Top 10 Unbelievable Gambling Laws: Bizarre Betting Restrictions Around the World

  • May 08, 2023
  • 10 min read

Gambling has been a pastime since ancient times and has been subject to restrictions since then. Be it the medieval gambling houses of Venice or countries in the 21st century, laws have been enacted to regulate gambling everywhere. With online gambling gaining immense popularity worldwide, laws surrounding them have only gotten more rigorous and strenuous. 

Some countries decide to keep it legal while others ban it completely, but some countries have made weird and bizarre laws regarding gambling. These laws range from being a little odd and funny to straight-up unbelievable. Let’s check out the top 10 unbelievable gambling laws and betting restrictions worldwide. 

10. No Texas Hold’em in Texas - USA

bizzare gambling law usa

As much as we visualize Texas and Texans in general as being kind yet rowdy like the old times, it isn’t the case. In fact, it's the complete opposite, as Texas has some of the most strenuous gambling laws in the US

Private games of poker and its variations are allowed in the state. However, as soon as you are betting money, you have officially committed a criminal act. As texas hold 'em goes, you gotta pay up to enter and bet money, and the state laws have decided to criminalize the very act of betting. Very limited forms of betting are allowed in Texas, like the state-run lottery, parimutuel racing, and a few other obscure games. 

However, you can still enjoy the game privately as long as you’re not making money off of it. Poker is very popular indeed, but the very state that named the game frowns upon it as it considers it a game of “luck” rather than a game of “skill” and has outlawed it for that reason. 

9. No Gambling on Elephants - Thailand

bizzare gambling law thailand

South Asians have always regarded elephants as sacred, and these majestic beasts have been used for everything from status symbols to weapons of war. However, this law is about as bizarre as they come considering gambling is mostly illegal in Thailand. 

This law makes sense when you understand that many elephant handlers would bet on their performance in different areas and games of skill. The practice was shunned and outlawed in the 20th century as it was seen as cruel and disrespectful to the animals. 

The Thai government has been taking this law very seriously as of late and has imposed both fines and prison time on perpetrators. Recently, fines as high as $3,000 alongside a year in prison time have been dished out to discourage people from this cruel activity. 

8. No Gambling on Sundays - Norway

bizzare gambling law norway

Norway is one of the strictest countries when it comes to gambling in Europe. The government has a monopoly when it comes to gambling, and this law has come under criticism as people cite it limits their choices and creates illegal rings for gambling. 

First brought about all the way back in the 19th century, the most recent amendment was made in 2008, which put restrictions on gambling on Sundays. This law is rooted in the Christian beliefs of the country that suggests that the sabbath day be kept for rest and reflection on one’s actions. Although a good initiative, the law is hardly enforced, and some forms of gambling are allowed on the day. 

Therefore, the law won’t completely ruin your Sunday night gambling session, but it might restrict the games you have available at your disposal. 

7. No Betting During Live Sports Events - Australia

bizzare gambling law australia

The Aussies take their sports very seriously. I mean, have you seen them competing in Football, Rugby, or Cricket? They are as energetic and passionate as it gets. Going off of that, they also value the integrity of sports competitions hence the law. 

A law was introduced in 2016 to criminalize betting during sporting events to protect the integrity of sports and prevent match-fixing with allegations coming from all over the country. 

The law prohibits all kinds of betting, be it online or in-person, and bookmakers are prohibited to offer their services during this time. The law is taken extremely seriously as well; back in 2019, a bookmaker was fined $140,000 for violating this law. 

Online gambling is also a point of contention for the public as the Australian Interactive Gambling Act comes down harshly on any and all forms of online real-money gambling. 

6. No Slot Machines - Greece

bizzare gambling law greece

You can have it all in the Greek Isles, with beautiful beaches, incredible architecture, amazing food, and a nice tan, but slot machines are a big nope. Greece has strict gambling laws as well, and electronic gambling machines are straight-up illegal in the country. 

Prior to the law coming into effect in 2002, Greece was a booming market, with slot machines being a huge part of it. However, the government would argue that they were protecting vulnerable people and ended up banning all forms of electronic gaming machines, including old-school reel-based slots and video slots. 

