Over the years, gambling has established itself as one of the most popular pastime activities globally. No doubt, the widespread availability of the internet is one of the biggest drivers of the popularity of gambling as it boosted accessibility to online casinos and sportsbooks. Today, millions of gamblers can easily play casino online games and bet on sports from the comfort of their homes. 

However, not every country is as receptive to the activity as literal gambling havens like Macau and Malta. In many countries, gambling culprits face hefty fines and even years in prison, depending on the severity of the offence and the laws of the land. Some of the countries with the strictest gambling regulations today are:


Of all the countries in the Middle East, there’s a good chance that the United Arab Emirates isn’t one of the countries you would expect to find in this list. The UAE is viewed by many as the most progressive country in the Middle East, but it seems like gambling is where they draw the line. Despite it having a relatively booming underground gambling market, should you be found participating in gambling activities in the UAE, you could face up to two years in prison.

2. The United States of America

Boy, oh boy, if the UAE’s inclusion came as a shocker to you, then this one must have left you stunned. What is the “land of the free” doing here, yet it’s home to world-renowned gambling meccas like Las Vegas and Atlantic City? Well, that’s because different states in the USA have different gambling stances. For example, states like Utah and Hawaii have a blanket ban on all forms of gambling. In contrast, the likes of Georgia, Guam and Vermont only allow charitable games and state lotteries. However, the situation is rapidly changing across different US states as legislators are increasingly embracing the idea of regulating gambling to win taxable income for state coffers.

3. India

India’s case can somehow be equated to the USA’s case. This is because it is also divided into states that have independent laws regarding gambling. There is, nonetheless, a consensus among most of those states. Most of them do not allow gambling. They, however, do allow sports betting and lotteries. The only few exceptions that allow casino gambling includes a state like Goa.

4. Japan

Owing to how much Japan prides itself in keeping in touch and maintaining its traditions and customs, it is no surprise that it finds itself on this list. The country is pretty strict on gambling on what you’d perceive as the usual online games. However, it does not frown upon gambling on certain traditional games like Pachinko due to their cultural significance. But then again, the country is also warming up to the idea with plans to construct integrated casino resorts in different cities within the next decade.

5. Cambodia

Gambling became a huge problem in Cambodia, with the country battling widespread addiction among much of its younger population. It was a big issue, so much so that it was banned in all forms in the country in 1996.  It is, however, legal to gamble for external tourists, and indeed there are some casinos specifically dedicated to this cause.

6. Lebanon

If you take some time to find out, you’ll notice that practically every middle eastern country has outlawed gambling. It should, therefore, not come as a surprise to anyone of the strict gambling laws in Lebanon. While most gambling is illegal, the government permits just one online and one land-based casino to operate.

7. Singapore

Singapore is one of the hardest hitters on this list. So much so that gambling could land you in huge trouble that could see you parting with tons of money in fines. The Singapore remote gambling act prohibits any form of online gambling. Still, as is the case with most countries on this list, there is an exception of some government-run casinos being allowed to operate.

8. Qatar

Another middle eastern country to find itself on the list. In Qatar, all forms of gambling are considered to be illegal. Despite this fact, there is indeed a booming underground market of gambling that is thriving right under the government’s nose. However, this is a pretty risky affair as it may turn out badly should you get caught.

9. Cyprus

Cyprus has an elaborate gambling law that permits gambling mostly in a limited capacity. For starters, terminal gaming and slots gambling are allowed in Cyprus for up to 50 machines. In addition, the Melco Cyprus resort is the only land-based casino in the country where table games are allowed. There is, however, a glimmer of a bright light amid the tight restrictions with sports betting being permitted on the online front.

10. Mainland China

In China, casinos and most forms of gambling are prohibited by law, except for a state-run lottery. If you get caught operating a casino in China or facilitating for locals to gamble offshore, you’ll be hit with a massive fine and up to 10 years in prison. Chinese citizens are, nevertheless, allowed to obtain a visa to go to Macau, China’s special administrative region where gambling is legal and thriving.

Final Word

If you are an avid gambling fan and are thinking of travelling to another country, it’d be wise to look at its gambling laws before the visit. Gain some perspective on whether gambling for fun to take a breather may land you into trouble there.

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