25/02/2022

Are Online Casinos Illegal in Asia?

Online gambling is a concept that is becoming increasingly popular all over the world, but unfortunately, gambling on the internet isn’t legal everywhere. In most cases, it is legal to gamble but illegal to run a gambling operation, but this can differ depending on where you are located. What are the rules in Asia? Are online casinos illegal?

Considering how big Asia is and how many countries and territories it holds, there is no quick or simple answer, and we are going to have to dig a little deeper this time to find out what the rules are for online casinos in Asia.

Lao Xin Yi
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Introduction

Introduction

While this is something you might already know, we still want to start with the basics for those who are new to online gambling and the casino world. An online casino is a website that offers gambling opportunities such as slots, lotteries, bingo, poker, blackjack and other types of games, and where you deposit real money with the hopes to win.

You create a casino account, verify it by following the prompted steps, make a deposit using the payment method of your choice and then you are ready to start choosing from a game catalogue that often consists of hundreds of different casino games.

The online casino industry is closely regulated and there are casinos based all over the world, and the benefit they bring is that you can play from the comfort of your home, even in areas where there might not be any land-based casinos.

The Basics of Gambling in Asia

The Basics of Gambling in Asia

is gambling legal

A General Look at Gambling in Asia

Asia is a very large continent, and over 60% of the world’s total population resides in different parts of Asia. This is a part of the globe that has many developed economies and that is known for their technology, and it comes as no surprise that it is an attractive market for the casino industry, and especially online casinos.

Unfortunately, both for players and providers, the gambling laws in many parts of Asia are very strict, and this can make running a casino business almost impossible. Perhaps you live somewhere where casinos aren’t available, and you would like to find a way to still play your favourite casino games? You might have considered joining an online casino.

Before you do, it is important to take some time to look into whether online gambling is an option for you, as you wouldn’t want to break the law and get yourself in trouble, as this would defeat the purpose of spending some time relaxing while gambling online.

How Local Laws Affect Asian Online Casinos

One thing many prospective gamblers ask is whether gambling is legal in their country of residence, and their concern is valid considering the importance of abiding to local laws and regulations. Let’s say gambling is banned in your country—how does this affect you as an online casino gambler if the casino is registered abroad?

You could say that this is a loophole in the law used by many gamblers from countries where land-based gambling is illegal. The reason is that if an online casino is licensed and registered somewhere else, in a different country, then it usually isn’t affected by the laws set by the country which you are in. Sounds complicated? Bear with us.

A local government has little to no control over what their residents do on the internet, and most gambling laws are aimed at gambling providers rather than those who play. That said, this can vary from country to country and some countries in Asia are actively trying to restrict and combat online gambling.

This article is not meant to encourage anyone to break any laws or go against set regulations and/or restrictions, and we encourage you to do extra research if you are unsure of what applies in your country.

Gambling Laws in Different Asian Countries

Gambling Laws in Different Asian Countries

Asia is a big continent, and different rules and regulations apply depending on the area you are located in. Laws can also differ from state to state within the same country, and it is always a good idea to do your research before you start gambling.

We have compiled a list of country specific gambling rules, so go ahead and have a look at the country you are curious about, or the one where you are currently residing.

gambling china

China

In mainland China, it is legal to play on any of the two national lotteries held by the Chinese government, but online gambling is considered illegal. Any type of poker playing applications (including online casinos with poker) have also been banned since 2018, when app stores like the Apple Store and Google Play Store were forced to remove these apps from the Chinese market.

Running a gambling business or casino is punishable by either hefty fines or even imprisonment, and while the Chinese government has used the Great Firewall of China to try and restrict access to online casinos for those living in the country, their attempts have so far been unsuccessful.

gambling hong kong

Hong Kong

While Hong Kong is not a fully independent country, it does operate like one and therefore has some laws and regulations that differ from the rest of China. This is true also for different types of gambling.

