Why Is Gambling Illegal? Arguments For And Against Gambling Being Illegal In Some Countries
Updated: Nov 3
The matter of gambling legality has remained one of the most discussed topics among both gamblers and those opposing it. In the lines below, we're tackling what appears to be the hottest topic of the gambling world – gambling (il)legality and what makes gambling illegal.
Why is Gambling Illegal: Main Reasons and Concerns
The most common underlying reasons for keeping gambling illegal are morality and/or religion, immediately followed by socioeconomic ramifications such as the possibility of gambling addiction, underage gambling, and the individual's safety. Although major religious scripts do not mention, i.e. deal with gambling itself, they comment on behaviours and emotional states, that may be the underlying motivation leading certain individuals to gambling. In that sense, these same religions and cultures have taken it upon themselves to treat gambling as sin, and even equate it with crime. Participating in gambling activities in states where gambling is illegal can lead to time in prison, huge fines, and loss of social status. For this reason, it is essential players familiarize themselves with gambling terms and conditions of the country they are playing in and the gambling platforms they choose.
Countries Where Gambling is Illegal (Worldwide)
What is considered illegal gambling in certain countries doesn't necessarily have to be the case for others. This may introduce a dose of confusion for everyone unfamiliar with the gambling laws of the countries they are playing in. This is why it is always advised to inspect the gambling laws and the overall attitude of a country on gambling to understand why gambling is illegal there, and if it is illegal overall to gamble on your territory.While some countries around the world take quite a relaxed attitude towards gambling, others heavily prohibit it. Online gambling is banned in some parts of the world, and brick-and-mortar casinos are outlawed due to religious reasons or moral directives.Most Islamic nations stand united in gambling prohibition due to religious reasons.
Is Gambling Illegal in the United States?
Under US federal law, gambling is majorly legal. However, the USA has started opening for online gambling regulations, with currently six states allowing online gambling:
Within the USA, each state is free to individually regulate its gambling laws or prohibit its practice altogether within its borders.
As for sports betting, although sportsbooks can currently operate legally in the United States, no federal legislation has been established to legalise the activity.
Are All Casino Games Illegal?
With so many different types of casino games, the discussion on their legality is an ongoing one. In a nutshell, not all casino games are illegal, especially not in the countries that have regulated their online gambling scene.But, let's give this topic another view, too -If gambling should be fully banned by governments as it is considered ruinous, crime-fostering, harmful, or immoral, then the first types of casino games that may take the hit are poker games and slots. After all, these two types are considered the most addictive of all casino games. The next in line could be other, "less harmful" games, such as baccarat, keno, bingo, and similar. Finally, the national lottery seems to be the only "exception" to strict gambling laws and regulations as it is still viewed as entertainment rather than gambling. While there is no proof that the lottery causes any less addiction than "regular gambling", its presence in the gambling world – both online and offline – goes in its favour. If changes in gambling regulations see the light of day anytime soon, lotteries (all forms of it) may be the last ones to be banned.Why Gambling Should Be Illegal - Most Common ArgumentsThe matter of why gambling should be illegal or legal poses itself as one of the catchiest topics today, with valid arguments on both ends.
Here are the most common arguments on why gambling should be illegal:
#1 Gambling Is Subject to Fraud
As the fastest-growing industry in the world, legalised gambling can corruptly influence state governments which benefit from the revenue received. Recently, numerous news reports have talked of corruption, fraud in state lotteries, and money laundering.
#2 Problem Gambling Increases With the Availability of Gambling Facilities
Legalised gambling, for the most part, means more parlours offering gambling activities, leading to more addictive and destructive behaviours and a gambling addiction.
Gambling legislation may even lead to underage problem gambling where legal gambling age isn't fixed or reasonably placed. Some reports say that gambling legislation in various states has become a stimulator of gambling rather than anything else.
