambling advertisements, licensing of games and operators, to safer gambling schemes. Gaming authorities are put in charge of overseeing the industry and ensuring that operators always adhere to these regulations.
Where some regions allow for sports betting only, others are more open to all types of betting, giving residents access to sports betting, online casinos, live dealer games, poker, bingo, and lotteries. In the most tightly regulated regions, it’s important to keep licensing up to date to ensure operators abide by rules and provide players with a safe and secure experience.
Top Gambling Regulators
Legal gaming markets come with laws with which a gambling regulator is established. The gambling regulators oversee licensing, keeping close watch on the industry and ensuring things run smoothly and players get to enjoy a safe gaming experience.
There are different gaming regulators online, with some of the major gaming regulators you’ll come across being the UKGC and the MGA. We take a closer look at the top gambling regulators in the gambling industry:
United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC)
The UK Gambling Commission oversees regulating all online and land-based gambling activity within the UK. All land-based and online gambling is legal and requires licensing by the Gambling Commission.
The Commission was established alongside the UK Gambling Act of 2005. It received an upgrade of responsibility in 2014 with the passing of the Licensing and Advertising Bill. With the added Bill, there was a requirement for a Point-of-Consumption Tax focused on British Gaming Companies moving to regions like Gibraltar in an effort to avoid paying UK taxes. The POC Tax requires a set standard of 15% tax from operators no matter where they are based. With UK Gambling Commission licenses, companies can provide services to players across Britain and other parts of the globe.
Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)
The Malta Gaming Authority is another leading gaming authority in charge of licensing and regulation within the gaming industry. Back in April 2014, Malta published regulations to control gaming and gambling with the establishment of the Malta Gaming Authority. These regulations were replaced in August 2018 under the Gaming Act 2018.
Under the Malta law, those with a gambling license can cater to land-based and online players. They provide licensing for casino gaming, commercial tombola and communication games, remote gaming, lotteries, and sports betting.
Curacao Gaming Authority (CGA)
Curacao is one of the most well-known regulatory regions but has recently received a lot of bad light. As a result, the region has opted to strengthen its iGaming regulations, with which a new regulatory body, the Curacao Gaming Authority, has been established. The regulations and the new Curacao Gaming Authority are expected to come into effect in the summer of 2023.
With the new regulatory reform, Curacao is adamant about showing its dedication to integrity and player safety. The new regulatory reform has been accelerated to demonstrate the region’s commitment to combating any misconduct within the iGaming industry. There is a new LOK gaming license that will replace any other master and sub-license arrangements. Furthermore, there are new stronger gaming rules which focus specifically on Anti-money Laundering measures, fraud prevention, and player safety. The new regulations and gaming authority is set to change the image of the country as easy-going and return the gaming market’s reputation to one on par with other respectable regions.
Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (GRA)
The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority is the gaming authority responsible for licensing and regulation within Gibraltar. The gaming authority was established on October 12, 2000, under the Gibraltar Regulatory Act. The Act was later amended in February 2012 under the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Act 2013.
The GRA is the gaming authority responsible for licensing and regulation of gaming operators who apply for a gambling license in Gibraltar. And are focused on safeguarding players and their funds from unfair use.
The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority is considered one of the most highly reputable institutes across the globe and sets the standards for online and remote gambling brands.
Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ)
The Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau was re-formed in September 2003. The regulatory body forms the core of the gambling industry of Macau. It is there to provide assistance and guidance for both local and international operators. The gaming authority is not just there to guide operators but is also in charge of licensing and monitoring licensees to ensure they adhere to the regulations.
Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA)
The Swedish Gambling Authority is another respected authority that was established when the new Gambling Act was put into force in Sweden back in January 2019. The SGA is responsible for providing licenses to reputable gaming operators who pass the strict verification process. To provide gaming content to Swedish players, operators are required to have a Swedish license. Any gaming services without a license are strictly prohibited.
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is another well-known and respected gaming operator with years of industry experience. The regulatory body was established back in 1996 and stems from the aboriginal rights held by the Kahnawake jurisdiction regarding online gaming. The gaming authority oversees more than 50 licensed operators in over 250 sites across Canada. It is considered one of the biggest regulatory bodies overseeing online casinos, online sportsbooks, and poker rooms across North America.
Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC)
The AGCC was established back in May 2000 and serves as an independent body regulating online gambling in the state of Alderney. Its supervisory and regulatory approach aims to maintain the highest standards set for international gaming. The gaming authority oversees issuing and verifying licenses for trusted operators. They also have the responsibility of ensuring operators follow the strict laws in place.
Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)
The AGCO regulatory body oversees regulating all forms of gaming, horse racing, and alcohol sales in Ontario, Canada. The main goal is to protect users from problems and ensure a controlled enjoyment of gaming and alcohol. AGCO operates under the Gaming Control Act of 1992, the Horse Racing License Act of 2015, and the Liquor License Act.
Many different regulatory bodies run the online gaming market. However, it’s the impressive works and dedication of these gaming authorities have been known to create and set international gambling standards.
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Online Gambling Regulations and UK Online Casinos
The UK is one of the most respected and well-organised regions regarding land-based and online gambling regulations. It can be said that most forms of gambling activities are fully covered under UK online gaming laws.
Over the last few years, there have been a lot of changes and developments regarding the laws. And while the UK Gambling Commission has always been considered one of the most respected authorities, it recently experienced much criticism, with many believing it is going overboard and could potentially turn players and operators away from the regulated markets.
There is a heavier focus on safe gaming, with more pressure on operators to implement safety measures and restrictions, which could create a less entertaining experience. Over the last few years, the authority has continuously been making stricter changes, and there are concerns about it slightly going overboard at the current rate. For 2023 there are already more upcoming legislation changes, including the UK Gambling Whitepaper.
The good news is that online gambling is completely legal, and there are a variety of secure online casinos and sportsbooks to choose from, regulated under UK online gaming laws. Read all about UK online gaming regulations and online casinos here.
Online Gambling Regulations and US Online Casinos
United States gambling at casinos is heavily regulated, meaning all casinos and sportsbooks are subject to much oversight, rules, and regular audits. Casinos are required by law to protect their customers’ money and honour winning bets.
While gambling is legal under US federal law, there are significant restrictions pertaining to interstate and online gambling, as each state is free to regulate or prohibit the practice within its borders.
With the legalisation of sports betting in 2018 came the rise of the online betting market. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the most popular form of online gambling in the US, as of September 2021, is sports betting. The second most popular type of online gambling was the lottery draw.
Legal gambling ages vary across the United States, with states setting the age limit minimum at either 18 or 21. However, this can depend on the type of gambling and whether you’re playing at a Native American casino. The gambling laws in the US are always up for discussion as many aim to move the needle and provide more ways to play at both online and land-based casinos.
Swedish Online Casinos and Gambling Regulations
Where some regions had their online gambling regulations sorted and settled a long time ago, the Swedish online gaming laws are still being put in place to this day. For many years online gambling was under the full monopoly of state-owned companies.
This received a lot of criticism from the European Union, and after many unsuccessful attempts, the Swedish Gambling market became open to other operators in January 2019. The result was a swift end to the monopoly of Svenska Spel.
While the new and improved gaming market brings us to a new era of gaming for Sweden, there are heavy restrictions and Swedish internet gambling laws to consider. The Swedish Gambling Authority has taken a page from the books of the strictest gaming authorities in the world when compiling the rules and regulations for their operators in terms of licensing procedures.
2022 ended with some new refinements to the existing regulations, which included a range of harsh but effective restrictions. You can find out more about the latest regulatory changes and updates for Swedish online gaming laws in our in-depth guide on Swedish gambling regulations.
Online Gambling and Regulations at German Online Casinos
The German online gaming laws are still being ironed out as the online gambling regulations are some of the latest to be added to the country’s regulations. The good news is that Germans are about to enter the iGambling market for the first time with their own market; from the looks of it, it is already looking quite promising.
Germany’s new gambling regulator, the Gemeinsame Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL), started taking over its role of overseeing the industry and the gambling market at the start of 2023. The primary objective is to set up the correct structures and processes to ensure that German internet gambling laws are effective and that the gaming market runs smoothly.
About 50 gambling licenses have already been conditionally approved for online slot games and poker. From this list, only 25 providers have been added to the official whitelist, while others are on hold due to outstanding security deposits. The German online gaming laws are changing, and as a new online gaming market is opening, there are many procedures to follow, including inspecting all possible operators for illegal activity in the region.
Stay up to date with all the latest developments in the new German online gaming market here on TSC with our online gambling and regulations guide for German online casinos.
Online Gambling Regulations and Finnish Online Casinos
The Finnish online gaming laws are possibly about to change for the better as there is consideration of putting an end to the monopoly by state-owned operator Veikkaus Oy. And while there were no limits on gambling in Finland at the time, the gambling Monopoly prohibits gambling with any other operators. On top of that, there are plenty of product-specific state limits players must adhere to, including maximum stakes, RTP, and game speeds. For this reason, many players have started playing at foreign-operated sites, which quickly got shut down by the state.
