Many sports fans experience disappointment when they try to register a sportsbook account to notify them that sports betting is restricted in their particular jurisdiction. The good news is that gambling laws worldwide vary, and many punters can take advantage of unregulated operators in their country. The term 'unregulated' boils down to the sportsbook not being based in their country but another jurisdiction.

Several countries were early adopters and now boast expansive sportsbook markets raking in hundreds of millions annually. Some countries have rejected calls to legalise sports betting, while others have seen the benefits this online market offers and jumped at the opportunity of legalising sports betting. We'll look at both the challenges and opportunities legalised sports betting holds for a country willing to take the next step. We'll also touch on the countries where sports betting is 100 per cent legal and regulated. Following that, we'll look to the future of legal sports betting.

Challenges and opportunities


One of the main challenges online sportsbooks face is the barrier to entry. Various countries and jurisdictions have implemented laws and regulations restricting online sportsbooks from operating and getting a foothold in these particular markets. These restrictions invariably stifle any chances of sports betting being enjoyed by sports fans, with many would-be punters frustrated with their government's online betting laws.

The reasons for these restrictions are numerous, but we'll highlight several of the most prevalent perceived issues below:

Religious objections: Some lawmakers consider sports betting and other gambling forms to be a vice, an immoral act if you will, and thus prohibited by law in keeping with the country's disposition.

Lack of framework: This is often the case in developing countries where a framework that guarantees the individual's security is not readily available. The same goes for a government ill-equipped to deal with legal recourse about online sports betting. This issue creates a situation where punters could potentially lose their deposits and winnings.

Match-fixing: Several countries were rocked by match-fixing scandals involving sports betting. Not only does it compromise the game, but it also casts shame on the teams involved as well as the country's pride. India and Australia, in particular, come to mind for high-profile cricket match-fixing cases. However, Australia has also seen several National Rugby League match-fixing scandals in the past.

To put it simply, once sportsbooks are aware of match-fixing, they can manipulate the odds in their favour to maximise their profits at punters' expense. Not only is this against the law in most countries, but it goes against the spirit of sportsmanship.

Money laundering: Another issue that authorities associate with sports betting is the perceived potential for money laundering. Authorities have indicated they consider it plausible for alleged sports betting wins to conceal the origins of illegally obtained money – money laundering. 

Loss of tax income: Another fear shared by lawmakers is the potential loss of tax income at the hands of sports betting, including registered and unregistered sportsbooks. The presence of unregistered sportsbooks poses a significant tax issue for governments. Simultaneously, the taxable income that's either not declared by punters or flagged by registers sportsbooks as the amount is subthreshold poses a tax risk for governments.

Gambling disorders: Many countries restrict sports betting to protect individuals susceptible to problem gambling and gambling disorder. These updated terms relate to gambling addiction and pathological gambling, respectively.


Governments that boast legal and regulated markets have found that the introduction of online legal sports betting offers a host of fantastic benefits. These range from increased tax revenues to job creation.

Increased tax revenue: The legalisation of sports gambling, along with online gambling, has proven to be financially viable, with global markets in 2019 reporting a market size of no less than $216 billion. Naturally, countries benefit from casino and sportsbook tax revenue, with the gambling markets generating hundreds of millions in annual tax.

Employment opportunities: Sportsbook, like any other business, need people to operate, and in this particular instance, the legalisation of sports betting would employ a considerable amount of people in different sectors, ranging from the private sector to the public sector. In 2019 records show that 25,903 registered sportsbooks employed 228,95 people in countries where gambling is legal.

Regulation and bettor safety: Once sports betting has been legalised in a country, the industry can be regulated, giving punters the peace of mind that they're dealing with accountable businesses. These sportsbooks have to comply with laws and regulations that have been implemented to safeguards punters' interests. Punters now have access to legal systems to recover funds and to settle any possible disputes.

Statistics and data: Legalisation provides the country with statistics and data as the sports betting market now functions transparently. The data is essential for medical and psychological studies such as the rate of problem gambling, self-exclusion, and others. 

Countries where sports betting is legal

This guide on international sports betting can provide you with more details about each country's different laws and regulations. It answers pressing questions such as: is sports betting legal in Europe? When did sports betting become legal?

South Africa: Sportsbooks have been operating legally in South Africa for quite some time. The sports betting market has experienced massive growth in the last five years, with many competitive sportsbooks currently available. It's safe to place your wagers with sportsbooks as the market is regulated by the Western Cape Racing and Gambling Board. You can look forward to popular sports such as cricket, rugby, soccer, tennis, horse racing, and more. Horse racing is currently the only betting market that's taxed by the South African government. Try your luck with BetNow.

United Kingdom: The UK sports betting market is revered as the oldest market with the most developed international gaming community laws. Sportsbooks in the UK are 100 per cent legal and licensed. The UK Gambling Commission regulates all forms of gambling for UK citizens, making it the world's safest betting jurisdiction. You'll find all of the popular sports in the UK sportsbooks, although UK citizens favor soccer, tennis, and horse racing. You have the option of using Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Skrill, Neteller, and Bitcoin as depositing methods. The UK implemented an additional 15 per cent tax on foreign-based UK bookmakers, but players based in Malta are only looking at a five per cent gaming tax. Play at MyBookie now.

Australia: Sports betting in Oz is incredibly popular and lucrative. The market generates close to a billion dollars in revenue every year, making it one of the biggest gambling countries. Sports betting is legal and licensed, with Australian sportsbooks following a rigid set of gaming laws. With so many sportsbooks vying for punters' attention, you're sure to nab a great bonus. Like South Africa, the top sports are rugby, cricket, horse racing, tennis, and soccer. Give it a go at SportsBetting.

New Zealand: Legal Sports betting in New Zealand is a growing market that is both legal and licensed. The best sportsbooks in New Zealand offer competitive odds on in-play rugby, cricket, soccer, and all the popular favourites. Get ready for great bonuses and a wide variety of depositing methods. Bet at now.

Philippines: International online gambling operators have flocked to the Philippines, making it a hub of sports betting in Asia. Filipinos love to bet on sports, especially basketball, which is wildly popular in the island nation. You'll find all other popular sports, especially US-based sports, at these legal and licensed sportsbooks. Look out for great payment methods, including all major credit cards, Litecoin, Bitcoin, and other cryptos. Get in on the action with Bovada.

The future of legal sports betting

The big question is, will sports betting become legal? A simple answer is yes; it's just going to take time. The financial implications are such that it would be unwise for countries to restrict sports betting.

Many countries worldwide have embraced sports betting; however, some heavy hitters are yet to implement sportsbooks into its economy fully. America is a prime example of this, with strict regulations stifling the smooth implementation. However, certain American states are set to legalize all forms of sports betting soon, with many states already passing laws that enable sportsbooks to operate at brick-and-mortar sites and online sites. 


The future of sports betting legalisation in the world is set to be exciting, with a number of American states indicating that online sportsbooks will soon become a reality. Countries that initially displayed hesitation to invest in sports betting, will surely be swayed by the dramatic benefits that legalised sports betting offers, such as an incredible boost to the economy and job creation. Ideally, online sportsbooks will become quite common in the future, affording citizens the freedom to bet on their favourite sports in their own country without any restrictions at all.

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