Since the iGaming revolution took the world by storm just over a decade ago, the legislative landscape has changed dramatically. Where the land was once singular and smooth, it's now contoured to suit different regions.
Arguably the major catalyst for legislative change was the 2006 US Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Attached to the SAFE Port Act, this legislation essentially outlawed payment processing between US residents and online betting sites.
Following the advent of UIGEA, a number of iGaming operators left the US. Some, however, stayed and that prompted the FBI and DOJ to get involved on April 15, 2011. Colloquially known as Black Friday, this day saw the US iGaming economy shut down overnight; a move which, subsequently, forced other countries to examine their own iGaming laws.
Today, online gambling is largely regulated by individual countries. While there are still exceptions to this rule, there has been an epistemic shift over the last few years and that has resulted in more and more regions writing their own iGaming laws. To ensure you're gambling legally, always stay up to date on the country's laws from which you are gambling.
Country Overviews List
Online gambling is incredibly popular in Australia with around 80% of Australians gambling at least once a year. However, recent changes in the law are ... Read More This stern "Terminator" brand of genius might glean a little insight into the Austrian government's view on gambling laws, which is one of complete, muscular ... Read More Historians have discovered documents referring to card games and lotteries existing in Belgium as far back as 1300, and a national lottery as early as ... Read More Native Brazilians and those travelling to the country will have to look beyond its borders if they want to place a bet online.... Read More A study conducted by the Canadian Gaming Association found that legalised gambling in Canada generates around $16 billion in revenue for the country every year, ... Read More Denmark's population has amongst the highest average income in the world. It seems all that disposable income is contributing to a major surge in online ... Read More The Republic of Finland has had a government-controlled gambling monopoly in place since before World War II.... Read More The general picture of gambling in France presents something of a paradox: it is a country with a culture of gambling that stretches back hundreds ... Read More Despite the game of poker supposedly deriving its name from the German word pochen (to brag/bluff), you may struggle to play online poker in the ... Read More Having received two bailouts from the EU, the Greek government has been making major changes to the way online gambling is regulated in the country.... Read More The popularity of online gambling in Australia has grown exponentially since the industry's emergence over the past decade or so, with around 80% of Australians ... Read More The unique nation of Indonesia’s government has gone to great lengths to ban gambling in all its forms.... Read More It is estimated that Irish punters gamble over €5 billion a year (equivalent to €14 million per day), with more than 2% of Irish adults ... Read More The home of pizza and birthplace of the Renaissance, Italy also has a strong history of gambling that dates back to the Roman Empire.... Read More Although Japan does not have any casinos in the Western sense of the word, the island state contains nearly 20,000 gambling halls offering 'entertainment with ... Read More Malaysia has emerged as one of the most financially robust nations in Southeast Asia since becoming a free nation in the late 1950s.... Read More Despite its problems, the United Mexican States remains one of the world's largest economies and has surprisingly strict laws on certain issues - specifically, gambling.... Read More The second smallest country in the world, Monaco is a kind of gambling Mecca.... Read More The New Zealand government’s stance on gambling is slightly different to that of neighboring Australia's with New Zealanders already wagering over $NZ 2 billion a ... Read More Norway has produced some of the best poker players in recent years. Despite this, gambling in Norway is heavily restricted, with tough legislation.... Read More Poland's principles of freedom and democracy haven't fully extended to the realms of online gambling, with many of its restrictions coming under fire from both ... Read More Romania has had something of a rollercoaster relationship with gambling in the past century or so, in line with a similarly turbulent period in the ... Read More In opposition to many European nations, Serbia's lengthy and illustrious past has no record of any legal gambling right up until 1964.... Read More Gambling in South Africa has always been a controversial subject, with reformers wanting to open up the market in order to generate more revenue, and ... Read More South Korea often makes the headlines solely for its rocky relationship with its northern neighbours, but despite this, online gambling sites based within South Korea ... Read More The Spanish have a penchant for gambling, with estimates suggesting that more than €1.9 billion is spent on the pastime each and every year.... Read