The Legal Landscape of Sports Betting: How Regulations Are Evolving Worldwide

Sports betting regulations worldwide

The sports betting industry has undergone remarkable transformations over the years. Thanks to the advent of the internet, it has grown more popular than ever, with millions of active punters worldwide. Alongside this expansion comes a significant evolution in the legal landscape of sports betting globally. Many jurisdictions that previously outrightly banned the act are starting to embrace it with appropriate regulations in place.

This article will explore how the legal landscape of sports betting is changing worldwide and the factors driving this evolution.

The Evolving Regulatory Landscape


Gambling, including sports betting, has always been a part of human activities. From ancient to modern times, people from all walks of life have always enjoyed games of chance. However, the legal framework surrounding this varied considerably across different eras and regions, even after society became more structured. Some governments outrightly banned the act due to cultural, religious, or political opinions, while others took a more relaxed approach towards it.

However, as the sports betting industry grew rapidly, there has been a trend of regulatory changes worldwide in recent years. Many countries that had previously prohibited the activity have started embracing it and establishing a formal regulatory framework. And some other countries are making necessary changes to their pre-existing regulations to stay on top of the lucrative and fast-growing industry.

That said, let’s explore how this is changing in different territories across the globe.


Gambling in all its forms was unregulated in Canada until 1892 when the federal government passed the Criminal Code, which outlawed it. Over the years, amendments were made to the law to accommodate different gambling activities like lotteries and even provincial-provided parlay bets in 1985.

However, everything changed for Canada in 2021 when the C-218 bill was passed to allow the legalization of single-game sports betting. However, like in the US, betting is regulated at the provincial level. So, the laws surrounding it vary from one province to another. Also, it is noteworthy that Ontario is still the only territory to allow external online betting sites to offer services legally within Canada.

However, Canadians can freely visit this website to check for the 50 best free spins and no deposit casinos in Canada as there are no regulations restricting them.



Europe is one of the most regulated regions in the world of sports betting. Most European countries have well-structured legal frameworks that regulate sports betting operations within their jurisdictions. For instance, the United Kingdom has a long history of legalized sports betting with a fully established modern framework for regulation. Some other countries famous for legal sports betting include France, Germany, Spain, Ireland, and many others.

United States

Under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), it was previously illegal for states within the United States to authorize legal sports betting. This act was made to protect the integrity of America’s beloved sports and keep it away from the perceived corruption, manipulation, and fraud-prone betting industry.

However, in 2018, the US Supreme Court overturned the PASPA, which opened the door for the rapid legalization of sports within the country. But, since legislation within the US is state-based, sports betting legalization still varies from state to state. Today, the act has become legal and regulated in 37 US states and the District of Columbia.


Africa is another emerging market for sports betting. Many African countries, from Nigeria to South Africa, Ghana, and others, have embraced this with appropriate legal frameworks. However, other nations like Algeria, Sudan, and Libya still outrightly ban the activities, primarily due to religious beliefs.



Asia is a continent with varying sentiments regarding gambling activities. While some territories like Macau and Singapore have legalized and regulated sports betting, it is still illegal in other countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, etc. Many of these countries prohibit it primarily due to religious and cultural norms.

On the other hand, the subject remains in a grey area in certain countries like India and Japan, as these only allow legal sports betting on specific sports. However, people from these countries are often free to bet using offshore online sportsbooks, as there are no laws in that regard.

North America and South America

It is also legal in most of the countries in North America with established regulatory systems, except for Cuba, which has a legal ban on all forms of gambling. The legal landscape of sports betting in South America is also quite positive, with most countries having legalized it.

Sports Betting Licensing and Regulatory Bodies


The impact of licensing and regulatory bodies regarding the changing legal landscape in the sports betting industry cannot be overlooked. This is especially true for online sportsbooks and casinos. These bodies are responsible for setting standards and requirements for sports betting operators. They monitor and enforce compliance, protecting consumers and ensuring a fair betting experience.

The table below shows some of the most reputable and respected licensing and regulatory authorities worldwide.

Licensing and Regulatory Authority Jurisdictions
United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) United Kingdom
Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) Malta
Kahnawake Gaming Commission Kahnawake, Canada
Gibraltar Gambling Commission Gibraltar
Alderney Gambling Control Commission Alderney
Curacao eGaming Curacao
Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission Isle of Man
New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement New Jersey, United States

Factors Driving the Evolution of Sports Betting Legalization


As mentioned, different countries and territories have changed their stance regarding the legal status of sports betting. But what exactly is causing this evolution? Let’s examine some key factors driving these transformations below.

  • Economic consideration: Perhaps the most significant driver of regulatory changes in sports betting for most countries has to do with the potential economic benefits it brings. According to market reports, the global sports betting market was valued at USD 83.65 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach USD 182.12 billion by 2030. As a result, more governments are seeing sports betting as a significant source of revenue generation, leading to regulatory reforms.
  • Shifting public opinion: Public perception about sports betting and other form of gambling has evolved. People in different territories now entertain the activity more, resulting in more favourable governmental regulatory decisions.
  • Technological advancements: The technological advancements in the sports betting industry, from the rise of online bookmakers to mobile apps, in-play betting, etc., have necessitated regulatory changes and adaptation. After all, these developments come with more complexity in the digital betting landscape, which must be addressed.
  • Consumer protection: Another primary driver for sports betting legalization and regulatory changes is the need to protect consumers. As the sports wagering industry expands, so does the risk of fraud, abuse, and problem gambling. So, most governments establish regulatory laws to prevent predatory practices and promote responsible gambling.


The legal landscape of sports betting is constantly changing worldwide. The economic revenue of the industry keeps soaring, and initially opposing public sentiments regarding the act are starting to shift. As a result, more and more countries are beginning to embrace sports betting, fostering a more lenient regulatory environment. However, the journey is far from over. Judging by the transformations so far, the future will undoubtedly bring new innovations and opportunities, and the regulatory landscape will continue to evolve in response.