The two biggest points about gambling when it comes to legislation are that it is a hugely profitable industry, and that the risks posed by problem gambling behaviour are real. Governmental regulators are therefore constantly trying to find a balance between reaping the benefits of a good source of tax, and protecting the citizens who are gambling. These 10 countries have outlawed gambling in one way or another, and those who break the laws may face stiff penalties in some cases.
United Arab Emirates
Almost all Islamic countries prohibit gambling of every kind, but many turn a blind eye to online gambling or simply do not have regulations in place for this grey area. In the United Arab Emirates, however, any kind of gambling is prosecuted and players can serve up to two years in jail under the Penal Code’s Article 414. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority controls all Internet content and thus prevents access to online casinos.
Another Islamic country with strict anti-gambling laws, Brunei enforces its Common Gaming House Act strongly. This strictly prohibits any form of gambling in the country.
Gambling addiction has historically been an issue for Cambodia, and is now banned among its citizens in all formats. Government-sponsored gaming including 5 separately run private lotteries is permitted. The 1996 Suppression of Gambling Act that enforces this does not, however, apply to any foreigners in the country. Several casinos cater to tourists and generate significant revenue.
Like Cambodia, North Korea strictly forbids online and offline gambling amongst its own citizens but allows tourists to participate in these activities if they are on guided tours. There is currently only one casino in the country, located in Pyongyang.
All forms of gambling were prohibited in Japan until quite recently, although there were several loopholes that meant certain activities did take place. Pachinko, for example, was not classified as a crime because of cultural and historical significance.
Several racetracks are overseen either by the government or the Japan Racing Association, and there are many legal Off-Track Betting Facilities for punters who can’t get to the racing grounds. Other sports betting activities are also permitted, and the Integrated Resort Programme Law of 2016 has allowed for land-based casino games for the first time.
Online gambling remains strictly illegal in Japan, but casinos can now open in resorts as long as the facilities include entertainment venues, an international conference hall and a hotel. Operators themselves are subject to very strict screening, and the entire process of legalising land-based casino gambling in Japan is expected to be completed during 2018’s Diet session.
The Private Lotteries Act prohibits private events unless permission is granted, while public lotteries are regulated by the Common Gaming Houses Act. This Act prohibits all public lotteries, Bingo, terminal-based gaming and other machine-based games unless special exemptions are granted, curtailing public lotteries and all games very effectively. Land-based sports betting in Singapore is illegal, but the Betting Act grants exceptions to the main gambling operators (Singapore Pools, Singapore Totalisator Board and Singapore Turf Club).
The system of controlling gambling by prohibiting it except in special circumstances extends to public casinos, of which there are only two. Japan’s new gaming model has taken a lot of its cues from Singapore, with high minimum betting requirements aimed at limiting the amount that people usually spend on gambling. These generate considerable revenue and are regulated under the Casino Control Act.
Under Singapore’s Remote Gambling Act, all forms of online gambling are illegal unless exemption is granted. Singapore Turf Club and Singapore Pools were granted exemption in 2016, meaning remote sportsbetting can be conducted through them.
The 2012 Betting Law governs most Cypriot gambling. Slot and other terminal-based gaming is permitted, up to a maximum of 50 machines, but under 2015’s Casino Law land-based table games are allowed at the single casino, the Melco Cyprus Resort, whose completion is expected in 2019. Sportsbetting is the only form of gambling allowed online.
Qatar is the strictest country of all when it comes to gambling laws. All forms of gambling activities are considered illegal, and even sports betting is not permissible. Unfortunately this blanket ban has led to a thriving underground gambling scene, but many pay the price for being involved. Although online gambling is also deemed illegal there are still some who opt to do so, as access to foreign-based sites, although somewhat restricted by the government, is still possible.
In Lebanon the law states that gambling of any kind that is unauthorised is illegal, and the government has the power to block online casinos too. Online gambling is only allowed at a designated online casino, and land based gambling is facilitated at Casino du Liban in Jounieh. Additionally, a casino ship often takes players into international waters where they can gamble freely without the worry of breaking local laws.
Like several other European Union member states land-based and online gambling have historically been legal in Poland but controlled by strict government monopoly and gambling with offshore operators technically permitted but unregulated. The 2009 Act on Gambling has seen several amendments to bring it into line with European Union principles.
New regulations for online gambling were enacted on 1 April 2017, requiring international operators to apply for sports betting licences. All other online gambling and casino games are legally provided by the country’s designated gambling monopoly only.
These 8 countries all have strict anti-gambling policies in place and it advisable that locals and visitors do not challenge them in any way.