Legalising sports betting is one of the many proposals to be put forward to tackle the upcoming COVID-19 pandemic. The concept behind legalising sports betting is to use the betting itself as a form of self-regulation, making the industry more accountable and transparent for the public. It also means anyone can enter the market, irrespective of their financial standing.
Unfortunately, given the current climate, there are a number of countries around the world where sports betting is illegal. This being said, we at BetEasy are keen to point out that whilst in most places it is against the law to bet on sports, it is not illegal to do so in specific states within the US. More on that below.
Legal In Most Places
It is fair to say that, generally, sports betting is legal in most places. The majority of the world’s major sporting events are considered to be covered by governmental legislation, with the general consensus being that sports betting is a form of gambling and, as such, is not tolerated under any circumstances. In particular, the following countries have banned all forms of sports betting: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Congo (Brazzaville), Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Malaysia, Nepal, Nicaragua, North Korea, and Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka is said to have partially legalised gambling, but still prohibits sports betting).
The notable exceptions are China, India, and a number of other Asian countries, where it is permitted to bet on sporting events as long as that person is over the age of 18 and the venue is licensed. In these jurisdictions, it is perfectly legal to bet on any sporting event that is taking place within the country. The betting itself is also tolerated, as long as it is not done at an illegal casino or betting establishment.
It should also be noted that there are a number of small countries where legal sports betting is completely unregulated. These include Bahamas, Costa Rica, and the US Virgin Islands. It is not uncommon for bookmakers to advertise their services in these countries, taking the risk that someone might actually try to place a bet, given the lack of any governing body to oversee or police the industry.
US Legal In Most Places
Although the majority of the world’s major sporting events are covered by legislation, one state in North America has managed to buck the trend. As of October 18th, 2019, wagering on sporting events in US is legal, provided you are physically located in one of a select few states that allow for it. Notable exceptions include Delaware, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Oregon. Given the size of the country, it is not surprising that there are a large number of places where sports betting is legal. However, it should be noted that under the existing federal legislation (the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006), operating a sportsbook is still prohibited.
This being said, the abovementioned states have implemented their own legislation to ensure that bookmakers can, in fact, operate. The most notable exception is New Jersey, which has specifically stated that it is legal for bookmakers to open a sportsbook in the state as long as they adhere to a handful of regulations. These include having at least one physical location where bets can be placed, and operating with at least eighteen years of operational experience.
Whether or not you agree with the abovementioned legislation, it is fair to say that it is not illegal to bet on sports in the US. Still, given the prevailing climate, it is advisable for foreign travellers to the country to keep a close eye on the legality of sports betting when they are there.
Australia And Canada Legal
The two most populated continents, North and South America, only have one country in common: Canada. The other eighteen countries of the Americas are grouped together under the denomination of the United States of America. This being said, Australia is another country where sports betting is completely legal. In fact, the entire nation takes the concept of legal betting very seriously, actively encouraging gamblers to bet on sporting events, as it believes this to be a great way of boosting the health of its economy. This conviction is what led to the implementation of the Wagering on Racing Bill in 2014, which allows for sports betting in all races, except for restricted events (e.g. horse racing), and for all genders, except where explicitly prohibited.
It is also important to state that Australia and Canada are the only two countries where this is the case. The rest of the world generally perceives betting on sporting events as an illegal practise, and there are many countries where this simply is not the case. The same cannot be said for Ireland, as it is completely legal to bet on sporting events in Ireland, as it is in every other part of the world. This being said, it is still highly advised for foreign travellers to the country to keep a close eye on the legality of sports betting when they are there. Especially since the odds for a Canadian could be a whole lot less hassle free than those offered by an Irish bookmaker.
Depends On The Event
Each sport has its own set of rules and regulations regarding when it is and is not legal to bet on that sport. A good example of this is the case of American football. It is perfectly legal to wager on American football in Mexico and in any country that does not have laws prohibiting it. However, it is against the law to bet on American football in Japan.
It is also important to note that the legality of betting on a sport can change from one country to another. Take the case of cricket, for example. While it is generally legal to bet on cricket in every country, some nations do not allow for it on certain events, like ICC events (International Cricket Council events). Still, it is a safe bet to say that in most places it is legal to bet on cricket, with the notable exceptions being Japan and some parts of Africa.
It is also important to point out that many countries have different legislation regarding when it is and is not acceptable to engage in insider trading. In general, it is not considered to be insider trading to use information that you know is not public. For example, if you know that a certain player will score a certain amount of points, it would not be considered insider trading to bet on that player to score the number that you know he will score. However, if you know that a certain player will score less points than was anticipated, it would be considered insider trading to go ahead and place the bet, since you know the information that you used to make the wager was not public. In this scenario, the person who finds out that the bet was placed would likely report you to the police.
As you can see, the situation with regards to where it is and is not legal to bet on sports is pretty complicated. Still, those who want to bet on sports can do so legally in any country where this is permitted. The only thing they should be on the lookout for is localised legislation regarding when it is and is not acceptable to engage in insider trading.