The global state of online gambling regulation

The state of online gambling regulation around the world
Online gambling is becoming more and more popular, but how are governments regulating this lucrative industry? Photo: Rawf8, Bigstock

Online gambling has undoubtedly proven it is an incredibly profitable and popular part of the casino industry and it is one of the fastest growing market sectors in the world. It’s definitely true that people enjoy the thrill of casino gambling from the comfort of their homes and they are eager to browse the latest games, special online offers and free spin bonuses.

Despite the success of the concept, not all legal jurisdictions around the world share the same views on online gambling. The practise of gambling alone has been a taboo subject in many countries for a long time and many people choose to gamble illegally if they cannot find a legal means of doing so.

The people who choose to play online via illegal means are taking the risk of either be scammed by an unscrupulous service or being prosecuted by authorities. Either way, it’s clear the regulations on online gambling vary greatly around the world depending on cultural attitudes towards the industry.

For these reasons it’s good for habitual gamblers to be aware of the different gambling regulations around the world. Let’s take a look at how different nations have regulated online gambling.

United States

First off let’s take a look at one of the wealthiest nations in the world and the most culturally ambiguous when it comes to gambling regulation. In America, powerful gambling moguls who run physical casino locations are strongly against the growth of online gambling and this explains the slower rate of growth in the United States.

In December 2011 fantasy sports betting, real cash casino games and online poker were removed from the Wire Act. The Wire Act was the go-to document that explained why online gambling was illegal in the United States and this change means it is up to the states to decide their individual laws.

Unsurprisingly, the first few jurisdictions to legalise online gambling were New Jersey and Delaware with both being accompanied by Nevada, the home state of iconic gambling city Las Vegas. It was not long before the US market was explored by large online gambling websites and it is likely more states will embrace the industry as societal stigmas dissipate.

Australia

The state of online gambling regulation around the world
Australia’s laws on online gambling have a loophole that means Aussies don’t need to miss out. Photo: Antonio Guillem, Bigstock

Travelling to the other end of the world, Australia has its own interesting laws when it comes to remote gaming. In 2001 the government pushed the Interactive Gambling Act which prohibited online gaming being offered to Australians.

Despite this law, there is a legal loophole that says playing at online gambling destinations is not an offence; so many people simply ignore the Interactive Gambling Act. While online casino games and online poker are considered illegal, online sports betting is completely legalised and routinely enabled by the Australian government.

Europe

Online gambling is very popular and widely embraced by European countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain to name a few with busy online markets. The United Kingdom is definitely one of the biggest markets for online gambling with a huge range of well-established providers and a big pool of customers.

While Europe does offer far more freedom when it comes to accepted forms of online gambling, many jurisdictions require operators to obtain gaming licences first. The United Kingdom, Sweden, Netherlands and Denmark all issue remote gaming licenses which allow operators to serve customers in their territory.

Spain also allows these kinds of gambling and operators can request a 10-year long license that allows them to service Spanish people. In Germany, online gaming services were a legal grey area and were at one point banned before specific types were re-allowed.

Internet gambling blew up in Germany when the Schleswig-Holstein state started creating more liberal laws to regulate the market and was able to grant a great deal of licenses to prospective operators.

Other countries

The state of online gambling regulation around the world
Despite the growing acceptance of online gambling, some nations are still strictly against it for fears of creating gambling addicts. Photo: AAW, Bigstock

When it comes to nations that aren’t as open minded when it comes to online gambling, Russia, China and Turkey come up as prime examples. In Turkey, there is a single outlet whereby online gambling can be done legally in the whole country.

For Chinese people all forms of internet gaming are illegal but they routinely bypass these regulations by going to internationally hosted websites. As of 2006 all forms of online gambling or any gambling that use telecommunications hardware was entirely outlawed in China.

Why the controversy?

Gambling has been part of human culture ever since people had valuable things to trade and has developed through the use of economics, technology and mathematics. Nowadays gambling is an incredibly lucrative industry that pulls in enormous amount of cash from people losing bets.

Gambling was already a controversial activity before it could be done conveniently from a computer or smartphone. With access to gambling services now in people’s pockets via their phones, critics of the industry argue that it is more likely people can develop gambling addictions.

What’s next for the industry?

Ultimately it seems that regulations surrounding online gambling are taking a common sense approach that enables consenting adults to participate in a fun activity without needing to travel to a casino. The rise of no deposit online casinos has made participating in online gambling less daunting for those trying it out for the first time.

It’s certainly true that the regulation of online gambling around the world depends very much on pre-existing cultural acceptance or lack thereof. The nations that are most cautious of the practise are going to take longer to warm up to this immense and continually growing industry.