Top 5 Weirdest Gambling Laws 

Gambling is a pretty deeply rooted part of UK culture. From sports betting, lotteries and bingo, UK citizens have enjoyed gambling for a very long time including no deposit casinos in the UK. In the digital era, online gambling accounts for roughly 35% of all gambling activities, allowing punters to bet in the UK and abroad using bonuses such as free spins. Today, individuals and operators have to be licensed by the UK gambling commission in order to offer their services to UK residents. However, before the commission was set up, gambling was regulated by some pretty strange and archaic sets of legislature.

Still, it’s not just the UK that has weird gambling laws – there are strange pieces of betting legislation in place all over the world. Of course, the US probably comes in high on the list (but only because State law versus Federal law is a whole other kettle of fish). Let’s take a look at the top 5 weirdest gambling laws, both in the UK and abroad.

5. Gambling was banned

In the UK, it was essentially illegal to place any kind of bet for the better part of 500 hundred years. However, an exception was made for horse racing, which was the only thing you could legally bet on until 1961. The 60s saw the advent of betting shops, which allowed UK citizens to pop down and place bets on any of the sports that they covered, although they didn’t expand much beyond horse racing for a while. Now, as long as you’re over the age of 18, you can pretty much bet on whatever you like. 

Still, there are exceptions. The Gambling Act of 2005 says that UK citizens over the age of 16 can play the National Lottery, do the football pools, or buy scratchcards. So, gambling for teens is technically a thing – who would’ve thought?

4. $4 or nothing

We’re branching outside of the UK now, and heading to the American south. In Kentucky, there’s a law that states that a gambler may lose $4 without consequence, but losing $5 or more allows you to sue the person you gambled with for 5 years after the event occurred. You’re even entitled to loss recovery. Imagine suing somebody for a measly $5 (around £3.5)! If the loser does not begin legal proceedings within 6 months, anyone else can file a lawsuit and has the right to recover up to 3 times the amount lost in the original bet. 

This law was actually exercised in 2018, when the actual state of Kentucky sued an online poker company for $870 million + interest, in an attempt to recover the illegal gambling losses of more than 34,000 of its citizens. However, a three-judge panel ruled that the state could not sue the company that owns PokerStars.com, because Kentucky is not a “person” under the law. What a shambles.

3. Illegal to gamble in a library

Heading back to the UK now, where the Library Offenses Act of 1898 makes it illegal to gamble in a library. We’re not totally sure who would want to host a game of poker in the library stalls, but that’s none of our business. The law also prohibits abusive or obscene language, so playing online slots is probably out of the question too. 

As the law dictates, there should be consequences for anyone who ““behaves in a disorderly manner.”  So a friendly game of cards between friends might end up causing a real ruckus in the sanctuary of a reading room – and we certainly wouldn’t want that.

2. Japanese gamblers

In Japan, it is illegal to take part in any kind of gambling. Of course, some exceptions are made, so you can play the lottery, bet on horses or at motor sport events. Given that these are fairly standard betting activities, what exactly is outlawed? Betting that you can down a pint faster than your friend? What about Pachinko, a traditional pinball-like slot game? Nobody in Japan technically considers it gambling, although an exception has certainly been made given its historical, cultural and monetary contributions. 

Japanese gambling parlors go to such great lengths to keep Pachinko up to code, that they’ll even reward players with golden tokens, rather than cash, which can then be sold at nearby exchange centers.

1. No gambling in the nude

Who doesn’t like placing a bet in the nude? We’ve all taken a walk down to our local betting shop in a big trench coat with nothing underneath, right? If you live in Oklahoma, this cherished national past-time would be considered a big no-no, but only if you’re a woman. Women may not gamble in the nude, in lingerie, or while wearing a towel. I wonder what would happen if a woman had to walk into a casino with a towel on her head and lingerie over her clothes? 

Just in case, you might not want to open a strip club/ betting shop in Oklahoma City – you’ll be shut down by authorities within the hour.

Gambling laws are generally weird

See, it’s not just the UK that has strange legislation! This is hardly an exhaustive list of all of the weird gambling laws worldwide, but it does leave a lasting impression. In some countries, betting is still outlawed altogether, and honestly where’s the fun in that? Sometimes lawmakers get it right, and sometimes they get it so wrong – but there’s never a dull moment.