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Cruise Ship Casinos And Gambling

Because a cruise ship sails in international waters, then cruise ship gambling and casinos don’t fall under the same regulations you’ll come across on dry land. Although this sounds quite straightforward, there is one golden rule that affects gambling at cruise ship casinos. And that is that the ship is considered to be an extension of the country under whose flag it sails. And then we have an exception to this rule. Which happens when the ship sails into another country’s territorial waters. Confused? We certainly are. So we thought that we’d take a look into the rules and regulations surrounding gambling on cruise ships.

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The Laws About Gambling At Sea

If you take a look at maritime law, then you’ll see that the gambling laws whilst the ships are at sea are, on the whole, governed by the nation from which the ship is registered. Unfortunately, things are not quite so straightforward. For example, once the ship is in port or within a certain distance from the coast of a country, then that country’s laws take precedence. So if you’re on a cruise liner that’s sailing in US waters that all gambling activity will fall under the US Federal and State laws.

Technically this means that the maritime laws you find in international waters will change into territorial waters laws when the ship is between 3 to 12 miles from the coast. If you happen to be travelling on a cruise ship that comes within 12 miles of the US coast, then you’ll notice that all onboard cruise ship casinos will close for business. Also if you’re on a cruise liner that happens to dock in the US, then in order to comply with the local government rules, many ships will simply shut down their casinos for the duration of their stay.

So if you happen to be a gambler who’s taking a cruise in order to gamble, then we suggest that you look at the ship’s itinerary very carefully before you set off. That’s because if your boat happens to be exploring territorial waters of countries where gambling is a no-no, then you’ll find all the casino jackpot games are off-limits. In such cases, it’s always possible to go online and gamble at 22Bet Casino.

How Far Out To Sea Are International Waters?


Now the chances of gambling at sea very much will depend on the country you’ve come from. So when it comes to the county gambling laws in the UK and the US, things can be very different. For example in the US casinos are licensed and restricted by the state. So in order to gamble at cruise ship casinos, they need to be outside of territorial waters. Meaning they need to travel at least 12 miles away from the port before reaching international waters. Only then can you spin the roulette wheel, throw the dice, or deal the jackpot poker cards.

If we look at the state of cruise liner gambling in the UK, we can see that the UK government’s gambling commission takes a much more relaxed approach. Of course, being licensed casinos means that they do need to have a premises license, as they are offering commercial gambling. But if a ship happens to be in port from international waters then no license is required at all. This means that you can gamble to your heart’s content in UK waters without any problems.

Different Countries With Different Maritime Laws 

As you probably know, not all countries have an affection for gambling. This can be for historical, religious, or cultural reasons. Nevertheless, it’s important that if you’re taking a cruise line, you research its route before you set off. Also, it’s also a good idea to keep one eye on current news. After all, gaming laws can change at the drop of a hat. You may well find that many of these laws only apply to the natives and not to the visitors. Many governments in poor countries recognize that bringing foreign currency into the country is positive. So you’ll find that such nation as North Korea and Cambodia, where all gambling is illegal for the locals, is actually legal for visitors. As you can imagine, this has led to a huge increase in casino tourism.

The country of Lebanon only has a single licensed land-based casino. But in reality, this has led to both locals and tourists boarding cruise ships from Beirut. In this way, they can gamble without any issues. The same goes for Israel. All land-based casino betting is illegal. But if you look around, you’ll find a number of cruise ship casinos which can take players when docked in the major Israeli ports. Once they head off into the open sea and international waters, then you can gamble.

Attitudes Towards Gambling

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Both Malta and Bermuda have the same slightly muddy approach to gambling. In these nations, you’ll find that casino games can only take place in ports, and on overnight cruise ships. Whether the ship has a license or not is immaterial. But all gambling must take place between approved hours. In Japan, recent changes in the law have allowed the construction of three integrated casino resorts. But we should report that this news hasn’t been greeted with great fanfare from the Japanese population. Even though there appears to be a gaming addiction when it comes to Pachinko gambling, mega gambling resorts like those found in Macau and Las Vegas are not welcome. The Japanese population tends to view all gambling through the eyes of increased crime, probably thanks to its historical Yakuza links.

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The Legal Gambling Ages On Cruise Ships

The legal gambling age for cruise ship casinos depends on the international waters the vessel is sailing in. As well as the ship’s country flag. So if you happen to be on a ship sailing in US territory waters, then you need to be at least 21 years old in order to hit the casinos. But having said that, if the flag of the nation you’re sailing under has a more liberal gambling age, then you might find the minimum age dropping down to 18 as it is in the UK.

On the whole, the gambling age for players’ entry into the onboard casino will be at the cruise line’s discretion. Some companies may well require passengers to be between 18 and 21. Likewise, you might find the casino open for 18-year-olds providing they are accompanied by someone over 21. We suggest that you look at the small print. After all,  no one wants to be shown the door of the casino.

Taxes On Cruise Ship Casinos

When and how you pay your taxes on casino winnings and whilst in international waters can be a little complicated. First off, we need to consider if the winnings are a large enough amount to warrant a declaration. This is the job of the casino operator on the cruise ship. So if someone was able to win $1,200 in a single payout. Or whilst playing table games with odds of 300 to 1 or more, then the house must provide tax forms to the lucky winner. They will need to pay those taxes there and then. 


Keep your mind that this is only necessary if the casino operates in a country where gaming winnings are taxable. For example, if you happen to be on a cruise ship with UK registration, whether sailing in international waters or UK territorial waters, then because the ship is technically part of the UK, there are zero taxes on any winnings. The same applies if you’re playing online at 22Bet Casino. Not only will you find a massive selection of exciting games, but also be eligible for their generous welcome bonus of 122% up to €300 as a new customer. This will certainly increase your jackpot winning chances allowing you to hopefully win the jackpot online.

Who Regulates Cruise Ship Casinos?

As you’re well aware, all top reputable land-based casinos will possess a strict gaming license. Normally these come from gaming authorities such as the UK Gambling Commission or the Malta Gaming Authority. But with cruise ship casinos sailing in international waters, then these authorities have no jurisdiction. As such, the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, the Cruise Lines International Association will enforce gaming regulations and policies. These include such things as checking gambling equipment, the rules, the games, internal control procedures and internal audits. And let’s not forget the customer service.

On the whole, you’ll find that the CLIA will impose virtually the same rules and regulations that you’ll find with land-based control boards. This also applies to any licensed jurisdictions and establish cruise ship casinos. 

Onboard Customer Support

So you may be thinking, what happens if you have a problem or an issue related to cruise ship casinos or casino games? Who can you approach to deal with any disputes? We suggest that you first contact the onboard casino manager. If they’re unable to deal with your issue, then you’ll be sent to either the hotel manager or the director. In most cases, any problems can be resolved onboard the ship.

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