On the other hand, one can say that this contributed to the current legal standing where authorities are considering a more welcoming approach to other operators. If Veikkaus is no longer the only gambling option, it could lead to a new licensing system and a range of new gambling opportunities for Finnish players in the next year or so.
Currently, investigations are being done to see if such a move would be better, considering the majority of players prefer playing with foreign-operated sites. New Finnish online gaming laws will give the government control, and access to revenue as any spending at such sites currently is out of their reach. From a revenue perspective, it might be time for a change that is long overdue.
Keep up to date with all the new updates and changes in the internet gambling laws in Finland with our quick guides and latest news articles.
Dutch Online Casinos and Gambling Regulations
Some regions jump at the chance to get into the regulated online gaming scene, while others drag their feet with the process. When it comes to Netherlands online gaming laws, there’s been nothing easy about getting to today, where online gambling regulations are finally in place.
While it seemed the logical step for the Netherlands’ online gaming laws to join Europe’s most lucrative gambling industry over a decade ago, it was only in April 2021 that the Dutch Remote Gambling Act (KOA) was finally passed. The industry has come a long way, and there is expected to be some more upset this year with plans on heavy advertisement bans and other restrictions.
The Netherlands gaming market has been online for two years, but it has already seen an impressive uptake with the Dutch national regulator De Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) at the helm. The authority runs a tight ship, ensuring that regulated operators adhere to Dutch internet gambling laws and foreign sites are kept out of business within the region.
As an online casino player, you can enjoy the best quality games under the protection of Netherlands online gaming laws. For more information on Dutch online casinos and gambling regulations, read the full gaming guide here on TSC.
Online Gambling and Regulations at French Online Casinos
France is a country where you can enjoy legal betting on various forms of online betting, including online poker, sports betting, and horse racing. The French internet gambling laws are overseen by the country’s regulator, l’Autorite Nationale des Jeux (ANJ).
Despite the regulated markets and the French online gaming laws, there is a huge problem in the region with unregulated online casino games. And as such, the ANJ has been given the power to block unregulated sites providing betting entertainment to locals within the region. Others believe these betting venues and games should be capitalised on, similar to the way that has been done with sports betting.
One of the primary concerns in France is possible problem gambling, keeping children safe, and steering clear from potential money laundering scams. This could be one of the main reasons the industry is not yet as fully developed as it has the potential to be within the region.
Many of the legalities within the French gaming market are focused on unregulated gaming activities, bonuses and promotions, and advertisements. Many things can, directly and indirectly, impact players and French citizens. For all the latest news and developments regarding French online gambling regulations, be sure to read our online gambling and regulations guide for French online casinos here.
Online Gambling Regulations and Spanish Online Casinos
The Internet gambling laws in Spain have been shaken and stirred quite a bit recently, with the Spanish Senate giving the green light for a bill that will bring several changes to the industry. The bill’s primary objective is to change how gaming operators approach responsible gaming. The belief is that the approved reform of the Spanish online gaming laws will improve user protections and make gambling a more difficult activity for minors and those who already have gambling problems.
Big changes are coming, including a ban on certain promotional offers and bonuses. This extends to the lottery industry, where age verification procedures are expected to be put in place. Lottery sites will also have to carry an official seal to show legitimacy.
New regulatory changes in the Spanish online gaming laws aim to improve players’ safeguarding, especially the young and vulnerable. The DGOJ regulates the online gaming industry, and there are many top-rated online gaming sites where you can find top gaming entertainment within the industry. The Spanish laws are quite strict for unlicensed sites, and heavy fines are imposed once the DGOJ has caught on to operators.
For more information on the current and changing online gambling regulations, as well as quick access to the best Spanish online casinos, be sure to check out our guide here.
New Zealand Online Casinos and Gambling Regulations
New Zealand’s online gambling regulations are primarily dominated by the Gambling Act of 2003. While many regions find rules to be scattered and confusing, NZ online gaming laws are refreshingly straightforward.
The Act was implemented to control the growth of gambling in the region while preventing and minimising potential gaming harm. Online casinos have been illegal in New Zealand for many years until 2020, when the government passed legislation allowing certain forms of online gaming.
The law now allows licensed operators to offer real money games, which include slots, table games, and video poker, via their websites or mobile sites. Another big win was legalising horse race betting, and lottery draws in 2021.