#3 The Society Ends up Paying for Problem Gambling
Common cases where (compulsive) gamblers fall into debt due to their gambling habits; as a result, they end up relying upon the state's welfare or unemployment benefits. The costs are said to reach several billions of dollars per year, which puts a considerable strain on society.
#4 Possible Mental Health Issues
Gambling addiction impact people's careers, families, and their physical and mental health, often resulting in divorce, bankruptcy, and crimes due to debt. The gamblers will eventually rely on welfare or unemployment benefits, impacting the government, and the costs could reach several billion dollars per year.
#5 Certain Groups May Be More Disadvantaged
Legalised gambling is shown to hurt, and even destroy the poor and disadvantaged much more than people of status. The rich don't necessarily depend on what they win, but the poor do. If gambling were illegal, gambling parlours would not be able to promote their casino games, lotteries, and other forms of betting as harmless games of chance that may "win you some".
On the other hand, the arguments on why gambling should be legal are:
#6 Reduced or Neutralised Criminal Element
When back in the 1930s prohibition took place, alcohol began being created and distributed by criminals. If a bar wanted to serve alcohol to its customers, they had to get it illegally, which put them in a very unfortunate position. Eventually, those same businesses would end up depending on their illegal sources that wouldn't think twice if they wanted to blackmail them. The moment alcohol got legalised, bars and other places had legal ways to obtain alcohol, without having to worry about unfair trade conditions.The same applies to gambling. If gambling were legalised everywhere, shady business people on the outlook to rob people of their funds wouldn't stand a chance, as all of their clientele would go to trusted, legal casinos. With the legalisation of gambling, customers are protected, and the criminal element is reduced or even eliminated. In our podcast, "Cryptocurrencies at the casino", we talk about online casinos, crypto, and how the future of gambling looks like. Take a listen, and see if it at all relates to your thoughts on gambling and gambling (il)legality.
#7 Legalised Gambling Promotes Freedom of Choice
While some individuals and organisations see gambling as immoral and sinful and call for its prohibition, most modern societies leave this judgement to an individual level. This argument stresses that individuals should be allowed to make their own choices and stand behind them.
#8 For Most People, Gambling Is Just Fun
When talking about why gambling should be illegal, most argue that virtually all people fall victims to gambling which is not the case. In fact, people become victims so rarely that the statistic revolves around 2.6% of problem gamblers in the USA. That means that over 97% of people who engage in gambling do just fine, have fun, and never become gambling victims.
#9 A Portion of Gambling Earnings Goes Back to the Society
If gambling were fully legalised, each state government would benefit from the revenue received from gambling, increasing total state budget by a portion. At this time, state lotteries seem to be the primary source of these earnings, but other gambling games follow closely behind.Depending on the state regulation, the predetermined percentage of winnings that ends up in the state's wallet benefits everyone living in that region. So, then - why is gambling illegal when it benefits society?
#10 Problem Gambling and Mental Health Under Control
What are The Benefits Of Legalized Gambling?
Although it may sound paradoxical that problem gambling gets better regulated with gambling legislation, there's actually much sense to it. Problem gambling usually develops for people susceptible to developing an addiction but are rarely encouraged to seek help that would aid them in keeping their urges under control. If gambling were legalised, every gambling parlour would be obliged to provide appropriate help to its players and monitor their behaviours to prevent addiction development. Gamblers would know where to go for help and would actively be encouraged to seek it if needed.
With such a dynamic in place, problem gamblers would have control of their actions and avoid falling into money, family or mental health problems.Although countries such as the United States and Canada have taken significant steps to counter the opposing argument by legalising gambling, some still maintain that gambling is inherently harmful. The former has established regulatory organisations to oversee gambling activities. These bodies balance the risk and benefits of the activity by ensuring player safety and security. What, then, do these developed nations gain by legalising gambling?
