According to Pakistani law, gambling activities of all sorts are heavily restricted in Pakistan. This does not come as a surprise considering that in most Muslim-majority countries gambling is illegal, such as United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Lebanon.
While gambling, in general, is forbidden under Pakistani law, there are still some exceptions thanks to which Pakistani residents can engage in certain games of chance. In the following sections, we take a deeper look at the legal status of gambling in Pakistan, the country’s main regulatory law, and everything you need to know.
The Legality of Online Casinos in Pakistan
As mentioned at the beginning, engaging in gambling activities is strictly forbidden for residents of Pakistan according to the Prevention of Gambling Act which has been enforced since 1977. The Act, which forbids gambling activities in the country, is based on the Public Gambling Act of 1867. This law was brought into effect when Pakistan was under British rule. British rule ended in 1947 when Pakistan became a sovereign country.
According to the Public Gambling Act enforced in 1867, offering games of chance at public houses was punishable by law. According to the same Act, engaging in public gambling was also punishable by law. The main goal of the act was to prevent individuals from opening gaming houses in Pakistan. Penalties for operating such establishments in Pakistan were very strict and the situation is no different today.
The Act of 1867 was replaced in 1977 by the Prevention of Gambling Act. One year later, several provincial versions of this law were brought into effect. These replaced previous laws, including the 1961 Punjab Prevention of Gambling Ordinance, 1961, Baluchistan Prevention of Gambling Ordinance, 1961 Sindh Prevention of Gambling Ordinance, and 1961 West Pakistan Prevention of Gambling Ordinance. Under each of these laws and acts, games of chance were strictly forbidden.
At the time when the Prevention of Gambling Act was enforced, online casinos did not exist. As of today, there are no separate laws that would regulate online gambling activities in the country. The Prevention of Gambling Act enforced several decades ago has not been amended in any way to regulate iGaming. At the same time, the Pakistani iGaming sector is meant to be regulated by the Prevention of Gambling Act, even though the act itself does not mention anything about it.
While official iGaming is illegal in Pakistan, Pakistani residents can register and play at many international online casinos. For some of the best online casinos for Pakistani players, check this site. International ones can cater simply because the main Act does not cover online bets. Like with many other countries whose gambling laws have not been amended for years, authorities in Pakistan cannot efficiently enforce online gambling bans.
What Can Happen If You Gamble Online in Pakistan?
According to a report by DataReportal, Pakistan was home to over 227 million people in January of 2022. Also estimated in January of 2022, there were over 82 million active Internet users in the country which represented around 36% of the total population. In one year, the number of active Internet users in Pakistan increased by over 22 million.
One report released on mobile connections in the country revealed that there were over 186 million mobile connections in the country at the beginning of 2022. The total number of mobile connections in Pakistan increased by over 9 million in the last twelve months.
With the rising number of mobile connections in Pakistan and the internet getting faster and faster, the Pakistani online gambling industry has been on the rise despite those strict anti-gambling laws. We discussed the law, but we did not mention penalties.
According to the Prevention of Gambling Act, individuals who engage in gambling activities of any kind can face up to five years of imprisonment. In addition, they may be ordered to pay a fine of 1,000 PKR. There have been cases of foreigners getting deported from the country for breaking these strict anti-gambling rules.
Pakistani residents who engage in gambling activities can also face other serious consequences. For instance, Pakistani authorities can press money laundering and illicit conduct charges against residents who have registered and played at online casinos. Essentially, for Pakistani players, placing real money wagers at online casinos and running games of chance may bring the same legal consequences.
Pakistan may have very strict anti-gambling laws in place, but the current legislation is solely focused on land-based gambling activities. With this being said, there is no wonder why the country is home to many gamblers who enjoy both online and offline gambling sessions.
Is It Safe to Gamble Online?
Despite Pakistani authorities’ opposition to all forms of gambling, we can say that it is safe to gamble online in Pakistan. There were no reported cases of Pakistani players being prosecuted based on their iGaming activities. In fact, Pakistani players would need to be extremely unlucky to face any charges for online gaming. There has been a major rise in the popularity of online casinos and online sports betting sites in the several last years.
Pakistani authorities have tried to block these sites. They succeeded in some ways. Pakistani gamblers can easily find loads of different international sites to gamble online. These are well-trusted, reputable sites that operate in many other jurisdictions. Some are licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority which remains the most trustworthy iGaming regulatory body, alongside the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. Essentially, strict anti-gambling laws in Pakistan have not prevented Pakistani fans of online casinos to play at a wide range of great iGaming platforms.