Countries with Restrictive Gambling Laws
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Gambling in land-based casinos and online is one of the most thriving industries on the planet. However, that is not always the case. Depending on which jurisdiction is in question, gambling is sometimes very restrictive, even illegal. In this article, we look at the countries with restrictive gambling laws and how it is possible to gamble in them.

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Countries with Restrictive Gambling Laws

One of the oldest pastime activities in the world is gambling. It is believed to be as old as humankind itself. Whilst all of that may be true, gambling in certain countries is not always possible. In some countries, there are very harsh rules around gambling. In other countries, it is simply illegal.

Many countries have their concerns about gambling. The biggest concern is that it can lead to potential harms such as addiction. However, that is certainly one end of the scale. In other countries, gambling is not seen as a negative. It certainly has a dark side to it but with support, it is possible to gamble responsibly. When doing so, gambling can become an enjoyable pastime. Below, we take a look at several countries with restrictive gambling laws.


One of the most interesting countries to gamble in is Japan. For many years, gambling in Japan was seen as illegal. Japanese citizens and residents could not gamble at all. The only loophole was in the game of ‘Pachinko’.

What is Pachinko?

Pachinko is one of the oldest games in Japanese history. It is a mechanical arcade game that has a low-stake, low-strategy style to it. Although there were many question marks about Pachinko, the government could not forbid it. Perhaps the reason behind this is due to its cultural and historical significance.

In Japan, there are many Pachinko parlours. They look and operate in the same was as a land-based casino. It is not possible to exchange the Pachinko balls you win into cash. However, they can be exchanged for “special prize” tokens. After leaving the premises, it is possible to exchange these tokens at third parties for cash.

This makes the gambling scene in Japan rather peculiar. Whilst it is not permitted to win any hard cash from the Pachinko parlour, the balls can be exchanged for tokens and eventually cash.

Another loophole found in Japan is the racetracks. It is possible to bet on races using Off-Track Betting Facilities. This is not totally legal, but the Japanese government cannot do anything to stop it. It has been in operation for many years.

The Introduction of Casino Resorts

In 2016, the Resort Programme Law was introduced. This allowed land-based casinos to operate in Japan. However, they could only operate in resorts. To constitute a resort, the premises must have an entertainment venue, an international conference hall and a hotel. At the resort, it is possible to gamble.

Thus, land-based gambling in Japan is now legal, to a certain extent. In order to gamble, players must go to one of the resorts that have a casino. As for online casinos, they are still illegal in the country.

United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

Another country to look at is the United Arab Emirates. It is considered to be the most restricted country for gambling. In many Arabic states, gambling is legal, to a certain extent. However, in the United Arab Emirates, it is strictly forbidden. There is absolutely no tolerance for any form of gambling in the country.

What happens if you Gamble in UAE?

Unfortunately, if you gamble in the United Arab Emirates, you could be looking at a jail-time of up to two years. This goes for both land-based gambling or at offshore online casino sites. The United Arab Emirates are so against gambling, they even have a Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in place that actually prevents players from accessing the online casino sites.


Singapore is an interesting country when it comes to gambling regulations. Whilst gambling is considered legal, there are loopholes that accept gambling. The majority of them are owned and operated by the government.

To gamble in Singapore, players have to make their way to the only land-based casinos in the country. Both of those are found in Integrated Resorts. Much like Japan, it is only possible to legally gamble in a casino at a resort.

In addition, the government owns and operates a variety of gambling activities, such as TOTO, 4D or the Singapore Big Sweep. All of these are authorized as a Singapore gambling operator. If they are authorized, it is legal for Singapore citizens and residents to gamble. For instance, it is possible for player to buy 4D and TOTO lottery tickets if they purchase them from a public lottery. Purchasing them online is illegal.

If you prefer betting on sports, that is also legal in Singapore. Much like the TOTO, it is only possible if it is at a recognized gambling operator. There are three recognized sports betting panels in Singapore. They are known as the Singapore Pools, the Singapore Totalisator Board and the Singapore Turf Club.

Other than those options, it is illegal to bet on sports or buy lottery tickets in Singapore. Using any form of online gambling is illegal. If you want to play blackjack, you must make your way to one of the two resort sites.



One of the strictest countries in the world for gambling regulations is Qatar. Although the country hosted the 2022 World Cup, they have incredibly strict rules on gambling. It is a black and white country with no grey area. Gambling in Qatar is illegal.

Due to this, there is a thriving underground gambling scene in the country. Whilst that is incredibly illegal, it is thriving because there are not any gambling options. It is technically illegal to gamble online in Qatar. However, many people still do. This is because although there is no place for it, the government are not that interested in clamping down on any players that gamble in Qatar.


