Major Gambling Laws and Regulations

Last Updated: 

Gambling legislation and regulation are major concerns for governments the world over, and staying abreast of relevant laws can be both difficult and important for players.

It's safe to assume every major government on the face of this earth has some form of gambling regulation. Some countries passed sweeping gambling laws (either for or against) that discuss the legality of all gambling in that particular country, regardless of the product in which the gambling took place.

Other countries, like the United States, have a much more complex gambling regulatory process involving minor rulings and laws per state that combine with the overarching federal laws but pertain to particular product gambling, like interpreting the legality of Daily Fantasy games or poker's classification as a game of skill.

In addition to all these country-specific laws, there are massive regulatory bodies that assist countries in assuring fair play as well as consistent legal practices by both the player and the operator. Software and products are also tested and regulated by these bodies. All this doesn't even begin to cover licenses, but that's for another page.

These major laws, regulations, and regulatory bodies that shape the gambling world have been researched and explained within the following 'Major Gambling Law and Regulation Overviews List'. From the United States' monumental UIGEA ruling to eCOGRA, this page features all you need to know about the world's most important and impactful gambling laws and regulations.

Major Laws that Changed the Gambling Landscape

With each individual country enacting particular gambling laws, it's tough to be familiar with them all but a few of these laws and regulations passed by major governments of top gambling markets have shifted, if not completely changed, the gambling landscape requiring a more in-depth look to ensure a full understanding of the world's gambling industry.

Most of the laws discussed within this page will revolve around what many consider positive change to the industry like the United Kingdom's Gambling Act 2005, passed to regulate all forms of gambling in England, Wales and Scotland. This shifted the licensing process from the federal to local level and essentially established the UK Gambling Commission, the governing body of licensing in one of the world's largest gambling markets.

Unfortunately for some unlucky punters inhabiting a country where gambling has been outlawed or significantly curbed, their major laws have made what most consider a negative impact on the industry. These types of landscape changing laws with negative impact essentially begin and end with the United States' passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA).

UIGEA did not technically outlaw online gambling in one of the, if not the, most important market in the world but did make it illegal to transfer funds to online gambling sites, effectively rendering online gambling illegal and eliminating a potential billion dollar gambling market.

Product Specific Laws

Most recent federal gambling laws passed tend to cover online gambling regulation as a whole, like the Gambling Act 2005, as opposed to specifically regulating the many products within online gambling. In a few instances, though, the government's regulation either failed to account for a new or expanding online gambling product or needed further interpretation regarding an existing product. Ireland, as an example, needed additional legislation to regulate their horse-racing and greyhound gambling industry requiring the passing of the Horses and Greyhound Racing Act of 2001.

An example of a government needing further interpretation regarding an existing gambling product would be the United States' understanding of poker as a game of skill. New York, a prominent state in the US, ruled that although gambling is federally illegal, poker does not qualify as gambling because the amount of skill required to succeed implies its nature as a game mostly dependent on skill, not chance. This minor state level ruling actually significantly impacted the online gambling industry as it recreated a path to US poker players, something eliminated with UIGEA.

We again turn to the United States' complex gambling regulatory process for an additional example of a new or expanding gambling product forcing governing bodies to reevaluate their regulations. The recent explosion of Daily Fantasy has taken the US, Canada and their governments on a whirlwind experience.

UIGEA covered and essentially legalized Fantasy Sports but failed to realize this industry would transform from a year long invest of $100 by John Doe to $1,000,000 jackpots flooded with 'sharks' and 'whales' essentially rendering the whole industry rigged. This shift has forced the US government to reevaluate their understanding and regulation of Daily Fantasy, an ongoing adventure for our friends across the pond.

Regulatory Bodies

Designing and passing regulation for the gambling industry is the easy part, enforcing that regulation is the real key to gambling legality. Although most forms of gambling are illegal in the US, the United States accounted for roughly $21 billion worth of revenue in 2015, the second largest gambling revenue in the world only to China. So despite the outrageously complex and strict gambling regulations in the US, it's home to a gambling revenue market almost SEVEN TIMES the United Kingdom who only accounted for around $3.5 billion in 2015.

So it's easy to see why outside of federal law enforcement agencies, the gambling industry must turn to third party regulatory bodies to assist in ensuring all online gambling is practiced within the legal bounds of the country in which that gambling takes place. Most players familiar with online gambling will recognize the eCOGRA logo. It appears at the bottom of most topnotch gambling operators.

This third party agency ensures proper product and software fairness testing as well as concentrates on player protection and overall standards of the world's gambling industry. Regulatory bodies like eCOGRA are vital to gambling regulation enforcement as they work with country law enforcement to ensure the world of online gambling is safe and fair for all to enjoy.