There are few things that divide countries quite as much as the status of gambling in their nations. Some countries allow punters to gamble legally but have strong regulations to make sure that everything is above board, while others ban all forms of gambling outright, whether online or in brick-and-mortar premises. Of course, there are also many countries that take a stance somewhere in between these two extremes.

For example, they will make land-based casinos legal, but declare online casinos illegal. With so many discrepancies, it can be difficult to know where people can gamble legally, and where they could get into serious trouble for placing a wager. If you are wondering if you can place a bet in a real-world casino where you live, or, alternatively, are you asking, “is online gambling illegal in my country?” read on and find out more.

Countries Where Gambling Is Illegal

legal-gambling-map Most European countries have a very tolerant attitude towards gambling, with all types of gambling, both virtual and physical, being legal and well-regulated across much of the continent. The most notable exceptions are Iceland and France, where online casinos are banned. Land-based ones, however, are legal. Other countries, such as Ukraine, Switzerland, Russia, Poland, and the Czech Republic, have technically banned online gambling. However, gambling on foreign sites is largely overlooked. Turkey, on the other hand, takes a much more negative stance, primarily for religious reasons, since it is a Muslim country and gambling is considered to be Haram, forbidden by Islamic law.

When it comes to the Americas, Mexico and California have legalized all types of gambling. But, gambling in the United States is more problematic since each state has a different rule. While Nevada is clearly fine with all forms of gambling, the story is very different in other states. Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, New York, and Illinois all allow online gambling. On the other hand, if you gamble on the island of Cuba, you could get in a lot of trouble. In the Americas, the areas that have banned gambling have done so primarily to help protect the population from the dangers of addiction.

The Middle East and Asia, however, have many countries that are firmly against gambling. Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Qatar, and Brunei have all made gambling illegal. Dubai is the exception to this rule. Why is gambling illegal in much of this region? Well, the answer is primarily for religious reasons. Gambling for money is expressly forbidden in the Quran. Singapore and India have outlawed all forms of gambling.

The laws in Asia vary widely from country to country. For example, in Taiwan, only sports betting (either in person or online) is permitted. In Vietnam, foreigners can play in brick-and-mortar casinos, but locals are forbidden. In China, only physical sports betting is legal, but citizens can simply head to Macau and gamble there. In South Korea and Malaysia where gambling is technically permitted, there are limited routes available and very few licensed casinos and sites that will admit players from these nations.

How to Get Around Gambling Laws

If you live somewhere where gambling is outlawed, but still fancy placing a wager, there are a few ways you can do it.

Online Gambling

Although several countries have technically banned online gambling, their citizens still take the risk of registering as players at overseas-based casinos. Usually, governments turn a blind eye to this kind of betting activity, so as long as the casino is prepared to accept players from that country, this is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to place a wager.

Find A Legal Casino Closer to Home

For those who live in states where gambling is prohibited, there are sometimes Native American casinos or casino ships that sail in international waters to cater to the needs of keen gamblers who are restricted by the law.

Find A Form of Gambling That Is Legal in Your Area


Although some forms of gambling may be banned where you live, there may be other forms that are acceptable. For example, casinos in all their forms may be outlawed, however betting on horse racing or greyhound racing may be acceptable. You will need to research the laws in your state or country to find out which forms of betting will not get you into trouble.

Gambling on Fantasy Sports

In the states where gambling is illegal, one way to get a betting fix is to go online to one of the fantasy sports websites. The wagering is completely legal because fantasy sports are recognized as a “game of skill.”

Betting Among Friends

In some countries, betting privately in friends’ homes is common practice, even when it is illegal. While it may be against the law, punters are unlikely to be prosecuted for participating in this type of activity.

Social or Charitable Betting

charity-casinoIn many places, social bets are permitted. This means that small groups of people can get together on an occasional basis to bet on card games or to make a spur-of-the-moment wager on a sporting event. However, if these get-together take place too regularly, they could be construed as being illegal gambling activity, so it’s important to take care. In some states, activities that are for a charitable purpose but that could be construed as gambling are entirely legal. In some areas, lotteries and bingo are acceptable gambling formats that can be enjoyed legally by those who are desperate for a flutter.

Crossing the Border

If you live close enough to a state line and the next state happens to have legalized gambling – for example, California and Nevada — you can simply hop over to the next state and place your wagers there. If you don’t live close enough to do this regularly, you could make your visit a short break, or simply make gambling the sole purpose of your next vacation, and choose a destination that has made wagering legal.

Illegal Gambling Rings

illegal-gambling-moneyWhile everyone knows that gambling rings are illegal, they are still quite prevalent if you know where to look. Sometimes they may be in private homes; at other times, they are simply in any other enclosed space that looks as subtle as possible. A gambling ring needs a head bookmaker, a site operations manager, and someone to handle the bets, debts, and financial transactions. Illegal gambling rings require sufficient finance to cover their customers’ bets and are often set up behind a facade of a legitimate company. Bets can be placed by those in the know through a number of methods, either through websites with secret logins or over the telephone. Of course, it goes without saying that an illegal gambling ring can be a dodgy way of placing wagers since by their nature they remain unregulated and there is no guarantee of getting your winnings. Because they are also a target for police, any transactions with these types of organizations can leave you open to conviction.

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Richard Holmes was born in Tampa, Florida and studied computer science at Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola Florida. A devout Baptist, volunteer Sunday School teacher and online gaming fan, Richard works as a part-time systems administrator at Baptist Hospital and part-time professional blogger specializing in statistics, probability and computer science issues. He is an ardent believer in the future of artificial intelligence as a tool for transforming human society for the better, particularly in the area of health care and modern medicine. A chess player, and competitive online gamer Richard actively participates on online gaming tournaments in his free time.