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Bingo Laws & Legals
Online bingo has been enjoyed by many for the past ten years in the UK. In some countries, it is not quite so easy, and in fact in some countries it is illegal to play this well-loved game. Many Bingo Laws and acts have been put in place and these vary throughout the world. In some countries, it is completely illegal, and some countries allow their citizens carte blanche in online gaming. Others have laws and legislation in place to safeguard you.
UK Online Bingo Laws
It is legal to pay online bingo in the UK. Following The Gambling Act 2005 the UK (PDF) set up The Gambling Commission whose motto is "to keep gambling safe and fair for all". The commission regulates commercial gaming in all areas. This body was set up to protect players and to ensure that the gaming is conducted in a fair way, that is not a source of crime, or used to support crime. It ensures that children or vulnerable people are not affected, and that operators are subject to rules on money laundering and financial probity (that the company works with integrity, and is honest and open.
Source: Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gambling_Commission
Terms for UK bingo companies
The commission ensures that companies clearly state terms and conditions to players and that they obtain a regulatory licence in order to trade. Any company wishing to advertise its services in the UK must obtain a UK licence or one from whitelisted jurisdictions - EEA countries, Alderney, Antigua and Barbuda, Gibraltar, Isle of Man & Tasmania. These companies must allow players easy access to the rules and regulations of the game (an English version must be included), and to be able to claim their winnings within a reasonable time scale. Players must be given access to support, and any appropriate authorities should any disputes arise.
Source: Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitelisted_gambling_jurisdictions
Most UK sites do not allows players from USA, Australia, France, India, Israel, Russia, China, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Greece, The Netherlands, New Zealand, The Bahamas, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Thailand, Libya, Sudan, Nigeria, Algeria, Japan, Taiwan, Dubai, Vietnam, Bahrain, Brunei, Jordan, South Korea, Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Most UK based players can easily access sites, providing they have the correct banking platform. These include a debit card, Visa card or Mastercard.
US Online Bingo
The situation is not quite the same in the US. Following the introduction of the UIGEA - Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (PDF) which made it illegal for US Banks and payment providers to take payments for online gaming. The operators affected were those who were "engaged in the business of betting or wagering and knowingly accept proceeds from credit cards, electronic fund transfers and checks in connection with the participation of a bettor in unlawful Internet gambling, which is the sponsorship of online gambling that violates any other federal or state anti-gambling law".
Many online operators have been prosecuted over the years yet the laws in the US regarding online bingo have many grey areas, such as the term 'game of chance' which can be applied to online bingo. This has allowed the rise of US players access to online bingo once again. There has been a plethora of legislation introduced across the United States regarding the legality of online gaming with many different states allowing a variety of different forms. US bingo players can now access some reputable US sites and have the opportunity to use different funding methods which seem to sidestep some of the regulations in place (for example PayPal). It is still the case, however, that most of the major UK online bingo sites do not accept US based customers.
Since 2012, the Spanish government has brought in legislation to protect players and unite their legislative law. This previously consisted of laws being passed by different administrative areas. It also was also brought about to allow the governments to gain some tax revenue from the industry.
Spanish players, while not officially banned from playing on rest of world sites, are pretty much only allowed to play on Spanish licensed site. Because of this many of the major online bingo sites do not accept players from Spain.
Other European countries, such as Norway, also only allow their players to play on government licensed sites. While some countries (like Greece and Cyprus) do the same and haven't outright banned online bingo sites, they tend not to issue licences making it very difficult for people to find sites to play on.
Germany has a strict ban on online bingo following a Federal ban in 2008. However, the state of Schleswig-Holstein decided to pass its own act in 2010 and licensed a number of online operators. These licences were valid for six years despite the state scrapping its policy in 2012 following the Treaty in Gambling. The German government has not blocked any operations from these licences. They are apparently waiting until the six years are up, so what happens after that time remains to be seen.
Source - http://www.gamingzion.com/germany
Rest of the World
Canada has a completely different policy to the US. Despite the country being traditionally against online gaming, thanks to amendments and policies during the 1970s and 1980s, Canadians are pretty much free to play online bingo without any restrictions outside of those applied by the site of their choice.
Source - http://www.online-casinos-canada.ca/legal
In Australia, legislation is traditionally governed state by state. The Interactive Gambling Act (2001) targeted operators, and while it is not illegal to operate an online site, the law made it an offence to offer and advertise 'real cash' gaming facilities. The government seems not to enforce these rules too strictly, and it is not an offence for a player to access or use these sites. Similarly, Australian companies can offer their services outside of the country.
Most Arab countries and those of the Muslim faith have strict laws in place that ban all forms of gambling including online bingo as do countries such China, Korea, Thailand, Japan and almost all African nations.
Of course, laws and regulations change all the time with the internet being such a fast paced and constantly evolving entity. If you are ever unsure whether you can play or not always check the laws of the jurisdiction you are in, as well as the site you are looking to play on.