Gambling legislation varies from one country to another. One form of gambling can be a perfectly legal and acceptable recreational activity in one country, and yet could be an illegal activity in another. Online gambling is an unregulated industry in Canada, apart from in the Province of Ontario, which became a regulated region for online gambling in April 2022. In this article, we will look at some key gambling markets and regulation around the world compared with that of Canada.
Canadian Gambling Regulation
Whilst land-based casinos are legal in Canada, the country is yet to define any online gambling laws, aside from making it illegal for online casinos to operate in the country. Canadian players can however, access offshore online casinos. In this respect, Canada is an unregulated market, with Ontario being the only regulated province for online gambling. To learn more on Canadian online gambling regulation, and explore the regulation per Canadian province, please read our our dedicated Gambling Laws in Canada Guide.
As in many other countries, land-based casinos are legal in the USA. They offer all forms of casino games from poker, blackjack, slots, lottery, bingo any other casino games. In terms of online gambling sites, things have changed drastically since 2018 when America relaxed its gambling laws. US online gambling laws vary from state to state, and in some states online casinos are still illegal.
One thing is sure, the online gambling industry will continue to grow massively in the US, especially if the country can find a way to simplify their online gambling laws.
Japan has strict gambling laws and any games of luck are classed as illegal in Japan. Therefore gambling on poker, blackjack, and roulette is illegal under the Japanese Penal Code. However, some sports betting such as horse racing and motorcycle racing are permitted, as well as lotteries, slot machines, and pinball are allowed. Half of the winnings go to charities, while the other half goes to the player.
Gambling is illegal in much of China, except for the state-owned national lotteries. Gambling is only permitted on the island of Macau because it has an independent administrative status. Macao has the largest casino in the world; the Venetian Macau casino, which has over 6,000 slot machines and 800 table games. As for online gambling, it is popular among Chinese people, with more internet cafes opening to meet the needs of gamblers.
Gambling regulations in Africa vary from country to country, and some have very strict regulations. For example, Nigeria bans all games of luck such as roulette and dice games, but the lottery, land-based casinos and sports betting are legal.
South Africa is the only nation where online sports betting is legal, however, it has still amended the laws to restrict the number of bingo and machine licenses. And over in Kenya, betting laws state that all forms of gambling are allowed. The Betting Control and Licensing Act Kenya welcomes anyone to offer gambling services as long as they get licensed by their gambling board.
Turkey first created legislation for horse races, and later legalised the lucrative state-owned National Lottery in 1988. Since then, the gambling laws in Turkey have changed drastically and many forms of gambling have been banned. Though rare, Turkey has been known to crack down on players, banks and online casinos for their involvement in online gambling.
Gambling Regulation in Europe
Online gambling in Europe has differing levels of gambling regulation per country. Below are just some of the main markets, many of which are heavily regulated markets with strict gambling laws:
Online casinos operating in the United Kingdom are regulated by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and have some of the strictest gambling regulation in the world. The UK government regularly reviews its gambling regulation to prevent the rise in problem gambling. In terms of tax, the UK does not tax gambling winnings, on any form of gambling, whether online, in land-based casinos or in retail bookmakers. Whether a player wins £1 playing online slots, or £1 million on the National Lottery, no gambling is taxed since it is pure luck and not an income.
All forms of land-based gambling are legal in France, including casino games, sports betting, horse racing, lotteries, and bingo. Online gambling regulations were loosened in 2010 when the country legalised online gambling, although gambling is still strictly regulated in France. With the rise of problem gambling, France is set to review gambling laws to impose more measures related to consumer protection.
Gambling is legal in Germany. But, there are several restrictions. For example, land-based casinos are limited to offer only table games and slots. Sports betting shops are allowed. Online sports betting was allowed under the German Interstate Treaty on Gambling of 2012 but was rejected on account it was violating EU’s fair competition rules.
The country came up with a modified Treaty in March 2020, which came into effect in July 2021. This Treaty legalized online gambling, whether it’s casino, sports betting, or any other. Operators are welcome to apply for a license to start offering online gambling to residents. Bettors are expected to impose deposit limit per month, not exceeding $1000. Yet, gambling on blackjack and roulette, and other table games is not included in the new Treaty. This means fans for table games will look elsewhere to play these games online. The use of cryptocurrencies are also not permitted in Germany.
Spain legalised online gambling in 2011 following reports that the country’s online gambling market was bigger than United Kingdom’s online sports betting market. Gambling sites must have a Spanish licence to be legal. Another aspect covered in the Spanish Gambling Act (2011) is that bettors’ wins are subject to taxation.
Sports betting, online casino gambling, land-based gaming, poker, lotteries, and other forms of gambling are allowed. Moreover, contests or games broadcasted on telecommunication where players win prizes are also allowed. The Spanish gambling regulation is extensive, inclusive compared to Canada’s.
The Italian gambling regulation has developed dynamically. The law allows both land-based and online gambling. Before 2006, gambling on games of chance was illegal. But, the European Commission has influenced Italy to gradually expand the list of permitted gambling operated.
For an operator to offer gambling services in Italy, the operator must have an office in Italy. An operator can only offer his services for nine years, after which the Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies will reevaluate whether to re-license the operator. All forms of gambling are allowed, including online poker, sports betting casino games, lotteries, horse racing, and bingo.
Denmark has comprehensive legislation controlling gambling in the country. There are eight land-based casinos spread across major cities. These casinos offer gambling services on slots, poker, table games, punto banco, blackjack, and roulette.
Online gambling was authorized in 2012 through the Danish Gambling Act. The country has over 40 local online gambling platforms. Yet, some residents look for casinos offshore. However, there is no law against this, and no one has been financially penalized or imprisoned for playing on offshore platforms. Pool betting is also allowed. Interested operators must seek a license from Danish Gambling Authority. Danish nationals can participate in gambling only if they are over 18 years.
In Switzerland, gamblers can only bet online with Swiss casinos that are based in the country and pay Swiss taxes. All forms of gambling from foreign online betting sites are prohibited in Switzerland. In fact, the Federal Gaming Commission pursues anyone promoting online gaming, operating a gaming server, or advertising a gambling activity. In this comparison, Canada is far more relaxed in its views of off-shore online gambling.
Canada Online Gambling Regulation: Our Summary
Gambling regulation differs greatly from country to country, state to state, and from province to province. However, one thing that is certain is that gambling regulation is a good thing for many reasons including player safety, and the benefits countries can enjoy from revenue taxes. Compared to other markets around the world, Canada lags behind somewhat when in comes to gambling regulation with only Ontario being regulated.
Canadian gambling law is non-comprehensive and only time will tell if the country will continue to regulate other regions to bring their online gambling laws in line with other regulated international markets, such as the UK and USA.