Online gambling is a multi-billion dollar industry and different countries and regions have their own laws, but it’s evident that the legality of Asian online gambling is stricter than the Scandinavian casino laws.
In Singapore, the country has always been known for its strict policy when it comes to gambling, but in 2014, they are preparing a new legislation to formally outlaw online gambling. The government has decided that it wants to send a clear signal that it will no longer allow residents to access online gambling sites. These new laws could include IP-blocking, requiring financial institutions to stop processing transactions from such sites and banning all forms of advertising for the same.
This is a much more aggressive to prohibition than in Norway where although it land-based betting is regulated, online wagering is very much restricted. There are two state owned companies who have exclusive rights; Norsk Tipping which offers lotteries, sports betting and instant games and Norsk Rikstoto which covers horse race betting. Slots were banned in 2007, but reintroduced with stricter limits which require players to have special cards linked to their bank accounts. Despite having access to two Norwegian-based websites, betting on foreign websites was made illegal for citizens and the state governs these laws quite similar to the US where banks are the focal point, not the casino players or the companies operating the sites. Banking institutions are prohibited to transfer funds between Norwegian and foreign online betting sites which essentially cuts off the financial livelihood of the foreign operators.
In Hong Kong, land-based gambling has been regulated since 1977 where casino gambling is restricted to cruise ships, but other activities such as lottery and betting on sports event is legally offered in limited form by one state-authorized entity, the Hong Kong Jockey Club. While this may seem reflective of the monopoly in Norway, it is not because the country does not permit gambling over the internet. Despite the law, the government body does not have a very strict policing policy for the internet which allows foreign operators to access the market with ease and accept wagers from players based in Hong Kong.
Sweden and Finland have perhaps the most relaxed position on the issue and quite reflective of the way that the Canadian government manages online gambling in Canada. Despite issuing state (provincial) licenses, the country does not prohibit its citizens from playing at international websites.
In Sweden, several Acts have been passed since 1994 ranging from prohibition to regulation, but there are many foreign companies that offer betting options to Swedes and there are little or no repercussions from the government. Similarly, in Finland, despite the pressure from EU regulators, the country is still against allowing foreign companies to operate in Finland, but there is no one policing these policies.
Whether or not it’s the pressure of the EU Commission, the lack of financial resources of the government or the cultural acceptance towards personal choice, countries in Scandinavia have a much higher toleration, or at least acceptance, that the world and all of its activities are becoming digitalized.