What Nations Have the Strictest Anti-Gambling Laws?

  • Indonesia implements a six-year prison sentence for those promoting iGaming
  • Anyone caught gambling in the UAE currently faces a two-year prison sentence
  • China has strict prison sentences for those marketing gambling, of five to ten years
Cards in hand with handcuffs
In countries across the globe, gambling is punished with severe consequences. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Truly high stakes

This week, news surfaced that Indonesia is cracking down on the promotion of online gambling. The Southeast Asia country is introducing a six-year prison sentence and an RP1bn (US$65,700) fine for those found to have promoted online gambling.

they were trying to influence their followers to gamble.”

The National Police Director for Cyber Crime, Brigadier General Adi Vivid Agustiadi Bachtiar, said authorities have repeatedly warned the public, in particular influencers and celebrities, about online gambling. Commenting on these influential figures, he said: “It is clear that they were trying to influence their followers to gamble.”

As a result, the cyber police have been monitoring influencers promoting online gambling and are urging others not to follow suit. Those found guilty can be prosecuted under Article 44, paragraph two along with Article 27, paragraph two of the Electronic Information and Transactions Act.

With Indonesia now taking a hard stance toward online gambling, what other nations have strict anti-gambling laws in place? VegasSlotsOnline News has found four nations with similarly draconian gambling laws.

United Arab Emirates

No anti-gambling laws list would be complete without including the United Arab Emirates, which views gambling as sinful under Islamic laws. As a result, it is not just illegal to promote gambling in the country; all forms of wagering are also illegal.

Anyone caught gambling faces a two-year prison sentence and an AED50,000 (US$13,600) fine. For illegal gambling operators, the prison sentence jumps to ten years with an AED100,000 (US$27,200) fine.

Notably, though, while the UAE has previously taken a strict approach to all forms of gambling, the government introduced a change to its Penal Code in 2020 in a bid to maintain pace with the gambling sector of other nations. 

As a result, the UAE has its sights set on its first-ever casino project. Estimated to cost $3.9bn, the Wynn Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah is expected to open for business in 2027 if all goes to plan.


Bahrain is another country in the Middle East that prohibits gambling under a certain law, the Bahrain Penal Code, Article 308.

fined 300 dinars (US$800) and face up to three months in prison

As 70% of the population is Muslim, the country is deeply rooted in the Islamic faith, which forbids gaining wealth by gambling. Those who gamble are fined 300 dinars (US$800) and face up to three months in prison. If they do it again and are caught, the fine rises to 500 dinars (US$1,300) and one year in prison.

For illegal gambling operators, they face a fine of 1,000 dinars (US$2,650) and one year in prison.

Unlike the UAE, Bahrain has no current plans to join the gambling world anytime soon.


Although Macau is one of the world’s largest gambling hubs, mainland China prohibits the activity apart from through state-run lotteries. In an attempt to tackle online gambling and cross-border betting, the government has taken stringent measures to lessen gambling’s reach.

After a growing number of operators used internet platforms to circumvent the country’s rules on gambling, the Chinese government has targeted online casinos. In particular, opening casinos or arranging for Chinese nationals to gamble can incur a fine and those found guilty of marketing online gambling face prison sentences of between five and ten years.

financial regulators blocked nearly CNY2bn ($277m) in payments

Last year alone, China identified more than 60,000 suspicious gambling-related transactions. Chinese financial regulators blocked nearly CNY2bn ($277m) in payments believed to be linked to gambling activities.


Gambling in Pakistan is illegal and has been since 1947 when the country became independent. In 1977, the Gambling Prevention Act of Pakistan was passed; however, in 2008, the government made changes to the law and enabled gambling on horse racing.

For other types of gambling, there are varying penalties.

For instance, illegal gambling operators face a maximum fine of 1,000 rupees (US$12) or up to one year in prison, or both. For gamblers caught at gaming houses, this fine rises to 5,000 rupees (US$60) and up to one year in prison or both. Those who are caught more than once, have to pay another 2,000 rupee fine (US$24) and face up to three years in prison.

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