Global Online Betting Regulations
Betting on sports and the various laws governing it depend on where you are in the world. To ensure that you know what you can and cannot do when it comes to online betting, here’s how it differs from country to country.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Australia?
Sports betting is legal in Australia, however, there is no single piece of legislation governing gambling activities in the country. Instead, it is regulated at both state and federal level.
There are a plenty of Australian-based betting companies licensed to operate retail shops and also accept online sports bets. Moreover, many of the biggest international sportsbooks are also licensed to operate down under.
The biggest restriction to be aware of is in-play betting, which is illegal to do online. It is possible to bet while an event is taking place, but it has to be done over the telephone or in person in a betting shop.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Bahrain?
All forms of gambling, including online betting, are illegal in Bahrain. The population of the island nation in the Persian Gulf is predominantly Muslim and are therefore prohibited from gambling by The Quran – the central religious text of Islam.
Sports fans can enjoy a wide range of sports events in Bahrain, including Formula One racing, however, they are not able to legally bet real money on any of those events. Article 308 of the Bahrain Penal Code states that Bahrainis who gamble in public face a fine of up to BD 100 ($265 US approx.) or a maximum three-month prison term.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Bangladesh?
Gambling in Bangladesh is illegal, except for horse racing and the lottery. The official gambling laws date back to its time under British rule and although they’ve been modified, all other forms of gambling are officially illegal.
The situation regarding online gambling, however, is more complex as it’s not directly referred to in law. Therefore, despite online gambling in Bangladesh flourishing in recent years, it should be noted that anyone partaking in it does so at their own risk as gambling is still an illegal activity.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Canada?
Yes, online sports betting in Canada is legal. However, it’s worth checking the minimum age for legal betting and if the sportsbook holds an online gaming license issued by the federal government. It’s also important to note that each Canadian province and territory has its own set of laws.
If you want to enjoy online sports betting in Canada, there’s a broad selection of Canadian-based sportsbooks to choose from, and many more offshore. When it comes to Canadian sports betting on offshore sites, the law does not state whether this is legal or not. However, there have been no prosecutions, or even arrests, of people for using them.
Is Sports Betting Legal in China?
Gambling in China is illegal under Chinese law and has been officially outlawed since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took power in 1949.
However, the reality is a little different. Chinese citizens are able to participate in state-run lotteries, which are not considered gambling. They can also visit Hong Kong and Macau – special administrative regions under control of the Chinese government – where sports betting is legal and regulated. The Hong Kong Jockey Club and Macau Jockey Club are huge entities in themselves, while Macau is sometimes referred to as the "Monte Carlo of the East”, with gambling tourism revenue making up about 50% of Macau’s economy.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Hong Kong?
Gambling is legal in Hong Kong but only through The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), founded in 1884.
The HKJC holds a government-granted monopoly on horse racing wagers, lotteries, and football betting, while its unique status actually makes them the largest taxpayer to the government.
The Gambling Ordinance in 1977 states that gambling involving a bookmaker or betting in a place other than an official gambling establishment, i.e. the HKJC, is illegal in Hong Kong.
Is Sports Betting Legal in India?
Online sports betting in India is legal in most parts of the country. However, the picture is a little more complicated than that. Online betting in India is treated as legal because it is not mentioned in Indian betting laws and, therefore, is not explicitly prohibited.
Gambling is seen as a state matter, and each of the 29 states has the authority to make their own gambling laws.
The only recent law that touches on the subject is the Information Technology Act of 2000 which regulates cyber activities in India, but this does not mention gambling or betting.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Ireland?
Sports betting in the Republic of Ireland is completely legal, as long as you are betting with a licensed operator. There are many local companies who operate betting shops on licensed premises as well as online platforms. Irish bettors can also use the major UK and international bookmakers, who have licenses to offer markets to customers in the country via websites, apps and land-based shops.
Betting revenue of more than $7.5 billion was reported in Ireland in 2017 alone, a figure that competes with that of much larger nations.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Japan?
Gambling in Japan is complicated. Although most forms are banned by the Criminal Code chapter 23, there are several exceptions, including betting on horse racing and certain motor sports. Public sports, lottery, and “toto” (football pools) are also held under special laws.
There are also no full-service online sportsbooks in Japan, as they aren’t officially legalized. Despite this, there are numerous offshore operators who are happy to accept bets from Japanese bettors. These sites, although in a grey area under Japanese law, mean millions of Japanese have used them to enjoy a bet without encountering any issues.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Korea?
Except for South Korea’s Sports Toto and Sports Proto products, online gambling is illegal for companies or individuals within the country. However, despite the strong restrictions on Korean sites, citizens can still gamble online at sportsbooks and casino sites based overseas which accept Korean players.
These offshore sites fall outside of the jurisdiction of South Korean law, and the government often seeks to ban access for South Korean bettors. In 2012, the illegal gambling market as a whole was reportedly worth $66 billion in 2012. Most companies have found this to be a risky enterprise though, with the South Korean police having made a number of high-profile raids on illegal online betting rings in recent years.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Macau?
