Posted July 30, 2013 by John Baintree in News

Where Is Online Gambling Illegal?

The widespread implementation of the internet revolutionised the way in which tasks were carried. Aspects of business and pleasure have undergone huge transformations to coincide with the ‘information age’, which allows data to be exchanged over a vast network in just seconds. With the rise of online banking and commerce, the introduction of online gambling was an inevitable feature. However, although widely accepted in the UK and within the majority of European nations, in some countries online gambling is illegal. This can be to protect thriving gambling communities which come under state regulation, such as seen in the US and Germany, and is often justified by governments as protecting potential players from ‘games of chance’. This article will give an insight into the countries where online gambling is illegal, in an attempt to prevent any potential players from accidentally breaking any national laws.


Online gambling is is a very confusing issue within the United States, with even more confusing legislation to boot. Legally, gambling within America is split into two categories, ‘games of chance’ and ‘games of skill’, which further fuels the confusion surrounding the issue. One of the main gripes the American government has in regards to online gambling, is the use of electronic methods to transfer monies used for gambling on ‘games of chance’, with games of chance stereotypically being traditional casino games, such as roulette, however, the main emphasis of federal weight is focussed on sports betting, as outlined by the Federal Wire Act. This  means, even if europe gamblinggambling on a site that operates outside of the US, it is still illegal, due to using electronic methods to transfer currency which is used for online gambling.

Online gambling within America is a very current affair, which is in hot debate on a federal and state level. One of the most significant events is the federal ruling that poker is a game of skill, which then paved the way for America’s first legal poker site to begin operation. However, in order to legally participate, players must be based in Nevada, where the site operates from. There is speculation that sites in Delaware and New Jersey will soon follow, as the push for legal online gambling is taking off in those states in a big way. The legislation allowing online gambling is already in place within the aforementioned states, with punters awaiting for the appropriate legal gambling sites to materialise.

It is difficult to comment on the policy of internet gambling within America, due to the policies on the issue being irregular and far from uniform, but as it stands, online gambling is only legal in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey – albeit through some very confusing rules and regulations.



France toes a similar line to America in terms of the legality of online gambling, although it is slightly more liberal. The country came under criticism due to online gambling being totally illegal before 2010, as this went against the open market policies that operate within the EU. The scenario was soon changed in 2010 when the French opened their doors to online gambling, but only in the forms of sports betting and poker. This is because they are regarded as ‘games of skill’ by the French government, with an element of strategy being used by players. In contrast to this, ‘games of chance’ are still illegal.



The German case of online gambling is also very interesting. From 2008 a wide-scale ban was placed on all online gambling within Germany. This was justified by the state as a precaution to protect citizens against the dangers of gambling addiction. Germany is home to a thriving casino industry, however these are highly regulated by the state, who felt access to online versions would be dangerous for the German population. Efforts have been made to relax these laws, with the individual state of Schleswig-Holstein breaking with German uniformity and legalising online gambling on 1st January 2012. However, the state’s stance has soon changed and online gambling has now been brought back into line with Germany as a whole. However, a result of this venture, and the resulting reunification of policies between Germany states, has resulted in a more liberal policy in which the German government can grant licenses to private companies to operate online gambling facilities. This is also due to the long legal battle between online gambling company Bwin and the German state, with the former arguing Germany’s ban on online gambling does not coincide with EU law. Bwin eventually won this case and now operates a site on the .de domain, which offers sports betting, poker and casino games. Essentially, what all this means, is that online gambling is legal within Germany, providing it is through a state authorised vendor, if it is not, then it is illegal. As a result of this, there are far fewer online gambling sites which operate within Germany.

As you can see, there isn’t a universal policy when it comes to online gambling, with individual actors flexing their might in an attempt to sway proceedings. As a result of this, the climate of online gambling is always changing, with developments occurring at a fast rate. Because of this, it is recommendable to check the policy of wherever you may be, on both a state (if the country is comprised of individual states) and national level.

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