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The laws surrounding online gambling vary dramatically around the world. Some governments have made the smart move to regulate their country’s online gambling industry in order to reap the economic benefits, while others have banned online gambling entirely. Whatever the laws, they are often hard to govern as online activity is difficult to monitor, especially with a recreational activity as widespread as casino gaming. Read on to find out more about the online gambling laws in different countries and find out where it is safe for players from your region to play slot games for real money online.
What is an offshore casino and are they legal?
In the information below, you will find frequent referral to the term “offshore casino.” An offshore casino is one that is licensed on foreign soil, operating under the laws of its jurisdiction. The common misconception is that offshore casinos are free to operate outside of the law and play by their own rules, but this is completely untrue. There are many offshore casinos that are licensed by the world’s best gambling jurisdictions, which must run in accordance with strict rules and regulations set by leading gambling authorities. Reputable offshore casinos work hard to protect players, ensure games are fair and that all gambling activity is free from crime.
As many counties do not allow online gambling, often players have no choice but to turn to an offshore casino site. As long as the offshore casino is licensed by an upstanding gambling jurisdiction (with the best ones being Malta, the United Kingdom, Gibraltar, Alderney, Curacao, Isle of Man and Kahnawake) it is legal to play at these sites provided the laws of your country do not prosecute players for doing so.
You can find out more about the online gambling laws in your country below.
Online gambling laws in Australia
Online gambling in Australia is governed by the laws set by the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) 2001. While the IGA initially had wording that was full of loopholes allowing Aussies to gamble online, amendments made in March 2017 clarified that online gambling would no longer be tolerated unless the casino had official licensing from a state or territory within Australia. As Australia does not issue online casino licenses, the IGA amendments technically mean Australians are now banned from accessing offshore casino sites. However, as there is nothing in the IGA to punish players from gambling online and many of the world’s best offshore casinos continue to service the Australian market, Aussies can continue to play slots online without legal recourse. Find out more about Australia’s online gambling laws here.
Online gambling laws in Fiji
Gambling in Fiji is regulated under the laws of the Gambling Act 2009, which allows remote gambling but only via telephone, radio and television and does not extend to allow gambling via the Internet. Fiji is one of the few countries that has laws in place to punish players who are found gambling online, with The Gaming Decree stating “Any person who engages in unlicensed remote interactive gaming as a player shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of $5,000 and imprisonment for two years.” These laws are poorly enforced, so many offshore casinos continue to offer gambling services to the Fijian market. Find out more about Fiji’s online gambling laws here.
Online gambling laws in France
France has clear laws in place regarding online gambling, with the French Gambling Act (law number 2010-476) introduced in 2010 to regulate the country’s online gambling laws to allow online sports betting, poker and horse racing. The Regulatory Authority for Online Games (ARJEL) was created to issue and regulate online gambling licenses in France, with ARJEL continuing to ban online casino games like the slots and roulette as they are deemed too addictive. Many offshore casino operators restrict their services to French players to steer clear of the French gambling laws entirely, buy there are still several top-rated international casinos servicing the French market. Find out more about France’s gambling laws here.
Online gambling laws in Germany
In 2008, the Interstate Treaty on Gambling (ISTG) was passed in Germany, which made it illegal for German operators to run a betting site within the country’s borders. The ISTG essentially meant all forms of online gambling except horse racing and sports betting by state-owned gambling bodies were outlawed, until 2012 when the German state of Schleswig-Holstein opted out of the ISTG and granted licenses to several online gambling sites, which only cater to players within the state. While playing at an online casino is technically illegal for most Germans, there are no laws in place to punish German players from accessing offshore casino sites, so many international vendors continue to welcome the German market. Find out more about Germany’s online gambling laws here.
Online gambling laws in Ireland
Until recently, all forms of gambling in Ireland were governed by the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956, which was outdated and made no mention of the Internet. To keep up with the thriving online gambling industry (where Irish punters were wagering close to €5 billion annually) the Act was updated with the introduction of the Gambling (Amendment) Act 2015. Under the new regulations, online gambling providers are legally allowed to service the Irish market, provided they have been granted an approved license by the Minister and Office for Gambling Control Ireland. This means it is perfectly legal for Irish players to play slot games online, provided the casino has a license from the Irish government. If an online casino services the Irish market without a license, it is the operator who will face penalties, not the player, so technically you can play at any slot site you like without any legal consequences. Find out more about Ireland’s online gambling laws here.
Online gambling laws in Mexico
Like many countries, Mexico’s online gambling laws present many grey areas. The country has issued some online casino licenses, but these were granted to service foreign players only, with operators banned from servicing the Mexican market. While President of the Mexican Gaming Association (AIEJA), Miguel Angel Ochoa Sanchez has been campaigning for years to regulate the online gambling market, there are no laws in place that prohibit Mexican players from accessing offshore casino sites. with hundreds of online gambling sites now catering to the Mexican market, players have a wide range of reputable online venues to choose from. Find out more about Mexico’s online gambling laws here.
Online gambling laws in the Netherlands
Online gambling is legal in the Netherlands, provided the online casino has been issued with a license by the Netherlands government. The catch is, there are no online casinos licensed in the Netherlands, although this is set to change in 2017 when new laws are expected to come into effect to allow the issuing of Netherlands licenses to online operators. Until then, Dutch players can continue to play without legal consequence at any offshore casino sites that’s licensed by a reputable gambling jurisdiction. Find out more about Netherland’s online gambling laws here.
