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Poker and the law: The legality of poker in other countries

Poker is one of the oldest and most classic casino games that many people enjoy playing across the globe. It’s also one of the hardest games to learn, in which there is a great deal of strategy involved and players must study a lot of material before diving into the game if they want to be successful. 

There’s no need to despair just yet though. From many different poker hands, to different strategies for beating opponents, to navigating online poker, it can take years to become a poker master. While poker is a complex game, it is also one of the most accessible, in which there are so many different sites online where you can access a game at the drop of a hat, and even while you’re travelling or in a remote destination if it has Wi-Fi. There are also many online resources for learning the secrets of poker, so if you put your mind to it then you can become a poker master.

While poker is an incredibly accessible game in today’s digital world, the law on gambling is different in every country across the world. This means that some countries severely restrict acts of playing poker, making it difficult for residents to participate in the game. 

Below, we’ll take a look at the different gambling laws across the world that affect playing poker. 

The origins of poker

Before we dive into the different gambling laws, let’s first take a look at the origins of poker. It is thought that poker originated in the 1800’s in the Americas when French traders and Sailors embarked upon New Orleans. It is thought that today’s poker game derived from a game the sailors would play called Poque. 

There were also other European bluffing games in these early days that influenced today’s game of poker and were originally introduced by colonists and sailors. The British version of Poque was called Brag, and German sailors introduced their own version of a similar game.

Today’s game of poker is therefore a mix of different European bluffing games that has gradually been updated and modernised until we arrived at 21st century poker.  

The UK

The United Kingdom has some of the most flexible gambling laws in the world, in which it is very easy to access both brick and mortar casinos there. The body that governs gambling activity in the United Kingdom is the UK Gambling Commission, in which every UK provider must have a licence to operate. 

Not only is it easy for British residents to access poker games from UK providers, but it is also allowed and very easy for you to access international poker options too. Brits have a range of options for playing in physical casino locations, in which there are many casino resorts across the UK that offer complete leisure complexes. 

In addition to this, there is a vast variety of online providers to choose from too. Just be sure to check the site is licensed and read some other customer reviews before signing up. 

The US

The US is rather more complicated when it comes to gambling laws, in which the law can vary from state to state. Some states are more flexible about gambling than others, while many states make it difficult to access gambling online due to federal law. However, it is worth noting that online gambling in the US is not illegal as such. 

One way in which online gambling is restricted in the US is through The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), in which it is illegal for operators to process payments from US residents. 

Nevertheless, states like Nevada have some of the most progressive gambling laws, in which more than 50 million people travel there from across the world each year to seek out the Las Vegas casino experience. 


Mainland Europe is similar to the US in that there are a mix of different gambling laws at play. Countries in Scandinavia and Russia have some of the most flexible gambling laws and are able to access a wealth of online gambling sites, however countries like Germany restricted gambling heavily until 2020 when the law was reformed.

As for Italy, Spain, France and Portugal, these countries have their own national licensing systems that control gambling within their borders.


When comparing gambling laws across the world, it’s difficult to leave out one of the gambling capitals of the world. While China is very strict on gambling laws, rich businessmen from across Asia regularly travel to Macau for a classic game of poker. 

As such, Macau is now specifically a poker hotspot.

Overall, there are so many variations when it comes to the laws on gambling in each country. However, online poker has never been more accessible and as the safety of such games improves, so do the jurisdictions on gambling in all corners of the globe. 

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