International Law

Below, you will find a few examples of the legal situation for online gambling in various jurisdictions world wide. Please note that laws and legal interpretations can change quickly. Also worthy of mentioning is that the laws at the national level isn’t always identical with laws enacted by jurisdictions within a country. So for instance, a province or native reserve within Canada can have their own laws pertaining to online gambling.

int law

North America

Antigua and Barbuda

The government of Antigua and Barbuda licenses online gambling companies. Antigua and Barbuda’s regulatory standards has been added to the United Kingdom’s “white list” which allows gambling companies with a gambling license from Antigua and Barbuda to advertise their servies in the United Kingdom. Several companies with a gambling license from Antigua and Barbuda are traded on the London Stock Exchange.

Canada

The criminal code of Canada stipulates that gambling may only be offered by an establishment that is owned or licensed by a provincial government. As early as 2004, Playnow.com was launched, an online casino that fulfilled the legal requirements by being owned by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation.

As far as we know, only one company has been prosecuted for taking bets from Canadian’s without being owned or licensed by a provincial government. British Columbia, one of Canada’s provinces, prosecuted Starnet Communications International (SCI). SCI was incorporated in Delaware, USA but run by Vancouver residents. (Vancouver is located within British Columbia.) SCI forfeited nearly $4 million in profits and was fined $100,000.

Europe

France

Online gambling offered by private companies in France was legalized and regulated just before the 2010 FIFA World Cup. During the first month after the legalization, France gamblers opened over 1.2 accounts on gambling sites operating with a French gambling license. Prior to this, only betting sites owned by the French state could offer legal online gambling in France.

In 2005, the European Commission opened up an investigation into the French legal framework for gambling, fearing that it might be in violation of EU laws. The following year, the Commission gave notice, and in 2007 France was requested to amend their existing laws in order to comply with EU laws. In 2009, France partly opened the French gambling market for operators from other EU countries. After receiving criticism for favoring state-owned French operators, France enacted the “Law No 2010-476 of 12 May 2010” (commonly known as the French Gambling Act of 2010). When it came into power in May 2010, it opened the online gambling market in France and created the French Gambling Authority (ARJEL).

ARJEL can issue three types of online gambling licenses:

  • Gambling license for online sports betting. (This includes fixed odds betting and pool betting, regardless of if it is pre-event betting or live betting.)
  • Gambling license for horse race betting. (In the form of pool betting.)
  • Gambling license for poker games.

As you can see, there is no gambling license available for online betting exchanges, online spread betting or online casinos. The law makers argued that these types of gambling were so addictive that they constitute a health treat.

Germany

The German Interstate Treaty on gaming came into force on January 1, 2008. It banned all forms of online gambling, except for wagers on horse racing.

In 2010, the European Court of Justice rules that the German regulation was in violation of EU law and had to be changed.

In 2011, the German state of Schleswig-Holstein passed its own online gambling legislation, after getting the draft approved by the European Commission. The new laws came into effect on January 1, 2012 and gambling licenses were issued from March 1, 2012. Online gambling types covered by the Schlewig-Holstein legalization includes sports books, booking exchanges, poker and casino games – but not roulette, blackjack or baccarat. There is no limit to the number of licenses that can be issued by Schleswig-Holstein. The state of Schleswig-Holstein takes a 20% gross profit tax on all products offered with a Schleswig-Holstein gambling license.

Russia

In December 2006, a law was enacted that prohibits all online gambling in Russia. The law also bans any gambling relying on telecommunications technology.

In 2009, offline gambling was made illegal in the entire country by Federal Law № 244, with the exception of four regional subject areas: Kaliningrad Oblast, Altai Krai, Primorksy Krai, and Azov-City.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, gambling is regulated by the Gambling Commission under the Gambling Act 2005 on behalf of the government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Any type of online gambling is legal in the United Kingdom if it is licensed by the Gambling Commission. The Gambling Commission has the mandate to license a wide range of online gambling types, such as casino games, poker, lotteries, bingo, and sports betting. On the Commission’s site, you can find lists of all licensed operators.

Whitelisted gambling jurisdictions

Section 331 of the Gambling Act 2005 forbids entities from all jurisdictions that are not part of the European Economic Area and are located outside the UK and Gibraltar to advertise their gambling services within the United Kingdom. There is an important exception to this rule: entities from so called whitelisted jurisdictions are allowed to advertise.

The “white list” can be found on the website of the UK Gambling Commission. Examples of jurisdiction included in the list are Alderney, Antigua and Barbuda, Isle of Man, and Tasmania.

Visit www.casinon.eu to find safe casinos within EU where most countries can play without paying taxes for winnings.

Asia

India

From a legal perspective, online gambling in India is a quagmire. Gambling in India is regulated by the different states, but online gambling is generally seen as a central subject that is to be regulated federally – but it isn’t. The Supreme Court of India has requested the opinion of the central government, but the central government has declined to answer. There is the Public Gaming Act of 1867 but it is not very helpful for regulating online gambling. In September 2015, the Central Board of Direct Taxes issued a Circular titled “Clarification on Tax Compliance for Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets” where they say that online poker players in India must declare their money transactions on foreign poker sites.

On a state basis, the situation is sometimes more clear. In the state of Maharashtra, online gambling is banned by the Bombay Wager Act.

Israel

The Israeli gambling law (Israeli Penal Law 5737 – 1977) does not specifically address online gambling, but all gambling is prohibited under this act, with two exceptions: The Israel Lottery and The Israeli Commission for Sports Gambling.

In December 2005, the Attorney General ordered all online gambling sites to close. At the same time, the Attorney General ordered credit cards companies to cease cooperating with online gambling sites.

In Many 2007, the backgammon site Play65 was excluded from the Attorney General’s orders. A statement was issued which said “According to the law, a backgammon web site is still seen as a gambling site, which is illegal. However, there are special concerns specific to Play65: The company is not taking part in the gambling activity; third parties cannot bet on game outcomes; winning amounts are limited; and the company tries to avoid participation of minors in the games. Thus, we can say that Play65 is not a standard gambling web site, and as such we allow its activities.” Play65 ceased operations in 2012.

In 2012, the Tel Aviv Police Commander ordered local Internet Service Providers to block access to certain online gambling sites. This order was invalidated by the District Court. In 2013, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal and clarified that the police does not have legal authority to issue such orders.

Oceania

Australia

Traditionally, gambling in Australia has been regulated independently by the states and territories. Since the advent of more modern gambling services, the Commonwealth has taken a somewhat more active role in regulating gambling. In June 2001, the Australian Government passed the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. This act makes it illegal to provide an interactive gambling service to a customer physically present in Australia. The act does not make it illegal for a customer physically present in Australia to play online poker or online casino games.

The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 does not outlaw online sports betting through licensed operators, provided that the betting is made before the event starts. According to the law makers, the individual engaged in this type of betting online is not gambling “interactively”.

Online lotteries are not prohibited by The Interactive Gambling Act 2001, provided that they are not instant-win lotteries.