Illegal Gambling Around the World

Illegal Gambling Around the World

Gambling is legal in most parts of North America, Western Europe, and Australia. However, there are parts of the world where gambling is not legal. In some countries, such as Iran and Iraq, gambling is illegal because of religion. In other countries, there is some form of gambling—but not for their citizens. Countries have also attempted to ban online gambling and block websites that cater to online gamblers. Here are some of the countries that have banned gambling in some form.

The Middle East

Nearly all the countries in the Middle East forbid gambling. The region is overwhelmingly Muslim, and Islam forbids gambling. According to the religion, gambling is a sin and, therefore, illegal. Countries, such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia, all forbid gambling. If the authorities catch people gambling, they can be severely punished. However, there are countries in the Middle East that allow some form of gambling. For example, Lebanon allows one casino in a tourist resort. However, it does not allow online gambling. While not Muslim, Israel has banned casino gambling and online gambling. However, the country allows gambling offshore with casino cruises leaving from the city of Eilat.

For those countries in the Middle East that have forbidden gambling, people still try to gamble online. And, they have had some success. Israel has tried to block gaming by blocking websites. While this discourages the “legitimate” bookmakers and online casinos, such as William Hill and 888 Holdings, it doesn’t discourage others. Many sites that Israel has blocked quickly reappear under a different name. In addition, Israelis are bypassing the blocks put up by the government in order to gamble. There are several videos on YouTube in Hebrew that show how to access forbidden websites while living in Israel. It appears, for some of the countries in the Middle East, blocking does not work.

Gambling in India

India is one of the largest countries in the world, and bills itself as the world’s largest democracy. Gambling in India is frustrating, to say the least. There are contradictory gambling rules present in the country. In addition, the government cannot agree on how to fix the 150-year-old gambling laws.

There are three major problems with the current gambling laws. First, gambling laws vary from state to state. There are some states near the Pakistan border that forbid gambling. These states are primarily Muslim. However, it is legal in others. Goa, for example, has casinos, but it also has a large tourism industry.

Another problem in India is that there are no rules that either permit or forbid online gaming. This has led to millions and millions of Indians gambling illegally online. There are many companies headquartered in India that are operating online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks. This allows Indians to play whatever game they want. None of these websites is paying taxes on its revenue. And, this has been the argument of many legislators in India, who want to legalize gambling. However, the legislation that would regulate online gambling has been foundering in the legislative branch for nearly five years. There is no sign yet that it will pass.

Third, there are gambling laws regarding poker. When poker first appeared in India 150 years ago, the Indian government outlawed it. The government saw it as a game of chance, rather than a game of skill. However, there is a huge amount of data that now suggests poker is a game of skill. And, that would make it legal under Indian law. In addition, poker has become increasingly popular in India. And, millions of Indians play poker, either online or in clubs, even though the game is not legal. There has been a handful of poker champions from India on international poker tours. Legislators have used that fact as a reason to legalize the game.

Southeast Asia

Like India, Southeast Asia has an interesting mix of laws. In countries, such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, gambling is not legal. However, there are many different loopholes that citizens and tourists can pass through in order to gamble in those countries. In Thailand, for example, gambling is illegal. However, there are hundreds of casinos, sportsbooks, and gaming clubs in Bangkok that operate in violation of the law. They even advertise in newspapers, tourist guides, and online. Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos allow casinos, but only for people who are not citizens. Casino guests have to show a passport in order to gamble.

However, in these countries, there are a lot of online illegal gambling establishments. Citizens gamble online and play casino games or bet with sportsbooks, but they also play card games and dice games. They can also bet on sports in large underground casinos. However, if the authorities catch anyone running an illegal gambling ring, the punishment is steep. A person could receive a prison sentence of up to 10 years. All these countries in Southeast Asia want foreign investment, but they do not encourage foreign investment in casino gambling.


There are more people in China than any other place on the planet. Unlike India, however, China is a tightly controlled Communist country. Gambling has been forbidden since the end of World War II. The Chinese people have enjoyed gambling for hundreds of years, especially mahjong and card games as well. Chinese gamers have been especially fond of poker and baccarat. Pai gow poker is an extremely popular game with the Chinese.

China, like many of the countries on the list, has a strange relationship with gambling. Currently, there is only one form of gaming that is legal in mainland China: the lotteries sponsored by the government. They are the China Sports Lottery and the China Welfare Lottery. The sports lottery revenue funds the maintenance of sports facilities and training for Chinese Olympic athletes. The other lottery helps senior citizens and the disabled with housing and other expenses, such as health care.

With all other gambling banned in the country, illegal gambling is rampant. According to researchers, the Chinese spend more than $143 billion each year on illegal gaming. In addition to the illegal clubs that offer table games, the Chinese people could play poker games online and place bets until June 2018. That month, the Chinese government banned all online poker applications, whether people played them for money or prizes.

While there is no gambling permitted on the Chinese mainland, two areas of the country do allow it. Both were former colonies of foreign countries and have had gambling for decades. Hong Kong, which was a British territory until 1997, allows gambling—mostly on horse races. Gambling is also encouraged on Macau, which is a peninsula and former Portuguese colony. The autonomous territory has 38 casinos and is the most lucrative gambling location in the world. The casinos make close to $40 billion a year.

With the sheer amount of illegal gambling taking place, it is strange that countries have not moved to legalize gambling. This is especially true when illegal gambling is taking place, and companies are raking in money without paying revenue. If countries legalize gambling, they would be able to use the revenue for community services.

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