More Sweden, best known for its meatballs, flat-pack furniture and pop group ABBA, has a long and complicated history with gambling.... Read More Despite all the wealth invested in Sweden, the national gambling industry is only just finding its legs – particularly online.... Read More Famous for its beautiful islands, wild parties and the enigmatic capital city of Bangkok, Thailand follows in the footsteps of other South-East Asian nations by ... Read More The Netherlands as a country is famous for its relaxed laws on drugs and prostitution, but when it comes to gambling, their liberal attitude hits ... Read More The South-East Asian cluster of islands known as the Philippines are now one of the region’s most popular destinations for gambling.... Read More Whilst Turkey currently remains a secular state, the influence of Islam can still be seen in the government's stance towards gambling.... Read More Despite historic antipathy, the Vietnamese government has even shown signs of warming towards the rather capitalist concept of gambling - it has now issued a ... Read More
Major iGaming Licensing Bodies
Before the iGaming world fractured into regulatory regions, the industry's operators were required to obtain a general licence from one of the following organisations:
- Antigua Directorate of Offshore Gaming
- Curacao Gaming Control Board
- Kahnawake Gaming Commission
- Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)
- Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC)
- Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission
- Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (GRA)
Although these licensing bodies still exist, they now have less influence than they once did. The organisations based in Malta, the Isle of Man, Gibraltar and Alderney are still used to licence operators in markets without national regulations.
However, in countries where there are rules governing iGaming, each operator must now hold a specific licence for that market. If you're anteing up online in the following countries, you need to look out for licensing marks from these organisations:
- United Kingdom: Gambling Commission
- France: Autorité de Régulation des Jeux En Ligne (ARJEL) (segregated)
- Italy: Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (AAMS) (segregated)
- Spain: Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) (segregated)
- US States: Nevada (Nevada Gaming Control Board), New Jersey (Division of Gaming Enforcement) and Delaware (Delaware Lottery) (all segregated).
Types of iGaming Licences
In general, there are three main types of iGaming licence: universal, regional and segregated. As you'd expect, universal iGaming licences are valid around the world, except for regions where national laws take precedence.
The remaining licence types are reserved for the countries listed above. Depending on a government's stance, iGaming operators can be forced to segregate national players or simply filter them through a specific portal.
To illustrate this point, let's consider the online poker market in France and the UK: As it stands, both countries have national regulations that require operators to hold national licences.
However, for UK residents, it's still possible to compete against international players (i.e. countries without law preventing cross-border competition). In contrast, residents of France may only play against other residents.
In both countries an operator must hold a valid licence; however, the freedom players have within each country is different.
Obtaining a Licence
When it comes to licensing and regulating online gaming, major legislative bodies, like the familiar eCOGRA, are there to ensure players are protected at all times. To achieve this goal, these organisations assess all operators using the following credentials:
- fair and secure software that's been verified by third party companies
- sufficient operating funds to cover all costs
- a stable interface
- high quality data protection methods
- links with established payment processors that are verified as secure
- responsible gaming features
- player funds held in segregated accounts
- compliance with legal gambling age limits
Once an operator has met these standards, it is then required to pay a licensing fee to each relevant body as well as an annual levy.
More Changes Ahead
At present the flow of iGaming regulation has seen a number of markets segregated. From Italy and France to the United States, local players have been cut off from larger, more lucrative markets. Although this has allowed certain regions to exercise tighter controls, it's come at the cost of liquidity.
As the industry continues to grow and evolve, it's likely we'll see various regions agreeing pacts that will allow operators to serve more players. Indeed, in the US, where only three states have legalised online gambling, two of those (Nevada and Delaware) now share playerpools.
This trend is likely to continue over the next few years as operators and governments look for ways to increase revenue. Moreover, as players demand greater freedom to play, it's likely that governments will have to respond by removing some of the fences that currently subdue millions of players.
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