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OPINION: Gambling laws around the world: Five countries that are getting it wrong

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 29 – Gambling is one of the most popular pastimes in the world, garnering billions of dollars of revenue every year.

In countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States, gambling is seen as a key cornerstone of the economy and well respected as a result, however that it is not the case everywhere.

Many countries have a negative view of gambling and as such are missing out on the employment opportunities offered by the sector and its impressive tax revenues.

In this article we’ll look at 5 countries who are missing out on the benefits of a flourishing, well-regulated gambling industry.


The USA’s southern neighbour has packed a lot of upheaval into the last 150 years with the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1920 being perhaps the most significant moment in the country’s modern history.

Following the revolution there was a conscious effort on behalf of Mexican lawmakers to shake off the remnants of colonial rule which meant eradicating many European imports. Catholicism was the most high-profile cultural phenomenon to be targeted by the government and so too was gambling which was viewed as a French import.

In 1947, Mexico’s prohibitive gambling laws were relaxed slightly allowing for the growth of some small-scale gambling facilities. These somewhat draconian laws remained in place until 2004 when the then Mexican government finally conceded that the country’s gambling laws were punitive and outdated.

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One area of the gambling industry that was not expressly covered by the 2004 relaxation in regulations was the online industry. This failure in legislation has led to an almost non-existent domestic online gambling industry in the country.

If Mexicans are looking to enjoy the buzz of playing with a great online casino their options are limited to foreign companies who do not pay their taxes in Mexico. As such, millions of dollars in potential tax revenues leave Mexico every year.

Rather than looking to relax their own laws surrounding online gambling, Mexican lawmakers are rumoured to be looking into technology that would allow the government to block all online gambling transactions in the country.



In a recent survey 57% of adults aged over 18 in Kenya reported to having enjoyed at least one bet in the past. Sports betting is the poison of choice for gamblers in Kenya with 88% of gamblers aged 25-34 in the country admitting to betting on the English Premier League on their mobile devices.

Similarly, to Mexico, Kenya is missing out on lucrative online gambling tax revenues but not because of a ban on the online sector but because of punitive registration and licensing costs. Under the terms of a recent Gaming Bill it was agreed that iGaming operators would be charged an extra KES94million for a three-year online gambling licence (an almost 50% increase.)

As a direct result of these staggering licensing costs many homegrown iGaming companies in the country are simply ceasing to operate, opening up the door for foreign (mainly British) online gambling companies to swoop in and reap the financial rewards of Kenya’s online market.

Sites in the UK like 888 Casino operate legally and responsibility, helping to contribute significantly to the UK’s economy while offering their customers exceptional online casino.

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Dubai is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world for European and American celebrities and business moguls. The exact type of people that you could correctly term as ‘high-rollers’.

Unfortunately, if these visitors have a penchant for gambling, they won’t be able to enjoy a flutter online or at a land-based casino in Dubai. That’s because gambling is completely outlawed altogether in the UAE, with the exception of some forms of sports betting, and carries a possible two-year prison term for players and a ten-year custodial sentence for providers.

These laws aren’t tokenistic either, they’re strictly enforced, so if you’re planning a trip to Dubai soon don’t risk having a quick bet even on your own mobile phone.

South Korea

Gambling is incredibly popular in South Korea and is great destination for foreign gambling tourists. There are 23 excellent casinos scattered throughout the country to enjoy, but only one of them – situated 55 miles from Pyeongchang – is accessible to South Korean citizens.

Gambling is seen as a social issue in South Korea and as such the government strictly prohibits where and how its citizens can place bets. The authorities do recognise the economic benefits of gambling and as such have allowed 22 casinos to open and offer their services to overseas visitors.

The government, however, don’t want their own citizens gambling, unless it’s at the remote and hard to access Kangwon Land Casino & Hotel. South Korea’s gambling laws are so strict in fact that citizens can be prosecuted for casino gambling even if they’re abroad and playing in a country where gambling is legal.

Northern Ireland

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The UK is often touted as the beacon of gambling freedom as almost every form of gambling is legal and regulated in the country. But, there’s a problem with that belief and it’s called Northern Ireland.

As one of the four nations that comprise the United Kingdom you would think that Northern Ireland would follow the same rules and regulations as Westminster, but that is simply not the case. Many legislative decisions taken in Westminster are regularly rejected by the Stormont government, including the rest of the UK’s gambling regulations.

There are now casinos in the traditional sense of the word in Northern Ireland with gamblers in Ulster restricted to amusement style gambling venues with no table games and only electronic betting terminals.

In addition to this, poker is strictly outlawed in the six counties of Northern Ireland. Organising private poker games or even just playing in them can be punished by the full force of the law. In 2011 two brothers from Derry were found guilty of organising an illegal poker evening and were handed two-year suspended sentences from the courts.

The UK laws are a great basis for other countries to build their new laws around, as it has shown to be a safe and reputable way of managing gambling.



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