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Is Sport Betting Legal?


Sports betting in may be very well known and very popular around the world but that does not necessarily mean that it is fully legal globally. Some countries and continents are very welcoming to the concept, while yet others see it as a sin and/or make it strictly punishable by law. In very large countries such as the US, it may even be the case that there are different rules across state borders where individuals within a few hundred miles of each other haver very different allowances or limitations when it comes to sports betting.

Taking the map continent by continent, here are the different rules on sports betting in each part of the globe:

The United States

Despite the fame ascribed to Las Vegas as gambler’s heaven, when it comes to sports betting, it was illegal up until 2018 when online wagering was legalized in general. Even so, only 22 states within the US currently have legal free reign to allow wagers on sports and, within that, Nevada is the freest state with online, mobile and physical wagers all being legal in the confines of its borders.


Europe is by far the most permissive area of the world when it comes to sports betting. The general market is regulated by an organisation called the EDBA, which covers both physical and online gambling establishments. Different countries have slight variations on the rules, but the general consensus is that bookies don’t face any trouble so long as they are licenced correctly and pay their fees and taxes consistently. The most permissive countries on the continent and, therefore, the places where sports betting is most successful are Britain, Italy and Belgium.


Sports gambling in Africa was not truly legalized until the 1990s, and countries on the continent that have a predominantly Muslim population still outlaw any and all forms of gambling. Central African countries, such as Kenya and Morocco are much more permissive but by far the most lenient country and the one where it is most profitable to engage in sports betting is South Africa. Sports betting was illegal in South Africa until 1996, with the introduction of the Gambling Act, which allows the government to carefully monitor gambling establishments but also allowed them to flourish, with Horse Racing being the most popular sport to bet on to date.


Relatively restrictive to sports betting overall, bookies may find some respite in Japan and a little in Hong Kong. Operating sports betting establishments in Japan requires adhering to incredibly strict and often draconian regulations. In Hong Kong, China, there are large monopolies in the football and horse racing betting markets making opportunities to be licenced incredibly unlikely.


Australia has similar regulations to Europe, with sports betting being largely legal within the confines of licencing regulations and if all betting takes place before the event starts. Other countries in the area have very different approaches, however. In Indonesia, all forms of gambling are outright illegal, while in Malaysia it is possible to bet online so long as the company taking the wagers is registered offshore. In the Philippines online sports betting and other gambling is allowed but it cannot take place on private property and must instead only be engaged in PAGCOR sanctioned outlets throughout the country.

If you’re interested in more facts about the legality of gambling in general, why not check out our article entitled, “Top Places Gambling is Illegal”.

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