Sports Betting Regulation in Different Countries

Published: 27 May 2020

Written by: BryanL

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Local betting laws and regulations impact how online sports betting is conducted in each country.  

While sports betting makes up a sizeable portion of all gambling conducted globally, regulations governing it vary from one country to the next.  Sports betting regulation depends on numerous factors, from the legality of the betting activities to cultural preferences, as well as the geographical and demographic spread of the players.

While each county’s regulatory framework governs online sports betting operations, there’re often grey areas that lead to indistinguishable differentiation between what’s legal and what’s not.  In the instance of Canada, each province has its own set of rules in this regard.

Here are some of the biggest sports betting markets globally and the specific approaches that they’ve taken to regulate the betting segment:

Sports betting in Canada

As with other forms of gambling, online sports betting is regulated under the Canadian Criminal Code.  All betting providers require government approval, which also includes bookmarking operations.  Ever since 1970, Canadian provinces regulate and issue licenses for all gambling operations independent of the federal government.  A current legal setback is that single betting is not allowed while betting on behalf of someone else is strictly prohibited.

Sports betting in Australia

Betting in Australia dates back to 1810, and ever since then, the growth of both betting and gambling in the country has been exponential.  However, online sports betting remains the only legal form of online gambling in the country, with other forms of online gambling being outlawed in 2017.    Australian betters are subject to favourable laws, since none of their winnings are taxable, as they are seen a product of luck rather than gains.  The responsibility of paying tax is migrated from the players to the bookmakers that operate sports betting books.

Sports betting in the UK

Ever since the adoption of the Gambling Act in 2007, the online betting industry in the UK has experienced a boom.  All forms of online betting are legal, with soccer bets leading the way by volume.  All online betting sites need to be first registered and licensed by the UK Gambling Commission before they can start operating. 

Sports betting in Germany

Betting is entrenched in German culture and has been an integral part of it for generations.  As in the UK, soccer-related online betting contributes to 80% of overall betting.  Since Germany’s betting laws often fall within a grey area, there is a broad range of small and large bookmakers operating in the country.        

Sports betting in Italy

Italy was renowned for having some of the strictest gambling laws in Europe, with only the Horse Breeders Society and the Olympic Committee allowed to offer betting opportunities.  Luckily, a new gambling law was passed in 2010, allowing for online betting cross border operators to penetrate the local market.  Italy follows the European standard with most of the betting revolving around soccer matches.      

Sports betting in Belgium

All forms of gambling are legal in Belgium, with online sports betting operators required to obtain a license from a land-based operation.  Belgium also limits the number of foreign betting companies that are permitted to operate locally.  Any illicit offshore operator that tries to offer its services domestically risks getting its ISP blocked permanently.  Local players caught accessing unauthorised operator sites face a fine of up to CA$42,000.  

Sports betting in the Netherlands

The Netherlands viewed any form of gambling, including sports betting, as something that needs to be strictly regulated, and operators were only allowed to target Dutch citizens with their offering.  Due to a rapid rise in illegal gambling, the state has somewhat relaxed its online gambling laws, allowing specific offshore sites to operate locally.  Sports betting in the Netherlands generates a lot of transactions, with most bets focusing on hockey and soccer games.

Sports betting in Singapore

The Singaporean government has a tough stance on offshore sports betting, which has been outlawed by the country’s Remote Gambling Act.  This has led to all international sports betting operators being locked out of the country, with only two local providers, Singapore Turf Club and Singapore Pools, allowed to operate.  The most popular betting sports in Singapore are soccer, horseracing, basketball and cricket. 

Whether you are a player or a sports betting operator, it is advised that you familiarise yourself fully with the gambling legislation of a country from where you wish to either bet or offer betting opportunities.  Knowing the rules and the regulations will save you from unnecessary brushes with the law and make your betting experience as smooth as possible.

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