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The Legality of Online Gambling in Bangladesh

All Bangladeshi folks who want to engage in online gambling will realize that they are spoiled for choice when it comes to picking betting sites to settle on. All the top search engines including Google return dozens upon dozens of results when folks search for Bangladesh betting sites. To many, this is an indicator that online gambling is permitted by the Bangladeshi authorities. If the authorities didn’t want or do not permit online gambling in the country, there wouldn’t be such a high number of ‘Bangladesh betting sites’, isn’t it? Well, this isn’t the case at all. There is more at play when it comes to the legality of online gambling in Bangladesh and this is what we are going to explore.

Online Gambling – Is it Legalized or Not

A seemingly simple question like “Is online gambling legal in Bangladesh?” requires a straightforward Yes or No answer isn’t it. Uncharacteristically, there is no simple answer to this question. The laws that govern Bangladesh including those that specifically deal with the gambling subject are all silent when it comes to the question of online gambling. This isn’t surprising considering that The Public Gambling Act of 1867 has had a few amendments since it was passed as the main gambling law. Its provisions are all dated and hence make no mention of ‘electronic’, ‘internet’, or ‘online’ gambling.

While some laws also mention instances of gambling such as the Penal Code 1860, Contract Act 1872, and the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (Amendment) Ordinance 1976, these are also dated and ambiguous in that they don’t mention online gambling. Owing to this, the only straightforward answer that can be given to the question ‘Is online gambling legal in Bangladesh’ is that currently, online gambling in Bangladesh lies in a legal gray area. Online gambling is neither (explicitly) prohibited nor is it permitted. Online gambling as such can be said to be regulated currently by the broader gambling laws as encapsulated in The Public Gambling Act 1867.

Online Gambling as Regulated by The Broader Public Gambling Act 1867

Legality of Online Gambling in Bangladesh

Fortunate or unfortunate, Bangladesh is unique in that it hasn’t drafted and passed its own gambling laws. The main law which regulates gambling activities in the country was inherited from India. With India and Bangladesh both sharing the same British culture derived from their time as British colonies, Bangladesh authorities just saw it fit to follow the same rules and regulations as those passed by India.

As derived from The Public Gambling Act 1867, most gambling activities are prohibited in Bangladesh. There are however a few exceptions which are as follows:

  • Horse racing and dog racing: Only permitted when players place their bets on the day of the race in dedicated spaces and at licensed bookmakers
  • Games of “mere skill”: While the Public Gambling Act roundly prohibits casino games, it leaves room for games of skill. While the Act does not explicitly state what games of skill are, many have interpreted such games to be games like poker where mastering gameplay strategies may aid one to excel and win when playing the game. Games like poker are thus considered games of skill. Demonstrating that this is indeed the case, while there have been several cases brought to the courts for engaging in all sorts of games, not even one case has been brought in which the accused is charged for playing poker
  • Lotteries: The lottery is one form of gambling which is openly permitted by the Public Gambling Act. Prospective lottery operators who pledge to channel their proceeds to charity and other good causes are often granted permission to run lotteries.

Engaging in Online Gambling at Offshore Betting Sites

Legality of Online Gambling

The presence of just the Public Gambling Act 1867 which is silent when it comes to the question of online gambling means the legality of online gambling in Bangladesh currently lies in a legal grey area. This in turn leaves the room for players to engage in all sorts of online gambling activities as they know that doing so is not an offense. The route taken by most players is to play at offshore betting sites.

Several offshore betting sites have thus extended their area of coverage to include the Bangladesh market. Pulling these offshore betting sites to Bangladesh are various factors which include:

  • Absence of Licensing Fees: Offshore betting sites do not have to pay any licensing fees as there isn’t a gambling authority in Bangladesh
  • Huge Gambling Market: Bangladesh is home to over 160 million people. This makes it a huge and ripe market for betting sites to tap into
  • Huge Uptake of Offered Betting Services: In recent times, the Bangladesh cricket team has started to compete and stand head and shoulders above other established cricket teams in the world. This has had a direct influence on the popularity of the game in the country. That support has led to an influx of punters interested in engaging in cricket betting. Betting sites that serve the Bangladesh market know that they have a ready market willing to buy into the offered betting services.

Bangladesh’s Explicitly Banned and Prohibited Online Gambling Activity

While the main gambling laws in Bangladesh are dated and in part ambiguous, this isn’t the case with financial laws. The country’s financial laws are well-updated, direct, and strict. An example of this is the fact that the use of Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) is prohibited. Digital currencies are not considered legal tender and those who trade using them once caught will be convicted and face up to 12 years of imprisonment. Though the online gambling environment lies in a legal gray area, players are recommended not to use cryptocurrencies for wagers as they may be prosecuted under the financial laws.

Round Up

A straightforward answer to the question of online gambling legality in Bangladesh is that online gambling currently lies in a legal gray area. Players can engage in any form of online gambling at offshore betting sites without breaking any law. For the authorities, this is a huge loophole that they have to plug by putting in place gambling laws and policies as online gambling is here to stay. Failure to do this will just see the country lose crores of takas as players resort to offshore betting sites that do not pay any licensing fees and levies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1. Is online gambling legal in Bangladesh?

At the present moment, there are no explicit laws regulating online gambling in Bangladesh. This means online gambling currently lies in a legal gray area.

Q2. Are there any forms of gambling permitted in Bangladesh?

Yes, according to the Public Gambling Act of 1867, horse racing, dog racing, games of mere skill, and lotteries are permitted under certain conditions. These largely include engaging in gambling in dedicated spaces at licensed bookmakers. For horse racing and dog racing, bets are only legal when placed on the day of the race.

Q3. Can I deposit using Bangladesh takas at offshore betting sites?

Yes, some top offshore betting sites accept deposits when using the Bangladesh taka.

about the author

Prince Kupa

Prince Kupa is an online gambling enthusiast who likes to stay in touch with all the latest trends in the gambling industry. From sports betting to casino games, Prince is your number one plug for all things gambling