Top 8 Countries Where Gambling Is Illegal

Table of Contents

Gambling is a staple of many vibrant cities around the world. For better or worse, some people find the thrill of the unknown and the potential of a big win too great of a temptation to resist. As such, these feelings can lead to unhealthy habits that are harmful not only to the individual but the people around them.

While a lot of countries trust in people’s self-control and better judgment to combat developing gambling addiction, some nations opt to partially or fully ban the activity. But what countries ban gambling?

In this article, we take a look at 8 of the biggest anti-gambling countries in the world and touch upon how these laws came to pass.

1. Poland

Although not outright banned, Poland has strict inhibitions on gambling, both offline and online. The Polish government has supervision of all official gambling platforms, which includes casinos and online betting sites. In a way, the government has a monopoly on gambling.

Individual gambling platforms gain their legitimacy by obtaining a license directly from the Polish Minister of Finance. Gaining this license is a lengthy procedure and may take up to half a year to obtain. There are three main acts that regulate gambling in Poland, which are the following:

  1. Gambling Act of Poland
  2. Law on the National Tax Administration
  3. Fiscal Penal Code

2. Singapore

Any form of gambling in Singapore that does not have a license to operate or isn’t an exceptional case is prohibited in Singapore. Similarly to Poland, the government of Singapore enforces strict gambling laws and supervises all forms of legal betting.

Singapore’s Gambling Regulatory Authority is the sole body that has the right to oversee betting processes and regulate places such as casinos to keep them running. The main laws regulating gambling in Singapore are the following:

  1. The Betting Act
  2. Common Gaming Houses Act
  3. Casino Control Act
  4. Remote Gambling Act
  5. Gambling Regulatory Authority of Singapore Act

3. Pakistan

In Pakistan, most forms of gambling are illegal, as is the case with most Muslim-majority countries. Shari’ah law forbids games of chance (maisr) in Islam, and Pakistan included its enforcement on a governmental level in 1991. However, online betting is rarely penalised and many betting websites allow players from Pakistan to participate.

The reason why not all games of chance are outlawed is that some forms of betting aren’t seen as gambling in Pakistan. These include horse racing and lottery. For all other forms, the following laws strictly regulate gambling activities:

  • The Prevention of Gambling Act
  • Penal Code of Pakistan
  • Islamic Shari’ah Law

4. South Korea

Gambling is strictly prohibited to all citizens of South Korea and anyone who participates despite this is heavily penalized. Both offline and online forms of betting are outlawed and unruly Koreans who want to participate need to open offshore accounts to do so.

Although Korean citizens aren’t allowed to gamble, there are still 18 casinos in South Korea opened just for tourists. The only place where denizens may gamble is Kangwon Land Casino.

5. Japan

Japan has a general ban on gambling, although there are exemptions to the rule. The country has a long history of gambling prohibition, but recently there have been instances of leniencies. This resulted in allowing the building of the country’s first casino.

Although gambling is heavily supervised in Japan, sports betting, Pachinko, and card games are generally allowed. This easing up on the rules is mostly a conscious effort by the Japanese government to boost tourism and generate extra revenue.

6. Thailand

In Thailand, games of chance are prohibited, with the exceptions of the national lottery and betting on official horse track racing venues for both denizens and tourists. Online gambling is a murkier topic: Thailand doesn’t outright disallow playing on online casinos and placing bets on sites, but local officials may still enforce the general gambling law on online bettors.

Thailand and its culture are heavily rooted in Buddhist values and Precepts. Although Buddhism doesn’t forbid gambling itself, it views greed as an essential part of the activity which goes against Dharmic teachings. This is the main reason why the government places such harsh laws on gambling.

7. United Arab Emirates

Like all Islamic countries, the United Arab Emirates also has a strict stance on gambling. However, unlike most Islamic countries, the United Arab Emirates bans and penalizes all forms of gambling, including online betting. This is enforced by Penal Code 414 which states players caught red-handed can serve up to two years in jail.

As of 2023, both tourists and denizens were prohibited from gaming of all forms. However, in September of that year, the Emirati government started to make plans to legalize gambling. The main incentive behind this decision is mostly the positive effect such legalizations have on the country’s tourist flow and revenue. The decision was faced with pushback by more traditionalist voices.

8. China

The biggest country that either bans or inhibits all forms of gambling is undoubtedly China. This prohibition dates back to 1949 when the Communist Party came into power. Ever since then, opening casinos and betting online have been illegal in the country. Despite this, China’s gambling scene isn’t exactly small thanks to the centrally operated Welfare Lottery and the state-authorized Sports Lottery.

Both of these forms of betting are largely similar to other lotteries and sports betting with the exception that both are completely controlled by the Chinese government. The state does not view these activities as gambling and as of 2023, these are the only legal games of chance.

Online gambling is similarly illegal, but the government does not go out of its way to enforce the law on that platform. Banning certain websites is the only effort the state makes most of the time, and even then some platforms evade this block.

So there you have it! These are some of the biggest countries where you should be at the very least mindful of local gambling laws. It’s important to be respectful of each nation’s customs, so follow the rules if you plan to visit one of them.

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