Thursday 11 January 2024

The Prohibition Paradox: Exploring 5 Countries That Banned Gambling

The Prohibition Paradox: Exploring 5 Countries That Banned Gambling
Gambling has long been a divisive topic, with proponents arguing for its economic benefits and entertainment value, while opponents highlight its potential for addiction and societal harm. In an attempt to address these concerns, some countries have taken a bold step by outright banning gambling. This article delves into five nations that have implemented strict gambling bans and explores the motivations behind these decisions.


Situated on the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar is a conservative Islamic country where gambling is strictly prohibited. The ban is rooted in the principles of Islamic law, which condemns activities considered harmful to society. Qatar's leaders argue that gambling leads to moral decay and social disruption, and thus, they have chosen to completely outlaw all forms of betting, including casinos, online gambling, and sports betting

Qatar's stance against gambling is not just legal; it is deeply ingrained in the cultural fabric of the nation. The government actively discourages any form of gambling tourism and enforces strict penalties, including hefty fines and imprisonment, for those caught participating in such activities.

North Korea:

North Korea, a reclusive and authoritarian state, has banned gambling as part of its strict control over its citizens. While reports suggest that there might be underground gambling operations, the government officially prohibits any form of betting. The regime views gambling as a potential threat to its authority, fearing that citizens could become addicted and divert resources away from the state-sanctioned activities. 

North Korea's ban on gambling is also tied to its socialist ideology, where individual pursuits that may lead to social inequality are frowned upon. Despite the ban, there are reports of North Korean citizens engaging in illicit gambling activities, highlighting the challenges of enforcing such prohibitions in a closed society.


Singapore, known for its modern skyline and thriving economy, took a different approach to gambling initially. However, after initially embracing the gaming industry to boost tourism and economic growth, the government changed its stance and implemented stringent regulations to curb the social impact of gambling.

The Casino Control Act, enacted in 2006, allowed for the establishment of integrated resorts with casinos in Singapore. However, the government soon realized the potential negative consequences, such as an increase in gambling addiction and social issues. To address these concerns, it imposed entry fees on citizens and permanent residents and implemented a range of measures to discourage locals from gambling excessively.

While not a complete ban, Singapore's approach reflects a nuanced strategy to balance economic benefits with social responsibility, demonstrating a commitment to mitigating the potential harms associated with gambling.

The Prohibition Paradox: Exploring 5 Countries That Banned Gambling

Lebanon, a country with a rich history and diverse cultural influences, has had a tumultuous relationship with gambling. While some forms of gambling are legal, the government has imposed strict regulations and bans on various types of betting activities over the years.

Lebanon's ban on certain forms of gambling is primarily driven by religious considerations and concerns about social issues. The government seeks to strike a delicate balance, allowing some forms of gambling to generate revenue while prohibiting others that are deemed more socially harmful. This nuanced approach reflects the challenge faced by countries trying to navigate the complex landscape of gambling regulation.


Japan has a history of strict anti-gambling laws dating back to the post-World War II era. While certain forms of gambling, such as horse racing and some types of pachinko, are legal, casinos have long been banned. However, in 2018, Japan passed a law allowing the establishment of integrated resorts with casinos, aiming to boost tourism and economic growth.

Despite the change in legislation, the implementation of integrated resorts has faced numerous delays and challenges. Concerns about potential negative social impacts, including gambling addiction and organized crime, have led to increased scrutiny and opposition. Some municipalities have opted out of hosting integrated resorts, indicating a reluctance to fully embrace the legalization of casino gambling.


The prohibition of gambling in these five countries reflects a complex interplay of cultural, religious, economic, and social factors. Whether driven by religious beliefs, socialist ideologies, or concerns about social issues, each country's decision to ban or heavily regulate gambling reflects a nuanced approach to balancing the potential benefits and harms associated with this divisive industry. As the global conversation around gambling continues to evolve, these case studies offer valuable insights into the challenges faced by nations striving to find the right balance for their societies.

Photos: Pixabay (free)