Online gambling laws in New Caledonia
As a French territory, New Caledonia is subject to the same online gambling laws as France, where online gambling is licensed and legal but only for sports betting, horse racing and poker. Online gambling licenses are issued and regulated by Autorité de Régulation des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL) which is an independent administrative authority created specifically to regulate the online gambling industry in France and its territories. France does not issue online gambling licenses to casino vendors, but there is nothing in the laws to prevent players from accessing international casino sites, so many players turn to offshore casinos to access real money slot game. Find out more about New Caledonia’s gambling laws here.
Online gambling laws in New Zealand
Online gambling in New Zealand is governed by the laws set by the Gambling Act 2003, which prevents New Zealand businesses from offering or advertising gambling services to Kiwi players. Any online casino vendor advertising services to NZ players can face fines of up to NZD $5,000. While Kiwis cannot play at any casino site run from New Zealand, the Gambling Act presents many loopholes, with nothing in the legislation to prevent New Zealanders from playing at offshore casino sites. Find out more about the offshore casinos catering to the New Zealand market here.
Online gambling laws in Norway
Online gambling and most other forms of land based gambling are illegal in Norway, with the country taking a strong anti-gambling stance to prevent harm caused by gambling addiction. The only legal forms of gambling are the state-run Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto. In a bid to curb online gambling, Norway introduced the Payment Act in 2010 which prevents banks and other financial services from conducting business with offshore gambling sites. However, it is the banking companies themselves that face prosecution, not the players, and with laws loosely enforced, the online gambling industry continues to thrive in Norway with players turning to offshore casinos despite the bans. Find out more about Norway’s online gambling laws here.
Online gambling laws in Papua New Guinea
Prior to the introduction of the Gaming Control Bill 2007, all forms of gambling were illegal in Papua New Guinea, but the laws now allow both land based and online gambling. For years the PNG government has been considering issuing online casino licenses to offshore vendors in a bid to boost the country’s economy, but to date there are no online casinos licensed within Papua New Guinea. With a low Internet penetration rate, online gambling is not a hot topic in PNG, so many offshore casinos continue to welcome players from this country. Find out more about Papua New Guinea’s gambling laws here.
Online gambling laws in the Philippines
While the Philippines are a hot spot for land based casinos, online gambling is a hot topic, with many calling for tighter Internet regulations for what is often seen as a corrupt industry. Independent operators in the Philippines are forbidden from offering online gambling services to Filipino citizens, but a 2012 court ruling decided there was nothing in Filipino legislation that made it an offence to place bets online, so for now players can safely play at offshore casinos. Read more about online gambling laws in the Philippines here.
Online gambling laws in Russia
Online gambling has been banned in Russia since 2006, with the country going to lengthy proportions to restrict players from accessing offshore casino sites. In an attempt to stop Russians gambling at offshore casinos, the government created a blacklist of websites that all Internet service providers (ISPs) are required to block, which is closely monitored and updated regularly. Small fines are imposed for players found gambling at these sites, although very little is done to enforce these laws and players are rarely punished. Although offshore sites are difficult to access from Russia, many will continue to accept Russian players if they can find ways around the restrictions. Find out more about Russia’s online gambling laws here.
Online gambling laws in Tonga
Tonga is unique in that it is one of the few counties that seems to have little to no laws in place regarding gambling, both online and offline, with attitudes towards gambling governed more by religious beliefs. While no online casinos are licensed to operate from within Tonga, there are no laws in place to prevent Tongans from playing at any offshore casino site. Find out more about Tonga’s gambling laws here.
Online gambling laws in the Ukraine
Ukraine’s gambling laws have been heavily influenced by a fatal fire that broke out in a casino in 2009, leading to the approval of a new law, the Prohibition of Gambling Business in Ukraine which prohibits all forms of gambling, both online and offline. When the laws were first implemented, several loopholes allowed Ukrainian online casino vendors to move their operations to foreign ground and continue to service the Ukrainian market from abroad. The laws have since been rectified to clarify all forms of online gambling are prohibited in the Ukraine, although online gambling at offshore casino sites remains hugely popular amongst Ukrainian players as no forms of punishment exist. Find out more about the Ukrainian online gambling laws here.
Online gambling laws in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is one of the only areas in the world which has suitably updated its laws to reflect the changing gaming climate brought on by the Internet. While many countries have struggled to ban online gambling completely, leaving players to take their business to offshore venues, UK laws now stipulate that UK residents are free to gamble online, provided they are over 18 and do so at a legally licensed and legitimate online venue. The highly esteemed UK Gambling Commission has been created to govern and regulate the online gambling industry, issuing and revoking licenses as stipulated by the wording of the Gambling Act 2015. Find out more about the UK gambling laws here.
Online gambling laws in the United States
The United States has very strict laws in place when it comes to online gambling, and is one of the few countries to make it clear online gambling is completely outlawed. In 2006, the House of Representatives and Senate passed the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) which made it illegal for American banks or financial institutions to process any financial transactions to an online gambling site, essentially causing a majority of all online casinos to withdraw from the American market. In recent years, some US states have passed new laws to allow online gambling within state borders, but these laws are very specific and limited. Find out more about the USA gambling laws here.
Using a VPN for online gambling
As you can see from the above information, the laws regarding online gambling vary dramatically from country to country, but most players can still access offshore casinos with very little to no chance of punishment. In order to get around region-restrictions and to benefit from an extra layer of security, many online players choose to use the services of a trusted VPN (virtual private network). A VPN masks your IP address to scramble data sent between your device and the Internet, which means your personal information cannot be intercepted and you can access parts of the Internet that would otherwise be blocked to you due to your location. VPN services are legal and are becoming very popular with online gamblers.