Horse racing and sports betting is allowed as long as they fall under the Hong Kong Jockey Club jurisdiction, but any type of gambling that has not been authorised by the government is considered illegal. This makes online casinos illegal in Hong Kong too, just like in China, and you cannot legally run an online gambling site.

gambling india

India

The only states in India where gambling is fully legal are Daman, Sikkim, and Goa, where you can even visit land-based casinos if you prefer! Gambling and online casinos remain illegal in the rest of the country, despite popularity spiking for online games and betting opportunities.

Interestingly, it is only illegal to run a casino operation in India, and the law does not tend to be enforced on gamblers who gamble at off-shore online casinos. Most online casinos are located abroad in countries like Malta, and Indian players can gamble at these without having to worry about legal repercussions.

gambling bangladesh

Bangladesh

You won’t find gambling sites from Bangladesh, as all gambling except for national lotteries and horse racing is prohibited, but gamblers from Bangladesh can use online casino websites that originate from other countries, as these are not regulated by the Bangladesh government.

The punishment for being involved in illegal gambling can be either a prison sentence of up to 3 months, or a fine, but as long as the online casino you use is located off-shore and in another country, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

gambling japan

Japan

Japan passed a law in 2016 that was intended to regulate and ultimately legalise gambling in the country, and while it is now legal to participate in gambling related activities, they are still hammering out the fine print. The first Japanese casino located in Japan is expected to open its doors in 2022.

The gambling market has expanded rapidly in Japan in recent years, and you have nothing to worry about when gambling at online casinos. At the moment, most (if not all) online casinos you find will be located abroad, but we might be able to expect Japanese online casinos further down the line.

gambling indonesia

Indonesia

Indonesia has some of the strictest gambling laws in Asia, and all types of gambling is prohibited and a direct violation of Indonesia law. While many Asian countries allow national lotteries and horse racing, none of these are permitted in Indonesia.

In fact, the government constantly threatens to take action against gamblers, but so far it hasn’t stopped Indonesian casino players from using foreign casino sites to satisfy their urges to play slots, table games and more.

gambling macau

Macau

In Macau, you can play casino games legally, as gambling is legal both to host and to participate in as you see fit. Gambling at foreign online casinos is also legal (further differentiating Macau from mainland China), and people from all over China travel to Macau to get a chance to visit real casinos.

Known as the gambling capital of the East, Macau is a dream for casino lovers, but it should be mentioned that some of their casinos have gotten in trouble in the past for unfair gaming practises, false advertising and more. This, however, does not affect online casino gamblers as most online casinos are based elsewhere.

gambling lebanon

Lebanon

Here we have a bit of a special case where gambling is legal, but only through Casino du Liban—a Lebanese casino operator. No foreign casino operators are allowed, but rumour has it that Casino du Liban might be on the hunt for a foreign business partner, which could indicate that the country’s gambling laws will become less restrictive in the future.

You can generally still gamble at foreign online gambling sites, as the existing laws and regulations are aimed more at those who provide casino services, rather than those who play the games.

gambling kazakhstan

Kazakhstan

For those who like land-based casinos, Kazakhstan has two different areas dedicated to gambling. Gambling is legal but currently only officially present in the Almaty region and Akmola region, and more specifically, on the Kapchagai reservoir coast and in the Shuchinskiy district.

Online gambling is not affected or even really touched by Kazakhstan gambling law, and playing casino games online via foregn casinos has grown in popularity in recent years.

gambling philippines

Philippines

The Philippines is one of Asia’s most profitable gambling markets, and land-based gambling is controlled by two main government bodies known as PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) and the Cagayan Freeport region. The latter focuses mostly on gambling experiences aimed at tourists.

Neither of the two have opposed online gambling at this point and players in the Philippines can legally gamble both in-country and at online casinos located abroad in other countries (which is the case with most online gambling sites).

gambling vietnam

Vietnam

Gambling at land-based casinos was illegal for locals during many years, yet tourists were allowed to gamble and casinos aimed at tourists could legally operate. As of late 2017, locals are also allowed to gamble provided they meet certain requirements, such as being over the age of 21, have their family members permission and make a set minimum amount of money per month.

