Online gambling is growing rapidly as more players sign up to take advantage of the casino sites and sports betting services that cater to their needs.
This increase in demand has forced regulators in many territories to respond, with some going all-out to embrace this lucrative industry while others are a little slower of the mark, leaving citizens in limbo with regards to the legality of making wagers online.
To clear up any confusion and compare the different ways in which online gambling is regulated globally, here is a look at the varied approaches taken by a number of nations.
While online gambling is by no means universally accepted in Europe, it is here that it has managed to gain the most traction in the past couple of decades.
The UK leads the way when it comes to online gambling regulation, with the Gambling Commission offering licenses to private operators wishing to provide services to players within its borders. So while land-based casinos may not be quite as popular in Britain as in other areas, when asking which city is the gambling capital of the world, London could be a top contender thanks largely to the size of the i-gaming market alone.
France has a similarly liberal take on online gambling regulation, with a 2010 law allowing sports betting, horse race betting and poker. Interestingly, it is still not possible to play other casino games online under current regulations in this country, with poker only managing to make it through because it is seen as skill-based.
Other European countries, including most of those in the Scandinavian group, have tighter online gambling regulations, with many operating state-owned monopolies to control very limited forms of betting, as well as lotteries, via digital platforms.
The regulatory strategies concerning online gambling are a little murkier in both the US and Canada, which can make it tricky for players to know exactly what they can and cannot do legally.
In the US, there has been widespread resistance to the legalization of many types of gambling for decades, and it is still the case that most or all activities, both land-based and digital in nature, are banned in certain states.
However, in recent years there has been a loosening of the legislative grip on gambling, with New Jersey becoming one of the first states to pass a bill which made online play a legitimate option, albeit one only available to residents. This movement has gained momentum, and while rules vary from state to state, the industry is gradually becoming seen as legitimate here.
In Canada, the regulation of online gambling is somewhat up in the air. It is not technically illegal for citizens to play online if they wish, although it is illegal for operators to set up shop anywhere on Canadian soil, meaning that the vast majority of play is focused at web-based casinos hosted and headquartered in other parts of the world.
This off-shoring of online gambling facilities is fairly common, partly because it takes a long time for regulators to catch up to the technological trends forging current gambling habits. While only a small percentage of the Canadian population are thought to regularly play at online casinos, this still represents tax revenue that is lost to overseas operators.
Gambling regulations are generally a lot stricter in Asian countries, with China imposing a blanket ban on all forms of gambling, including web-powered experiences, for example. However, as with other regions where it is not technically legal to play, people still find workarounds thanks to overseas operators. There are also certain provinces, including Macau, where online gambling is not explicitly forbidden, making it easier for players to sign up for services without having to jump through quite as many hoops.
India is in a similar situation, with states controlling regulations independently of any centralized approach, and attempts made in recent years to tax any income players make from gambling via overseas operators.
The main thing to remember is that, wherever you are based in the world, it is a good idea to check local regulations carefully before gambling online, just to be on the safe side and avoid the ire of the authorities.