In Brunei, gambling is considered extremely illegal. So much so, the government issued the Common Gaming Houses Act legislation. The regulation states that all forms of gambling – both online and offline – are considered illegal. Chapter 28 in the Act states:

“common gaming house includes any place kept or used for gaming to which the public or any class of the public has or may have access and anyplace kept for habitual gaming whether the public or any class of the public has or may have access thereto or not and any place kept or used for the purpose of a public lottery; “lottery” includes any game, method or device whereby money or money’s worth is distributed or allotted in any manner depending upon or to be determined by chance or lot whether the same be held drawn, exercised or managed within or outside Brunei Darussalam;”

Thus, it is safe to say that when in Brunei, it is best to steer clear of gambling.


Not all Islamic states see gambling as absolutely illegal. There are some, like Lebanon, where gambling is possible. Although it is one of those countries with restrictive gambling laws, Lebanon actually tolerates gambling in certain places.

It is possible to gamble in a land-based casino at Casino du Liban in Jounieh. It is the only land-based casino that is authorized to operate in the country. As for online gambling, it is possible at designated online casinos. Thus, if you have found a casino here at JackpotFinder that can operate in Lebanon, you have found an authorized online casino. You can find our full list of the best jackpot sites over here.

The Casino du Liban has a ship that offers players a chance to gamble over international waters. If you are in Lebanon and wish to gamble, it is possible to jump aboard the Casino du Liban ship and play in a legal casino. This does not break any laws and is a fantastic addition by the casino.


In Cyprus, there are also many questions about gambling. Since the 2012 Betting Law, Cyprus allows terminal-based gaming and slots. Thus, whenever you are in Cyprus next, you will be able to find 50 machines that are available. These machines are found in the Melco Cyprus Resort. It is the only authorized premises to offer land-based gambling.

As for online gambling, only sports betting is legal. Any other form of casino gambling or poker gambling is strictly forbidden. The Cyprus sports betting market is packed with many different sports although dog and horse racing is illegal. Perhaps this is because there are animals involved and Cypriots do not appreciate that. It is possible to bet at terminals using OPAP, the state-s lottery and sports betting company from Greece.



One of the most interesting countries to make the list is Cambodia. Perhaps the reasons why this is interesting is because gambling is technically legal but only for some. In Cambodia, the Law on Suppression of Gambling was introduced in 1996. It was brought in because a massive number of players were reported to being addicted to gambling. The law made it illegal for Cambodian citizens to gamble.

 Whilst the thought of making something illegal to protect players is charming, the government then went on to introduce five private lotteries. What is the difference between the lotteries and gambling in general? The lotteries are operated by the government. In addition to the five government-operated lotteries, there is also a number of other government-sponsored gaming events that citizens can gamble on.

In Cambodia, citizens and tourists do not have the same right. If you are Cambodian citizen, you do not have the right to gamble in a casino. However, if you are a foreigner or a tourist, you can gamble at a casino. In October 2015, it was reported that there were 75 regulated casinos operating in the country. The casinos only accepts foreigners and tourists.

Cambodia also has a thriving underground gambling scene. It targets Cambodian citizens, as they do not have the same rights as others. In the underground scene, there are many things to bet on. An example of their diversity is cockfighting. Betting on cockfighting is completely illegal and is punishable by jail-time.


One of the only European countries to be listed here is Poland. The country was very gambling-friendly until the first Gambling Act was passed in 2009. It changed Polish law entirely and the views on gambling.

Thanks to the Gambling Act of 2009, it is possible to gamble with offshore operators but this falls into the category of the unregulated market. There was another gambling regulation introduced in April 2017, which required all international operators to apply for a sports betting license. Many online bookies could successfully operate in Poland legally with the addition of this sports betting license. However, online casinos and online poker is still illegal. In total, there are fifteen land-based casinos in the country.

North Korea

It should come as no surprise that gambling in North Korea is illegal. However, it is technically possible to gamble in a casino, if you are a tourist. There is only one casino in North Korea, located in the capital, Pyongyang. If you are a tourist, and can prove that you are part of a guided tour, it is possible to gamble at that casino.

How to Gamble Online

online gambling

Although it is difficult to gamble in many of the countries above, gambling online is always a way around it. Many countries have lenient rules for gambling online. Thus, if you are in a country that tolerates gambling online, it is possible to do so.

When gambling online, there are a variety of casinos you can choose. The majority of them will include a casino and a sportsbook. It is possible for sports bettors to find a variety of online bookmaker sites. As for casino players, many slots, table games and live dealer games are also available online.

If you want to play online, all you have to do is check out our jackpot games. This will take you to a site where you have a list of games to play. If the games are accepted at casinos that are legal in your country, you can play these games. To find out, simply click on a game and check the casinos that offers it. If you find one that is operational in your country, that is the casino to choose.

The Bottom Line

Whilst there are still many countries with restrictive gambling laws, there is almost always a solution to gambling online. In Qatar, for instance, gambling is technically illegal. However, there are many people that have gambled during the world cup and will continue to gamble online. This is because the country does not bother with players playing at online casino sites.

However, as we do not promote breaking the law, it is always best to find a solution for gambling in a legal way. Who knows? Next time you visit North Korea, be sure to stay on a tour guide that includes a visit to the only casino in Pyongyang. It will be a once in a lifetime experience!

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