Although the internet has a global audience, there is not a single piece of legislation that covers the legality of online gambling for the whole world. Instead, most countries have their own local laws with related legal and regulatory issues. These laws can vary widely from one region to the next, meaning what is legal and what is not entirely dependent on where you live. To make things even more complicated, many regions make regular changes to their legislation.
At we regularly provide information on all legal and regulatory developments within the industry and in this section of our website we provide updated information on online gambling laws in many different regions around the world. We also provide details on all of the major online gambling jurisdictions and the licensing authorities that regulate the online gambling industry. If you enjoy betting or gambling on the internet, it is important that you know this information.
What is an online gambling jurisdiction / licensing authority?
There are certain regions of the world that have specific legislation that allows them to license and regulate companies that operate online gambling sites or provide services (e.g. providing gaming software). These regions are called online gambling jurisdictions or licensing jurisdictions. In these countries there is usually an organization that is responsible for issuing licenses and regulating licensees. These organizations are commonly known as regulatory agencies.
In order for an online gambling site to legally offer services to its customers, it should hold a betting or gaming license that is issued by a proper licensing authority. A site usually has to put at least part of its operations in the jurisdiction in which it wishes to be licensed, which means that gambling sites choose their location almost entirely according to the legislation under which they are then liable.
How does online gambling legislation & regulation affect you?
The majority of online gambling legislation affects companies that provide betting and gaming services over the internet and it is very unusual for a country’s government to make it explicitly illegal for its residents to use such services. Still, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with tips for playing poker at a casino and the relevant laws in your country because you obviously don’t want to unknowingly break the law.
We also recommend that you read up on the legal practices within the various jurisdictions. Some jurisdictions are very strict, in fact, while others are much more relaxed. This means that not all operators are subject to the same standard of regulation, which is something you may want to consider when choosing which websites to use. It can be an advantage to use websites that are approved in the stricter jurisdictions.
Online Gambling Jurisdictions & Regulatory Agencies
Alderney is one of the most respected online gambling jurisdictions. The licensing authority is the Alderney Gaming Control Commission (AGCC) and they have very strict rules and regulations for their licensees. A variety of the best general-purpose sites are licensed by the AGCC, which usually guarantees that they are reputable.
Antigua and Barbados
As a popular part of the world for offshore banking, Antigua and Barbados were among the first areas to establish itself as an online gambling jurisdiction. The Antigua Directorate of Offshore Gambling began issuing licenses to gambling and sports betting companies in 1994, and at one point it had more licensees than any other licensing authority in the industry.
Belize was also an early starter in the industry. The country introduced the Computer Wagering License Act in 1996 to provide a legal framework for the issuing of licenses, and the Belize Computer Wagering License Board was established to approve and regulate licensees. Changes have been made to licensing requirements over the years, including a significant reduction in related fees.
Costa Rica is home to many companies in the online gambling industry. Despite this fact, there is actually very little standing in the way of legislation. Businesses must be licensed to operate legally from within the region, but certain wagering and gambling licenses are not required. All you need is a general license that is relatively easy to obtain. Overall, the regulation here is pretty poor.
Previously part of the Netherlands Antilles, Curacao is now an independent country. Online gambling is one of the core industries in the country and it began licensing betting and gambling companies in 1996. At that time the Curacao e-Gaming Licensing Authority was formed. As one of the oldest companies of its kind, the agency grants a single master license to authorized operators that covers all forms of gambling.
Online gambling licenses are issued in Cyprus by the Ministry of Finance . Since 2012, most of the companies in this jurisdiction have been licensed, with the exception of bingo providers. It was then that the laws were changed so that the only forms of gambling that were allowed were fixed-probability sports betting and lottery games.
Gibraltar has developed a reputation as one of the leading online gambling jurisdictions. It started licensing the gaming sector in 1998 and since then many of the leading brands have decided to anchor their operations in the region. The strict regulations ensure that licenses from Gibraltar are highly regarded.
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man has well-established licensing legislation for online betting and gambling companies. Licenses are issued by the Gambling Supervision Commission and the requirements for licensing are very strict. The existing regulatory framework enables the licensees to be closely monitored in order to ensure their compliance with the relevant legal provisions.
Kahnawake is a Native American reservation in Canada. It is one of the first online gambling jurisdictions to exist and it is home to several well-known operators. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission was founded in 1998 and began licensing sports betting and gaming companies the following year. It regulates all forms of gambling and works closely with several other licensing authorities around the world.
Malta is one of the largest online gambling jurisdictions within the European Union and started early to enact laws dealing with in-house betting and gambling. The Lotteries & Gaming Authority (LGA) is responsible for all regulation and licensing in the region and it reviews all potential licensees prior to approval.
Laws for the licensing of online betting and gambling companies were introduced in Panama in 2002 in the form of the Online Gaming Act. Regulation is driven by the Panama Gaming Control Board and involves overseeing licensees to ensure that they are operating to acceptable standards.