Illegal gambling fines range from $5,000 to $500,000, depending on the severity of the situation. Other forms of gambling, like sports betting, some table games, and lotteries, are still available, though, so it's not like all gambling is illegal. 

5. No Gambling on Credit - Sweden

bizzare gambling law sweden

One of the most recent gambling laws in Sweden is an interesting one and one we can wholeheartedly support. A law passed in 2019 made it illegal to gamble on credit, and this goes from traditional land-based casinos to online casinos. 

With the law into effect, no licensed operators are allowed to offer credit to their customers for gambling. It was passed after research came out concluding that gambling on credit leads to addiction and undue financial stress on an individual. In a bid to promote healthy gambling habits, the government of Sweden has been enforcing this law rigorously. 

If an operator decides to go against it, heavy fines can be levied upon them, along with their license being revoked across the country. The fines are no joke either, as they can range from $110,000 to $1.1 million

4. No Gambling Promotions on Social Media - China

bizzare gambling law china

China and banning things have almost become synonymous over the years, so it comes as no surprise that there are incredibly harsh laws when it comes to gambling. Although gambling remains illegal throughout the country except in certain “tourism” spots, this law came into effect to tackle the problem of illegal gambling throughout the country. 

According to this law, any citizen or company cannot promote or advertise gambling or related activities on Chinese social media apps. As the government views gambling as a social issue, this law was enacted as advertisements and promotions can have a potentially negative impact on their culture and society. 

Perpetrators can expect to pay fines ranging from $750 to $80,000 if caught promoting gambling. With these fines also come active prison time and a myriad of other legal consequences for the people involved. 

3. No Betting on Single-Event Sports - Canada

bizzare gambling law canada

Going off of the Aussies, the Canadians have even stricter betting laws when it comes to sports. This ban, known as the single-event sports betting ban, was enacted in 1985 and has been criminalized since. The Canadian government had taken such a strong stance as they consider sports betting to be a game of luck and no skill, but it is in the process of changing. 

With this law, citizens are only permitted to bet on multiple sporting events where the outcome of two or more events must be predicted correctly in order to win the prize. This law would drive controversy as many believed that people would bet on unregulated overseas betting organizations. 

Thus, in 2021 the government passed legislation to make single-event sports bets legal, and it was implemented in 2022. With the massive $14 billion dollar industry, it was only a matter of time before people were allowed to take part in it. 

2. No Online Gambling - South Korea

bizzare gambling law south korea

Perhaps one of the most shocking facts in our list is the South Korean government’s stance on gambling, more specifically, online gambling. Although the country has numerous land-based casinos and sports betting is very common, online gambling is completely banned. 

Under this law, no company, be it native or foreign, is allowed to open up shop to the South Korean people when it comes to online gambling. The government also actively blocks online gambling websites every year to make sure it stays that way. According to South Korean culture, gambling is frowned upon and associated with organized crime. 

People indulging in it can face fines ranging from $4,500 to $90,000, along with a maximum prison sentence of 3 years! Despite all this, the country is a booming gambling market and ranks among the top 10 countries that gamble the most. 

1. Illegal Gambling Winnings Are Tax-Free - Finland


finland bizzare gambling law

Shocked? We were too! Finland has a thriving gambling market and operates many casinos across its cities. Alongside that, they also made illegal gambling winnings to be completely free of tax returns. As good as it sounds, you should also remember that illegal gambling in the country will land you a fat fine. 

So why was the law enacted? Despite the Finnish government having a monopoly on gambling, various illegal rings have popped up over the years, and they have been linked to organized crime. It was done with a belief that tax exemption will motivate people to report illegal gambling to authorities and prevent them from being victims of criminals. 

People operating such rings can expect fines ranging from a few thousand dollars to more than $1 million. Alongside that, they may also receive jail time for up to two years and have all of their assets seized. 

Those were some of the most bizarre gambling laws we have ever seen. Although every country has a right to decide how it feels about gambling, some have really taken a step into being downright ridiculous and unbelievable. From making gambling illegal on elephants to banning slot machines, we have seen it all. 

As funny as they might seem, these laws also come with severe punishment and fines, so it's better to be aware of them and plan accordingly. It should be a top priority to keep gambling safe, fun, and secure, and most countries have largely made it happen. What was the most bizarre law you saw on this list? 


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