To participate in any form of legal betting activity, you must be 18 years or older. All online gambling sites that fall under the internet gambling laws in New Zealand are subject to regular audits by the Gambling Commission to ensure they comply with the laws.
Much had changed in NZ since the days when online gambling was a blocked-out betting option. Today you have access to various legal betting options, including the best slots, table games, live dealer options, and sports betting opportunities. Read all there is to know about New Zealand online casinos and gambling regulations in this guide.
Online Gambling and Regulations at Canadian Online Casinos
Canada is one of those regions with a rather long and interesting history of gambling, where all forms of illegal gambling have been linked to organised crime. While other regions have been tight-strung on online gambling regulations, Internet gambling laws in Canada have been adjusted for the common good of the people.
The Canadian online gaming laws, much like any other gaming laws in this region, are easily adjusted for the purpose of the Canadian people. As a rule of thumb, any form of gambling in Canada is considered illegal if it is not licensed or managed by the federal or provincial government.
While online gaming has been known to fall into a grey area, it has recently become a focal point for governments in Canadian regions like Ontario. While land-based gambling has been regulated quite properly over the past few years, the Canadian online gaming market has just recently opened its virtual doors.
Online gaming in Ontario is licensed and regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. In most regions of Canada, any form of gaming requires you to be a legal gaming age of 18 or 19 years or older.
You can read more on Canada’s current internet gambling laws in our in-depth guide to find out all there is to know about the legalities of online casinos, sports betting, and more.
Online Gambling Regulations and Australian Online Casinos
Australia used to be one of the more welcome states regarding online gambling regulations. Today, the Australian online gaming laws look quite different, and there is an overall federal law covering gambling and separate state gaming regulations.
The Australian internet gambling laws are covered by the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, which essentially governs all gambling in Australia. This Act also provides regulations for licensing and online gambling activity in Australia, and it clearly excludes the lottery service.
Land-based gambling is heavily popular in this region. You will find that slot games, or rather pokies as they are known here, can be found nearly everywhere, from casinos to retail shops. Australians love their pokies, table games, and other fun games. This makes it no surprise that you’ll find such a wide variety of different style slots and games here.
While gambling legislation varies in every state, the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 states that it is illegal for online casinos to offer certain gambling services to Aussie residents. Some options that are allowed include lottery games and sports betting. In our in-depth guide, you can read more about the online gaming laws and regulations for Australian online casinos and players.
🔎 Where to find the best online casinos in my country?
Here at TopSpotCasinos, we do an in-depth review of all the gambling legislations for every region to give you an overview of what you can expect in terms of legalities; from there, we also take you through games, promotions, and the top casinos available. Click on our list of top casino sites or any of the regions discussed above for deeper insight and quick access to the recommended casinos.
🌐 Can you gamble using a VPN?
While attempts to access online casino sites using a VPN are made, this is only suggested if the casino is licensed and regulated within your region. Geo-blocking is in place for good reason, and regulated sites provide the best protection.
🌍 What countries gamble the most?
Gambling is a popular pastime in many regions, including most of Europe and the UK. Some regions where the highest percentage of the population participates in gambling include Finland, Australia, Ireland, and the UK.
🌱 In which region do players lose the most on gambling?
Losing is part of the equation when it comes to playing casino games, whether you play in land-based or online casinos. However, Australia has easily become the region with the highest gambling losses.
🚺 Which gender gambles the most?
Research has shown that men are likelier to gamble and develop a gambling addiction than women. Reasons include their love for sports and highly competitive rates.
🇪🇺 Which country gambles the most in Europe?
Europe is known for its love of gambling, but while many regions have a passion for gaming Germany is considered the largest market in the region. It has over 80 million inhabitants and a wide range of different games available.
🏰 Is online gambling legal in Europe?
Today, online gambling is legal in Europe as well as in a variety of Canadian provinces and the United States.
🇳🇱 Is gambling allowed in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands finally legalised online gambling back in 2021 by implementing the Remote Gambling Act. It now has a flourishing online gaming market with tight Dutch gaming regulations.
🏦 Can a bank freeze your account for online gaming transactions?
This depends on the region and the regulations. In some regions, there are instructions to block certain types of transactions, but in general, your account won’t be frozen.
💰 Do I pay tax on my gambling winnings?
This will be determined by the gambling regulations in your region. In most regions, you will have to report all winnings but won’t necessarily pay tax unless it’s a massive win. Check your country’s regulations guide for more information.