How is Legal Online Gambling Regulated?

Online gambling is regulated differently the world over. Because of this, it can be confusing as to which rules you should follow when gambling online. Is it illegal to even be playing at an online casino in the country where you live? How do you find this out? One way to be sure is to always read the terms and conditions of the online casino you’re looking to play at. If it’s not detailed in their terms and conditions then the best course of action is either to contact their customer support or, if you’re still unsure, to contact the regulatory board from your own country to check if it’s legal or not.

A lot of the laws in place are there to regulate the actual online casino or betting site rather than the individual. It is these laws that make it legal or illegal for the online gambling site to offer its gaming services to residents of a particular country or even have their office and gaming servers based in that country too. It’s always good practice to keep an eye on national or international laws that can affect your ability to gamble online. This is in much the same way that you would choose a regulated and accredited online casino over a non-regulated one.

Gambling Legislation in the UK, U.S and Canada

United States of America

The “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)” was passed around 2006. This made the processing of any digital transactions between U.S citizens and online gambling sites illegal. This led to many sites having an outright ban on American citizens playing at their online casinos for fear of harsh penalties. Some sites continued to allow Americans to play on their sites, stating that because they themselves were based in a licensed jurisdiction, they were not contravening any laws which prohibited online gambling under the UIGEA. This was not enough for some American citizens and the more cautious players chose to play it safe by stopping playing online altogether. There are currently 3 states in America where it is legal to offer online casino or poker games, and these are Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. Currently, a further 2 states, California and Pennsylvania, are campaigning to allow online poker sites to operate within their jurisdictions.


In Canada, there is legislation that makes it illegal for any organization to provide online gambling services to Canadians without a proper license from the Canadian Government. There is no law however that makes it illegal for Canadian citizens to use overseas gambling sites and each Canadian province can regulate online gambling in their own region, for example, the Kahnawake Gambling Commission that facilitate their own gambling legislation in southern Quebec and who also approve licenses to multiple overseas operators. Many people have raised issues with the legality of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission but they are able to do this without interference from the Canadian Government because they are considered a sovereign state in their own right.

United Kingdom

In the UK both traditional forms of gambling and online gambling are legal and well regulated. UK residents can use sites that are run from within the country and outside of it as long as the online gambling site is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. This is a late addition as far as it was recently introduced in 2014. Up to then, only sites that were licensed from white-listed jurisdictions were allowed to accept UK players. The UK is an attractive market for online gambling operators because of its rigid legislation and regulation, the only negative aspect being that the rate of tax is higher than in other jurisdictions.

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