Getting to Know the Gambling Laws in Asia

Getting to Know the Gambling Laws in Asia

Gambling laws vary wildly around the world, and Asia is no different in this respect, with certain countries across the continent taking a liberal approach to sports betting, games of chance and online play, while others impose tight restrictions or even outright bans.

Here is a quick rundown of how gambling legislation differs throughout the major Asian nations to give you a better idea of what to expect when you travel between them.


While there are some centrally-implemented laws relating to gambling in India, the most potent of which dates from the late 19th century and bans the running of public casinos and bookmakers, today it is up to individual states to decide how they control this pastime.

In most places, gambling is heavily restricted, with only the availability of wagering on horse racing slipping through the net and being permitted. There are exceptions, specifically in the states of Sikkim, Daman and Goa, where land-based casinos have been granted licenses in recent years.

Sikkim is one of the most forward-thinking states when it comes to legalised gambling, especially in an online context. It has been pushing for domestic web-based casino operators to be supported for over a decade and has its own online lottery.

More broadly, it is not explicitly illegal for any Indian to play on an online casino, with ambiguities in the law meaning that states either ignore this type of activity altogether or do not choose to pursue the few cases that are raised. Indeed this is why more and more overseas operators have been targeting the Indian marketplace, with sites designed specifically for customers from this part of Asia and support for deposits and jackpots in the local currency.


Gambling is technically not permitted by law in China, although there are some exceptions and caveats that are worth noting.

For example, the government operates a pair of lotteries which are exempt from these restrictions. There are also major land-based casino resorts in both Hong Kong and Macau, as these special administrative regions do not have to adhere to legislation which impacts the mainland.

Macau alone makes billions in gambling revenue each quarter, with customers hailing from overseas as well as from other parts of China. It is also the only place in China where it is legal for citizens to play best on online casino sites, even if it is not possible for the sites themselves to be based locally.


Gambling has been a much-discussed issue in Japan for some time, with the practice being outlawed entirely in most conventional senses until relatively recently, when the relaxing of rules allowed land-based casinos to open their doors. As such there are now a total of three casino resort licenses up for grabs, with the ultimate outcome set to be that this pastime is both legitimised and encouraged in certain regulated contexts.

There are also sporting events which are legally open to betting, although this only covers four examples including horse racing, cycling, boating and motorbike-based competitions. These are all controlled by local authorities and so the government takes a cut of the revenues to fund other public projects.

One of the more complex aspects of the Japanese gambling ecosystem is pachinko, a game of chance which is similar to traditional slot machines but adapts elements from pinball in order to sidestep gambling regulations and remain legal. Players do not win cash, but instead get tokens for successful stints of pachinko which are then either exchanged for a prize or taken to a nearby store where they are purchased by the owners of the pachinko parlour.

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