#1 Fair and Responsible Gaming
Countries that continue to support the idea that gambling should be illegal have procedures and regulations in place to deal with offenders. While jail time or fines for breaking the law may sound like effective deterrents, they are not; instead, gamblers find methods to break the law by visiting illegal casinos or gambling online.For the former, this entails a requirement for intense confidentiality and poses a risk of legal disputes, which also puts you in danger. Conversely, the latter comes with undeniable hazards because there are more online casinos now, which means there is a greater chance that you will play on a shaky platform.Legalising gambling assures that each casino a player visits is governed by an honourable organisation. You can rest assured that the authority takes any misconduct aspect seriously in this way. As a result, you lessen your chance of losing money or being duped. Regulations make sure that gambling is fair.
While not all platforms are regulated locally due to the rising online casino market in Canada and other nations, pursuing casinos that break the rules is simpler. Before picking a gambling website, you can read a review of the available Canadian online casinos. You can also submit feedback about any casinos you've used to warn other players about bad behaviour or inform them of good deals. Legalising gambling permits the free exchange of information, which is essential to the player experience.
#2 Provides Avenues to Tackle Addiction
The fact that gambling exposes the player to financial danger is one of the biggest worries. There have been many reports of gambling addictions, and some players have reported losing all of their money in a single game. Fear that legalising gaming will lead to an increase in cases arises from the concept of compulsive gambling.This is essentially untrue. If anything, responsible gambling goes hand in hand with gambling legalisation and regulation.The prevalence of gambling addiction is not always influenced by whether or not the activity is legal, though access may have an impact. Whether gambling is permitted by the law or not, people will nonetheless bet.Legalised gambling opens up opportunities for developing and distributing resources to combat addiction. Gamblers can more easily get help when they feel they are going too far because it is considered a common and acceptable hobby in these nations. Gambling-friendly nations frequently offer options to combat addiction, such as counselling programmes or ways to self-regulate.You'll discover that some websites that offer online casinos for real money and evaluations of them also warn gamers about the risks of gambling recklessly. This prerequisite set by oversight organisations shows how strictly a casino abides by gambling rules. It helps to ensure that these casinos not only give you a way to enjoy your favourite games and earn real money but also that they look out for the player's welfare.
#3 Safety and Security
Online gamblers have the option of playing for free or using real money. To select the latter, you must give personal information, including addresses and identification documents. You might occasionally need to fund your account using credit cards.When gambling is regulated, online casino safety is no issue at all. Your data is safeguarded by encryption technology at online casinos against unauthorised access and fraud. Legalised gambling makes it easier to follow up with the appropriate authority if you have a problem, a complaint, or suspect unauthorised access.
#4 Job Creation
Over 1.8 million jobs have been produced by the gaming sector worldwide. These figures come from both physical and virtual casinos. Furthermore, regarding the latter, traffic from the casinos permeates other areas of the nearby villages. In this way, gaming has generated employment within and outside the sector.
Even while it's not typically thought of as creating jobs, some players become professional gamblers and rely on the industry as their primary source of income. Some people have escaped poverty thanks to this economic gain and family support.
Moving away from online casino gambling for a second and discussing land-based venues, the world's gambling capitals include places like Macau, Las Vegas, and Atlanta. Not only do they have some of the top casinos, but they are also sought-after vacation spots. Although these cities were or are now primarily recognised for their prominence in the gambling industry, they have evolved into all-encompassing destinations. They offer resources for both pleasure and business visitors and access to luxurious hotels and places to visit.
In 2019, the US government earned $43.61 billion from casinos, compared to $1.25 billion for Canada and £2.9 billion for the UK. These funds come from both physical and virtual casinos. Through tax receipts, legalising gaming promotes economic expansion.An increase in revenue is anticipated as the online gaming market continues to expand in the sector.
There Isn’t One Definite Stance On This Matter
Throughout the history of gambling, the notion of gambling legality remains a topic open for discussion until further notice. As different parts of the world have different takes on what is considered illegal gambling, there isn't one definite stance or solution on this matter. On that note, if you are gambling and wish to continue to do so, find reputable online casinos with history and good ratings. Also, if you feel like you may fall victim to gambling, ask for help before it is too late. Good luck!