Gambling is legal in Macau and has been since the 1850s when it was legalized by the Portuguese government. Macau, now a special administrative region like Hong Kong, is the only place in China where casinos are legal.
Recognized worldwide as the "Gambling capital of the world" or "Monte Carlo of the East”, Macau has overtaken Las Vegas in betting volume since 2007. However, online gambling is only legally accessible through The Macau Jockey Club – responsible for gambling on horse racing – and Macau Slot, which offers sports betting markets.
Macau bettors can use international bookmakers, despite them not being officially licensed to offer online betting, however the lack of legislation means citizens aren’t breaking the law by using them.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Malaysia?
Sports betting in Malaysia is illegal under the terms of The Betting Act 1953. This Act bans all forms of gambling unless the company has a legal license to operate. While there are exceptions to the rule – including lotteries, casino games and horse racing – all forms of sports betting and online gambling are illegal.
It’s important to note that Islam is the predominant religion of Malaysia, whose citizens live by Sharia law, in which all forms of gambling are forbidden.
Despite being illegal, online gambling has grown in popularity over the past few years. Betting on badminton and the English Premier League is immensely popular. Although illegal, international betting sites accept customers from Malaysia and process deposits and withdrawals in ringgits (RM), the Malaysian currency.
Is Sports Betting Legal in New Zealand?
Online sports betting (and lotteries) in New Zealand is legal. However, many other forms of gambling are specifically illegal under the Gambling Act of 2003.
The only home-based organization that may participate in sports betting is the Totalisator Agency Board (TAB), who administer sports betting in both Australia and New Zealand. The TAB also owns and operates retail outlets throughout New Zealand where people can place bets in person.
Despite no other New Zealand-based companies being able to offer online sports betting, New Zealanders are free to bet online at international sportsbooks, as long as those books have been granted a license to operate in the country.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Nigeria?
Sports betting in Nigeria is legal and is regulated by the National Lottery Regulatory Commission. Under the National Lottery Act 2005, the law distinguishes between games of skill (which are legal) and games of chance (which are illegal). This means the lottery, land-based casinos and sports betting are considered legal, whereas roulette, dice games and non-skilled card games are illegal.
Although online gambling is not specifically mentioned in law, it is regulated by the Nigerian Lottery Commission. All sportsbooks need to obtain a license from the gaming commission before operating in Nigeria. There are no restrictions on Nigerians betting with local or offshore gambling sites, as long as the operators oblige with the regulations and laws set out in the Act.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Pakistan?
Sports betting in Pakistan is considered illegal and has been since the Prevention of Gambling Act 1977. As an Islamic republic, Pakistan strictly prohibits all kinds of gambling, sports betting, and luck-based games. This means there are no legal local or online sportsbooks in Pakistan, with the exception of a few horse racing tracks where horse racing bets are accepted.
The majority of Pakistanis can still bet online with offshore sites, with many choosing sportsbooks based in the United Kingdom who are popular for providing a wide range of betting markets on cricket – the country’s most popular sport. This, however, is still illegal. Pakistanis can be arrested for gambling with foreign bookmakers, but due to the large population and difficulty in policing it, only a small portion are ever penalised.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Qatar?
Gambling is strictly illegal in Qatar as it is an Islamic country. Although the residents of Qatar are fond of different types of sports, ranging from camel racing to cricket, placing bets on any sport is illegal as per the country’s gambling laws. Residents and tourists will not find any legal poker clubs, bingo halls, or casinos in Qatar.
This does not mean that illegal gambling does not take place in Qatar. In fact, Qataris are fond of placing bets online with offshore sportsbooks, despite the country’s efforts to block online sportsbooks that accept bets from its residents. Despite this, individual players are low priority cases in the eyes of authorities, and it is unlikely that a Qatari player would be caught and penalized for betting online.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Singapore?
Although legalized, online sports betting is restricted in Singapore. The country’s only legal online sportsbook is The Singapore Pools, which is a subsidiary of the Tote Board. The Singapore Turf Club also offers some online betting on horse racing.
In 2014, Singapore passed the Remote Gambling Act, which made all online gambling illegal and only the Singapore Pools, in 2016, was granted an exemption to offer online sports betting and lottery services.
Before the Remote Gambling Act there was no statement in Singapore’s law which specifically stated that it was illegal for residents to bet on sports events at offshore online sportsbooks. This means many Singaporeans have accounts with offshore online sportsbooks such as Bet365, William Hill, and Ladbrokes. Although illegal to use, it’s not uncommon for international sportsbooks to accept new customers from Singapore.
Is Sports Betting Legal in South Africa?
Online sports betting in South Africa is legal and perfectly safe. The Gambling Act of 1965, however, officially banned all other forms of gambling except betting on horse racing.
Online sports betting is the only exception to the rule – provided you gamble with a sportsbook licensed to trade in South Africa. As recently as September 2020, the National Gambling Board of South Africa issued a statement making it “emphatically clear” that no online gambling activity is legal in the country except online sports betting.
