Where is Gambling Illegal?: 10 Countries You Can’t Gamble In

Gambling has long been a fun and thrilling way to pass the time — but not everywhere.

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People have been gambling for thousands of years, and it’s still a thriving industry today, across most of the world. However, there are still some countries where casino and sports betting gambling is completely illegal, and where it’ll likely remain illegal.

Some countries strictly regulate gambling, even applying a tax on winnings, whereas others outlaw any form of gambling, with some countries having strict penalties for those who are caught gambling.

Here are 10 countries where you cannot gamble:

1) North Korea

As you would expect, North Korea has completely outlawed all forms of gambling. The country is still a dictatorship under Kim Jong Un, who runs the country under strict communist rule. The country strictly forbids all forms of land-based and online gambling. This rule applies to all North Korean citizens. However, those who visit the country on a tour have the option of playing at the country’s only casino, which is located in Pyongyang.

2) Cambodia

Cambodia is a country with stunning scenery, such as the famous ancient site, Angkor Wat. The country was once home to many casinos where locals would spend lots of time, hoping to walk away with a profit. However, this became a problem for the residents as the country was soon plagued with a gambling problem.

In 1996, the government suppressed all acts of gambling in the country. The Cambodian government only allows gambling within its five, privately run, national lotteries. However, those who are tourists can still gamble, with casinos located around popular tourist destinations within the country.

3) United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a strict Islamic country that outlaws all forms of gambling. The UAE is one of the strictest countries when it comes to a ban on gambling. Any person found gambling, whether local or foreign, will face a serious penalty if caught gambling.

The strict Islamic laws will see any person gambling face up to two years in jail under the Penal Code’s Article 414. What’s more, you cannot access online gambling sites from within the country.

4) Brunei

Brunei is another Islamic country that has strict laws against any form of gambling. The country has the Common Gaming House Act in place that prohibits all types of gambling. You can also face a serious penalty if you are caught gambling.

pachinko parlor in tokyo japan

A pachinko parlor is seen from a bus, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. The pandemic-delayed 2020 Summer Olympics are schedule to open on July 23 with spectators banned from most Olympic events due to COVID-19 surge. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

5) Japan

Japan is a country that likes to indulge in many pleasures, but gambling is not one of them. All types of gambling have been recently restricted for all residents.

However, a game called Pachinko is the exception to the rule, and the country has various parlors throughout.

What’s more, there are multiple race tracks within the country that are controlled by the government or the Japan Racing Association. There are also some legal off-track betting facilities for those who cannot get to the racetrack. Additionally, there are sports betting and land-based casino games that are permitted thanks to the Integrated Resort Promotion Act of 2016. This means casinos can operate within resorts, as long as other entertainment venues are in existence.

When it comes to gambling online, this is completely outlawed in Japan. However, many residents of Japan choose to bypass these strict laws by using a VPN and playing on offshore regulated crypto casinos that accept players from Japan.

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6) Singapore

Singapore is another country where gambling activities are restricted. The country has a public lottery that is regulated by the Common Gaming Houses Act. The law prevents all lotteries, bingo halls, terminal-based gaming, and machine-based games from operating unless special permission is granted.

Land-based sports betting establishments are also illegal in Singapore. However, the Betting Act allows for exceptions to the main gambling operators (Singapore Pools, Singapore Totalisator Board and Singapore Turf Club).

Singapore's president Tony Tan presents the winning trophy to Australian jockey Tommy Berry

Singapore’s president Tony Tan presents the winning trophy to Australian jockey Tommy Berry who rides horse Dan Excel after he won the Singapore International Cup horse race at the Singapore Turf Club on Sunday, May 18, 2014 in Singapore. Seen behind is horse owner David Boehm, second right, and horse trainer John Moore, right. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Singapore only has two land-based casinos, which generate considerable revenue and are fully regulated under the Casino Control Act. The law basically outlaws all forms of gambling, except where special permission is granted. Furthermore, Singapore’s Remote Gambling Act allows the Singapore Turf Club and Singapore Pools to operate legally.

7) Cyprus

The Mediterranean Island of Cyprus also has laws that restrict certain forms of gambling. The country allows online sports betting but does not allow online casino play. The 2012 Betting Law governs all forms of gambling on the island, and slot and terminal-based casino gambling allow up to 50 machines. You can only find land-based casino tables in the Melco Cyprus Resort.

8) Qatar

Qatar has a no-nonsense policy on all forms of gambling, making it the strictest country to outlaw gambling. Every form of gambling is illegal, including sports betting. A full ban on gambling has created an underbelly of illegal gambling that is thriving outside of the law. However, if you are caught partaking in any form of gambling, then there is a heavy price to pay.

Online gambling is also illegal but thanks to certain technologies, many of those based in the country choose to partake by accessing offshore online gaming sites. Moreover, thanks to cryptocurrencies, it’s made it possible to enjoy a full online gambling experience without compromise.

9) Lebanon

Lebanon also lays down strict anti-gambling laws, with all forms of gambling considered completely illegal unless authorized by the government. The Lebanese government also has the power to restrict all online gambling sites too. There is only one land-based casino in the entire country where gambling is fully permitted, and this is the Casino du Liban in Jounieh.

There is also a casino ship that takes players to international waters where those on board can enjoy all the wonderful casino entertainment without being at risk of breaking the law.

10) Poland

Poland is one of many European Union countries where land-based and online gambling has been legal in the past. However, gambling activities have been controlled by a strict government monopoly.

The 2009 Act on Gambling came into play and saw amendments bring the laws in line with European standards. In 2017, new regulations came into place that required an international operator to apply for betting licenses, while other casino games are provided by the country’s gambling monopoly. Although online gambling operators cannot operate out of the country, residents of Poland can still find ways to play online casino games.

Although there are many laws in place to stop those based in these countries from gambling, there are always ways around it. The introduction of crypto casinos means players no longer need to go through strict verification processes, and with Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology, you can access and gamble at an online casino site from almost anywhere in the world. You should always abide by the rules when it comes to gambling or risk punishment. The gambling laws are always changing, with the United States only recently allowing online casino gambling, with many new states relaxing their online gambling laws.

James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro GambleOnline.co about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virgina and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

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