Asian Countries with the Strictest Gambling Laws
Asian high rollers account for 40% of the gaming revenue growth each year. Despite those statistics, several Asian countries boast the strictest gambling laws in the world. Asia is a huge continent, with 48 sovereign countries and over half of the population (4.4 billion) in the world.
What’s interesting is, despite the breadth and scope of the Asian landscape, its countries with the strictest laws exist in the east and west. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Lebanon have strict gambling laws, but so do far eastern countries. Laws from Singapore to North Korea ban gambling.
Often, though, the laws on the books do not coincide with the way they’re enforced. Therefore, it’s important to know which countries have the stricted enforcement of gambling laws.
The quick list below looks closer at the strictest gambling laws in Asia.
United Arab Emirates Gambling Laws
Most Islamic countries pass strict gambling laws and few have land-based casinos. Despite the laws on the books, though, many look the other way if citizens visit online gambling sites. With a VPN and a laptop, many Middle Eastern residents can bet online.
Not so in the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven princedoms which include Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The UAE imprisons people for up to 2 years if they gamble online.
Qatar’s Online Betting Laws
Qatar not only bans casino gambling and poker, but also sports betting. The ban on bookmaker bets is a little odd, given the fact Qatar hosts the 2022 World Cup. European and South American football fans visiting Qatar for the World Cup should not wager on the games.
No doubt, people can find gaming in Qatar. In fact, reports suggest an underground gambling scene exists in Qatar. Don’t get caught, because the fines and penalties are fierce.
Lebanon Gambling Laws
Lebanon’s government imposed a strict ban on gambling. Most westerners view Lebanon through the lens of its long civil war. What they don’t know is Lebanon once was the nightclub capital of the Middle East. Its multi-religious population (Muslim and Christian) made Lebanon a vibrant culture, but one troubled with strife.
Even today, Lebanon bans gambling, but has one licensed online casino and one land-based casino. These exist, but players who wish to avoid law enforcment should stick to the casino cruise ships that leave Beirut.
Singapore Gambling Laws
Though Singapore boasts two of the world’s most lucrative casinos, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, it enforces strict gambling laws. Casinos accept foreign tourists and VIP high rollers, but does not allow Singaporean residents to play.
The Singapore Remote Gaming Act bans most online gambling sites, a lesson Betfair learned to its regret. Enforcement of the offshore online gambling ban is robust. Only a few exceptions exist, but those are not for foreign sites. Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club received exemptions, but everyone else is banned.
Gambling in North Korea
It should come as no surprise that North Korea passed strict gambling laws. The North Korean regime controls every aspect of life. If people own PCs, smartphones, and radios, those devices cannot pick up signals from South Korea or other countries.
North Korea considers devices smuggled into the country that pick up South Korean channels as contraband. If caught with one, the offender can expect a long prison sentence. Therefore, the country obviously bans online gambling. Given the arbitrary nature of law enforcement on tourists, it’s recommended no one visit North Korea.
Cambodian Gaming Laws
Cambodia acts as a sign laws can change. As late as 1996, Cambodia banned all gambling in the country except NagaWorld in Phnom Penh. To this date, NagaCorp has a 70-year monopoly on Phnom Pehn casino gaming that stretches into the 2050s.
Cambodia also bans online gambling, due to a history of problem gambling in the country. A few legal lotteries exist which the government sponsors. But in the last few years, Cambodia opened land-based casino gambling to foreign operators.
Now casinos spring up all over the southern coast of Cambodia. Locals remain ambivalent about these casinos. In fact, they face backlash, because they are Chinese owned and the Chinese patrons don’t frequent local businesses. Whether these complaints are overstated in the English news media is another matter.
Whatever the case, the new Cambodian gambling laws show that change is possible.