Online casino gambling was always allowed in a sense that it wasn’t illegal, as off-shore online casinos weren’t (and still aren’t) affected by rules and regulations set in Vietnam.

gambling taiwan

Taiwan

The only type of in-land gambling that is allowed in Taiwan is the national lottery, and all other gambling and casino related activities are banned. The good news is that online gamblers are perfectly safe, as the Taiwan government has not set out to block or in any way interfere with online casinos.

This has created an increased interest in online gambling for those who are generally curious about casino games like slots, table games and live casino as it offers Taiwanese players the opportunity to gamble without risking legal consequences.

gambling south korea

South Korea

Gambling in South Korea can be a bit of a hassle if you are a local, as all casino gambling is banned except for national lotteries. However, gambling is not banned for tourists and there are around 16 casinos available for tourists visiting South Korea, and these are usually located at tourist resorts or inside hotels.

Interestingly, gambling is only prohibited on paper and not necessarily actively enforced, and despite online casinos also being banned by the South Korea government, it is still possible to gamble at foreign casinos even though the process of depositing and withdrawing money can be somewhat complex.

gambling thailand

Thailand

National lotteries and horse betting are legal, and casinos with licences obtained in another country are also able to operate. There isn’t usually an issue for players in Thailand to use online casinos as most of these are run overseas, but for those who want to play at land-based casinos, it has become common to travel to Laos, Myanmar or Cambodia.

Simply put, gambling and online casinos aren’t fully legal as there are still many restrictions in place, but Thailand has significantly less strict laws than other countries like China, South Korea and Indonesia.

gambling united arab emirates

UAE

Last but not least, the United Arab Emirates. Gambling is strictly prohibited in the UAE, and this includes any type of gambling related activity such as betting and lotteries. Online casinos can still be accessed by those residing in the UAE, but the government is working actively to seek out and eventually ban online gambling websites.

The Future of Asian Online Gambling

What the Future of Asian Online Gambling Looks Like

By looking at recent developments on the Asian gambling market, we can possibly predict the direction in which things are headed. Many countries have gotten rid of some of their gambling restrictions in recent years, and gambling (both land-based and online) is now legal in more Asian countries than it used to be.

Good examples are countries where gambling started out as being illegal, then became legal only for tourists, only to recently open up also to local gamblers such as in Vietnam. The steps are small in many cases, but overall we are looking at positive change.

A Market with Potential

Considering how big Asia is and how much interest there is in gambling, it is certainly an unexplored and underestimated market in many ways. The existing gambling restrictions prevent gambling organisations from establishing their business on Asian territory, and especially due to the uncertainty of laws that seem to be changing constantly.

The future of land-based gambling in Asia is uncertain at this point, especially in the areas with strict gambling restrictions, but online gambling is likely to continue being an option in most Asian countries. Make no mistake—some governments are actively trying to restrict it, but it is unlikely that they will be successful.

Conclusion

A Few Things You Should Keep in Mind

By doing your research, it becomes easier to make the decision of whether online gambling is right for you. Strict gambling laws can affect online gambling and online casinos located abroad, but in most cases—as can be seen in this article—it does not. This means you might be able to enjoy the benefits of online gambling even if land-based gambling is prohibited.

Online casinos aren’t usually affected by local laws provided they are based outside Asia, which most online casinos are at this point due to the existing restrictions in the majority of Asian countries. However, this does not apply to every Asian country and proper research should be done before you decide to join an online casino.

If you are visiting an Asian country hoping to gamble online, it is even more important to be aware of the local rules and regulations, as these could apply also to tourists and not only to those who are local. Use this article as a base for future research, but make sure to double-check that the information provided here remains accurate at the time of your trip.

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