There are now a huge range of local operators and international names for South African bettors to choose from.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Spain?
Yes, sports betting is legal in Spain. The Spanish Gambling Act was introduced in 2011 and made it obligatory for operators to obtain license to offer betting services. To make this slightly more complicated, each operator is required to acquire a separate license for each betting product they offer, which means, some sportsbooks offer only casino or only sports betting, although some do offer both.
All legal online operators in Spain must have an .es domain name and be licensed by Juego Seguro (the Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling). The list of sportsbooks for Spanish bettors to choose from is huge and, as well as local operators, many of the biggest international sportsbook are licensed to offer online betting here too.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Thailand?
All forms of gambling are illegal in Thailand, except for the government-sponsored Thai lottery and betting on horse racing at selected racetracks. The prohibition on gambling dates back to the Gambling Act 1935, and although the legislation doesn't specifically mention online betting or sports betting, both fall under the general category of gambling and are therefore illegal within the country’s borders.
The law is strictly enforced with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society cooperating with other state agencies to block websites that provide such services to Thai people. Although it is possible to access offshore sportsbooks, it should be made clear that they are not licensed by Thai authorities and are considered illegal.
Is Sports Betting Legal in the United Kingdom?
Sports betting in the United Kingdom is completely legal both in-person and online. Regulated by the Gambling Commission, this is the body that has the power to issue and oversee gambling licenses and ensure compliance with the Gambling Act of 2005.
The UK has an extremely wide availability of sportsbooks to choose from, with many of the world’s biggest names, including William Hill, Betfair and Bet365, originating from there. Online sports betting is seriously big business in the UK and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down.
Is Sports Betting Legal in the United States?
Yes, as of January 2021, online betting in the USA has been legalized to some extent in 18 states.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was overturned in 2018 and since then, several states have taken advantage of this and legalized sports betting.
However, it’s still not as simple as you’d think. There are no federal laws that govern gambling across the country and every state is free to legalize and regulate gambling as they see fit.
Although the picture is complex, the advice is simple. Bettors need to simply check if sports betting is legal in their chosen state and if they can also bet online, all of which can be done right here.
Also known as moneyline odds or US odds, it is always displayed using a bet total of $100.
The odds for the favorite, which will have a minus sign (-) in front of them, show the amount you need to bet to win $100.
The odds for the underdog, which will carry a plus sign (+), show how much you will win if you bet $100 on your choice.
If the Kansas City Chiefs are the favorites to win, their odds might be -175, and you’ll have to bet $175 to win $100 – a total return of $275.
Their opponents, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, may be priced at +145, and you’ll have to bet $100 to win $145 – a total return of $245.
Decimal odds are used in many parts of the world, including Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
The main thing to remember when you see decimal odds is that they include the stake that will be returned to you. This is not the case with American or fractional odds.
If you look at the market for a major European horse race and the favorite is priced at 3.50, that means if you stake $100 you will win $350.
Decimal odds may look unfamiliar to you at first but it doesn’t take long to be comfortable with them.
Fractional odds are distinctly old-school and are used in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The best way to understand them is to add the numbers either side of the dash together. Once you’ve done that, the number on the right of the slash is how often out of that total a certain event should happen.
If a competitor is 1/5, that means out of every six times the event occurs they should win five times – so they are a heavy favorite. Taken literally, this means, for every $5 you bet, you’ll get $1 in return.
If they are 10/1, they should win once every 11 times – so there is less chance it will happen. Which means, for every $1 you bet, you’ll get $10 in return.
To calculate your winnings, divide your stake by the number on the right and multiply the result by the number on the left.
Online sports betting is legal in many countries across the globe, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, Republic of Ireland, Hong Kong, Macau and more. However, each nation, and in some cases states, provinces and jurisdictions within the country, have their own laws and interpretations of what gambling is, and how to regulate it. We strongly advise that you check if online sports betting is legal in your country of choice before placing a wager.
Offshore sports betting is a grey area of gambling. Although some countries turn a blind eye to it, many have always considered it illegal for differing reasons, including regulation and monetization. Many are stamping down on offshore sports betting sites with the tightening of gambling regulations. It’s always best to check the laws of the country in which you’re planning to bet and ensure that the sportsbook of your choosing is licensed, or at the very least not prohibited from offering sports betting odds.
Sports betting apps are legal in the majority of countries where online sports betting is legal. Ultimately this depends on the country’s gambling laws and whether sports betting is legal. For example, in the United Kingdom, both are completely legal and bettors have a huge choice of sportsbook apps to choose from. In the US, the law can change from state to state, and many sports betting apps are only permitted to be used within state lines, or even in specific premises.
As of January 2021, 20 states have legalized sports betting to some extent. However, many have limitations or restrictions on online betting, so it’s important to check before placing your wagers. Click here for a full guide to sports betting in the US and all 50 states, plus Washington, DC.