Everything You Should Know About Gambling Laws in North America

Everything You Should Know About Gambling Laws in North America

As there are several countries in North America, it’s only normal that gambling laws are going to vary. To ensure you are not doing anything illegal if you choose to engage in this practice, you need to familiarize yourself a bit with each nation’s legislation in terms of gambling. Here is what you can expect from North America.


When it comes to the United States, it’s important to know that each state has the ability to regulate its own gambling laws. With the exception of Utah and Hawaii, every state allows some form of gambling. Most offer state-run lotteries.

Then, sports betting was illegal in every state until 2018 when the Supreme Court struck down PASPA. Once this act was deemed unconstitutional, every state was free to draft and pass its own regulations that concern sports betting. Since then, 23 states have legalized the practice, including Colorado, Washington, D.C., Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia.

On the other hand, casino gambling is not as widespread in the country. Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, gambling on Native American reservations is allowed and 30 states offer this option. Online gambling is available in only 11 states, including California, Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.


In Mexico, gambling is a permitted activity and the country is actually one of the fastest growing online gambling markets on the planet. In the past, residents were able to participate in gambling in land-based venues but online gambling was prohibited. However, as foreign operators were not banned from providing their services on the territory of Mexico, Mexicans were still able to enjoy the practice.

However, today, anyone with authorization from Mexico’s government can conduct gaming activities. There are currently no laws that address online gambling but authorities are working on a new gaming legal framework that would resolve all the confusion. The current legal age for gambling is 18 but it will be raised to 21 once the new legislation is passed.


While Mexico opted for a federal approach to gambling, Canada’s attitude is similar to the United States, as in that every province has the ability to pass its own laws. However, the laws are still in a somewhat grey area. For instance, gambling is prohibited unless it’s licensed by either the federal or provincial government. Moreover, there is no law stating that online gambling is illegal. With that in mind, there are various places where residents can play online casino games legally, like here. It’s also important to note that recreational players don’t have to pay taxes on their winnings.

More specifically, as the province with the highest population, Ontario has more than 25 land-based venues but online gambling is not legal. On the other hand, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, and British Columbia offer both online and traditional gambling. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick don’t offer any government-regulated online casinos but don’t prevent residents from looking for games on offshore websites.

Costa Rica

The gambling laws in Costa Rica are quite interesting. The country is known for a laidback attitude toward the practice that attracts many online operators. However, there is no specific legislation that addresses this subject. An operator that wants to establish itself needs only a data processing license, which means that it needs a physical office within the country’s territory. Costa Rica also introduced an internet gaming license which most operators apply for even though it’s not technically required to operate.

On the other hand, while Costa Rica allows operators within its borders, it doesn’t allow residents to take part in gambling activities. It is illegal to gamble on any game that has a random outcome.


In Grenada, with the exception of bingo and the lottery, all forms of gambling were illegal until 2014. The activity was made legal by the Casino Gaming Act from 2014 and the Gaming Act 2016, which means that players can freely engage in the activity. Furthermore, online gambling was not addressed in these acts so interested punters can also look for websites where they can play casino games. Additionally, there is currently no taxation system in place.


While Cuba is no stranger to gambling, the activity has been illegal in the country since 1959. Both operators and players may face charges, fines, and imprisonment if caught. While the gambling regulation from 1959 doesn’t mention online gambling, the practice is still considered illegal as it is a form of gambling. There are a few offshore websites that accept Cuban players but there are no reports on if players that participate in online gambling would be prosecuted or not.


Gambling has been legal and regulated in the Republic of Panama since 1886. Up until 1997, the only operators that could provide residents with gambling activities were state-owned. However, due to various reasons, private operators entered the market in 1997, which led to a gaming boom in the country. Moreover, since 2002, online gambling has also been present in Panama. As operators don’t have to pay any taxes, many of them flocked to the country in order to get a license. Finally, while there was a 5.5% tax on all winnings, it was removed in 2019.

With so many different countries, such varied approaches to gambling were to be expected. If you plan on visiting any of these places or moving there, remember to look into the gambling laws if you’re a fan of this activity.

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