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Gambling laws in Pakistan and how they compare to others around the world

The 1977 Gambling Prevention Act is the legislation that rules the industry in this country.

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Like every country, Pakistan has a unique culture that often steers the country’s approach to different industries, activities, and beliefs. Islam is the most dominant religion in Pakistan, and gambling is considered forbidden within the Islamic faith, and as such there are no legal casino venues throughout the country. The enforcement is more on the bookmakers than gamblers themselves, but there are penalties for individuals caught engaging in the activity.

The 1977 Gambling Prevention Act is the legislation that rules the industry in this country. It does not address the gambling activities happening through mobile devices, since the act became effective at a time when there was no internet. However, according to the act, is illegal for any Pakistan citizen to participate in gambling.

The provincial editions of the act became effective in 1978. When the country adopted this legislation, there were already laws in place that regulated the gambling market. These include the Baluchistan, West Pakistan, Punjab and Sindh Prevention of Gambling Ordinances all of 1961.

There is currently no address on the use of online gambling, so platforms find it easy to accept bettors from Pakistan. That is not the case in France and USA where there are laws prohibiting online gambling among their citizens. Therefore, online betting sites won’t accept bettors from the two countries.

Penalties under the Public Gambling Act (1977)

The effective act provides that anyone guilty of participating in gambling may be subject to various penalties depending on the circumstances.

·        Gambling operators

Gambling operators who offer the services knowingly may have to part with a maximum fine of 1000 rupees or up to a one-year jail term, or both.

·        Gamblers at common gaming houses

If you are caught participating in the gambling acts at common gaming rooms, you may have to pay a maximum fee of up to 5000 rupees, up to one-year imprisonment, or both. It describes a common gaming house as any facility with dice, money, counters, playing cards or instruments which are evidence of gaming.

·        Gamblers caught in public

Individuals who gamble in public may be subject to a maximum penalty of 500 rupees, up to a one-year jail term, or both. In case you are caught gambling in a private facility, there is a risk of a maximum penalty of 1,000 rupees, up to two years jail term, or both.

·        Gamblers caught in private

People who are caught up more than once are subject to a maximum fine of 2,000 rupees or up to three years jail term, or both. Law enforcers have permission to access and conduct a search on any premises that they suspect to house gambling activities. However, there is a relief for tourist complexes that only admit foreigners and operates under the regulation of the relevant provincial administrations.

Betting on Horse Races in Pakistan

Horse Races in Pakistan

Horse racing bets are legal in Pakistan while other gambling bets are illegal

It has been legal to bet on horse races in Pakistan since 1979. However, there are reports of massive corruption. They throw the races when there is an edge for the bookie, most of which have ties to top figures in the government. At the moment, legal racing occurs in two clubs. One is the Lahore Race Club near the country border with India, the other one is at Karachi Race Club located close to the Gulf of Oman.

Pakistan V. UK Gambling Law

The strict gambling rules didn’t start with the 1977 Act but rather traces back to 1947 during the partitioning of the country. Despite the harsh restrictions, betting on sports is prevalent as a result of corrupt deals.

If you compare the laws and attitude regarding gambling in Pakistan, gambling regulations in the United Kingdom are much more relaxed. Sports betting activities are prevalent in the UK and across the world, especially through the internet.

The UK happens to be the leading country when it comes to gambling regulations. It is legal to engage in almost all kinds of gambling, but they face strict regulation. All betting sites must obtain a license from the national gambling commission for it to offer their services to UK bettors.

The case is different in Pakistan where police and crime syndicates have control over the odds. Horse racing is the only legalized betting activity in the country. Although that does not guarantee the safety of online gambling, it is better to wager online than do the same with illegal bookmakers.

It is possible to find gambling sites that provide legitimate services and operates under full licensing and regulations from their appropriate authorities. One that comes to mind is the well-established UK operator 888, who provides responsible gaming practices that let their players set self-limits, perform age verifications to prevent minors participation, and ask for a source of funds to avoid dirty money to flow in as well as measures to avoid compulsive gambling. No doubt it is a highly regarded online casino that is fun and safe alike.

UK operator

Gambling laws in countries near Pakistan

Neighbouring countries to Pakistan like Bangladesh, India, and China tailor their unique gambling regulations.

1.     Bangladesh

There is a lot of gambling activities in Bangladesh. That is despite the country inheriting its gambling law from Pakistan but which underwent some amendments. The penalties for an individual caught betting in Bangladesh are lighter than those in Pakistan. A person is subject to a one-month imprisonment or a fine of 100 Taka.

2.     India

The case is different in India, where the authority indicates that they wish to legalize online gambling. The government states that it would be a tactical measure to curtail corruption amongst the illegal bookmakers. But Indian punter can gamble through online betting sites provided it does not specifically block bettors from the country.

3.     Kuwait

In Kuwait, gambling is illegal but bettors can wager at offshore online bookies that accept players from this country.

4.     China

There have been a lot of struggles over a long time in the history of China. However, the current date Welfare Lottery has been in place since 1987 whose formation was a turning point for gambling. Today, China has seen major developments in gambling.

Despite the current trends where bettors are embracing online gambling, there has been no amendment to the 1977 Gambling Prevention Act. As a result, bettors from Pakistan usually access online casinos and sports betting sites without any hindrance. They use computers, mobile phones, or tablets to wager.

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