October 3, 2023

East Meets West: A Deep Dive into Online Casino Regulations

The re­gulations surrounding online casinos and gambling differ significantly worldwide, illustrating the cultural, social, and political distinctions of each region. Below, we will briefly explore some key regulatory variances between Asia and the We­stern world (with a primary focus on Europe and North America).


Asia has a very varied landscape in terms of gambling laws: There’s a wide spectrum of regulatory landscapes in Asia, from very strict to relatively permissive.

  1. China: All forms of gambling are illegal in mainland China except for state-run lotteries. This includes online casinos. However, the special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong operate under different rules. Macau, in particular, is a global gambling hub.
  2. Japan: Gambling is mostly illegal except for specific games like pachinko and public sports betting. In recent years, Japan has started planning integrated resorts, but online casinos remain illegal.
  3. India: Gambling regulations are largely state-driven. Some states allow lotteries and certain types of betting, while others don’t. Online casinos fall in a gray area in most of the country, with only a few states having clear regulations.
  4. Philippines: The country has a more open approach to gambling. The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) licenses and regulates online gaming entities.
  5. Singapore: Online gambling is mostly restricted. Only a few operators have been granted exceptions to offer online betting services.
  6. South Korea: Only a few forms of gambling are legal, and online casinos aren’t among them. However, there are a few state-sanctioned online betting options for things like lotteries and sports.

The West (Europe & North America)

  1. Europe:
    • Regulated Markets: Many European countries, like the UK, Spain, and Italy, have established licensing systems for online casinos. The UK has even recently updated laws further to protect players and operators in line with the rise of mobile gambling.
    • Taxes: Taxes vary from country to country. For example, the UK has a point of consumption tax, meaning operators are taxed based on where the player is consuming the service, not where the operator is based.
    • Consumer Protection: Strong emphasis on protecting the consumer with regulations focusing on ensuring fair play, protecting minors, and addressing gambling addiction.
  2. North America:
    • United States: The legality of online gambling is state-dependent. For example, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and a handful of others have legalized and regulated online casino games. The Wire Act and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) have caused complexities at the federal level.
    • Canada: Similar to the US, online gambling regulations are province-dependent. Some provinces operate their own online casinos or partner with private operators.
    • Consumer Protection: Both the US and Canada emphasize the importance of consumer protection, especially concerning fraud prevention and problem gambling.

General Trends:

  1. Technology: Both in Asia and the West, there’s an emphasis on using technology to ensure fair play and combat fraud. This includes Random Number Generators (RNGs) for games and Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols.
  2. Advertising: There are often regulations around advertising gambling services, especially concerning the portrayal of gambling as glamorous or targeting minors.
  3. Responsible Gambling: Both regions have increased their focus on promoting responsible gambling, often mandating operators to provide resources for players who might have gambling problems.

Contrasting regulations of specific countries


Gambling in Malaysia is a complex landscape. The Betting Act of 1953 and the Common Gaming Houses Act of 1953 largely deem common gaming houses, betting houses, and the act of gaming itself as illegal. However, there are exceptions. The official state-run lottery and the Genting Highlands Resort, a major casino resort, are permitted.

Muslims, who make up the majority of the Malaysian population, are prohibited from gambling due to Islamic law. Online gambling remains in a gray zone, and many Malaysians access and use offshore online casinos. Despite the government’s attempts to block such sites, a number of sites available in Malaysia are frequently accessed by residents and are not strictly illegal.


In Spain, online gambling is more openly accepted. In 2011, the Spanish Gambling Act was implemented, which allows for regulated online gambling activities such as casino games, poker, sports betting, and lotte­ries. The regulatory authority responsible for oversee­ing this sector is the Directorate­ General for the Re­gulation of Gambling.


Gambling in Russia has had a turbulent history. In 2009, the government enacte­d a widespread ban on almost all forms of gambling, restricting it to only four de­signated zones. This ban also exte­nded to online gambling, with the gove­rnment actively blacklisting and blocking foreign gambling site­s. Currently, the only legal online­ betting allowed is for sports, but only if the company holds a Russian license.


The online­ gambling scene in Germany has se­en notable transformations over time­. In 2008, the introduction of the Interstate­ Treaty on Gambling (ISTG) effectively prohibited online gambling, with the e­xception of horse racing. However, recent deve­lopments in 2020 have brought about a more libe­ralized market. Starting from July 2021, online casinos and poke­r have been pe­rmitted under stringent re­gulations and licensing requirements.


France has a long history of implementing stringent regulations for online­ gambling. In 2010, the country introduced the Fre­nch Gambling Act, which permitted license­d online gambling activities such as sports betting, horse­ racing, and poker. However, online­ casino games like slots remain prohibite­d. The regulation of this industry is overse­en by the regulatory body ARJEL.


Gambling regulations in Australia are­ decentralized and administe­red by each state and te­rritory. The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 (IGA) prohibits Australian-base­d online casinos from offering real money games to residents. However, Australians can legally access offshore­ online casinos, although these casinos are not allowed to advertise their services within Australia.


Gambling in Thailand is largely illegal, with a few exceptions, such as the state-run lottery and horse racing in Bangkok. While land-based casinos are prohibited, many Thai residents access offshore online casinos, similar to Malaysia. The government has taken steps to clamp down on these platforms, but enforcement remains inconsistent. Despite the general prohibition, illegal gambling dens are prevalent.


Historically, most forms of gambling have been illegal in Brazil, but there’s a continuous push to liberalize the market. While land-based casinos are prohibited, the Brazilian Senate has made moves toward legalizing sports betting. Online gambling isn’t explicitly regulated, leading many residents to play on offshore websites.

South Africa

The National Gambling Act of 2004 prohibited both offering and engaging in online gambling, with the exception of sports betting. However, many South Africans continue to access offshore online casinos despite potential legal repercussions. The government has proposed new regulations to address online gambling more comprehensively, but laws are still somewhat unclear.


Italy has a fully regulated online gambling market. The Italian Gambling Authority, known as the Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM), oversees licensing. Since liberalizing the online gambling market in 2006, Italy has seen a surge in online operators entering the market. All forms of online gambling, from casinos to poker and sports betting, are legal and regulated.


Sweden underwent a major change in its gambling regulations in 2019. The country shifted from a state-run monopoly to a more open system. The Swedish Gambling Authority, Spelinspektionen, oversees the industry. All operators wishing to offer services to Swedish residents must obtain a license. The regulations also include strict rules about marketing and bonuses to promote responsible gambling.

So, while there are common themes in online casino regulations globally, such as promoting responsible gambling and protecting consumers, the specific regulations differ widely between Asia and the West. Cultural and political factors heavily influence these differences.

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