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Is Betting Legal in Sri Lanka?

Like many other countries, Sri Lanka, too, has seen an increase in online betting numbers, but the concept is relatively new to its citizens, considering the fact that betting was legalized only in 2010.

The legal landscape surrounding online gambling and betting in Sri Lanka is complex since their rules vary between the nine provinces. Initially, in a move to discourage gambling activities, the local government imposed higher taxes on land casinos, which, in turn, increased their entrance fees. Conversely, the local authorities did not prevent their citizens from engaging in betting with international online bookmakers, who seemed to have hugely benefited from the move.

In Sri Lanka, there was a complete ban on gambling till 2009. However, seeing it as a resource to boost the economy, the country opened its doors to online betting in 2010, resulting in its gradual acceptance and popularity among the citizens. Today, online betting is legal in the country but requires you to follow certain norms.

This page will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the legality of betting in Sri Lanka, including regions where it is banned, license requirements for bookmakers, and age restrictions, to name a few.

Which Sri Lankan Provinces Have Banned Betting?

With Sri Lanka having opened its local market to online betting, none of crypto betting sites its nine provinces outright banned betting activities. The government, though, shut down several casinos in Colombo due to their illegal nature of operations. In order to make the system more transparent, the government also imposed a ban on crypto betting sites.

Regardless of the ambiguity surrounding local gambling laws, numerous offshore gambling companies have managed to leave a mark on the local residents. By signing up with them, you can bet on a wide variety of sports and leagues from all over the world. The good thing is that these online betting sites are completely legal in Sri Lanka.

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One of the downsides, however, is that many of them do not accept Sri Lankan Rupee. Nevertheless, you can transact using other currencies like Indian Rupee, US Dollars, Euro, and Pound Sterling, and they usually come with a transaction fee.

Below is a table highlighting the different provinces of Sri Lanka and their prevalent status of online betting.

Province Legal
Central Province Yes
Eastern Province Yes
Northern Province Yes
Southern Province Yes
Western Province Yes
North West Province Yes
North Central Province Yes
Uva Province Yes
Sabaragamuwa Province Yes

Can I Bet at an Online Bookmaker From Sri Lanka?

Yes, irrespective of how vague the gambling laws are in Sri Lanka, its residents can sign up and engage in betting with online bookmakers. Over time, many betting companies have set up online shops, making it important for you to pick a reputable one in order to get the best experience.

Below is a guideline on how you can get started with online betting in Sri Lanka.

  1. Know the local gambling laws: By learning the regulations in your province, you will know if there are any gambling impositions. While the provinces do not ban gambling outright, it cannot hurt to be knowledgeable
  2. Choose a bookmaker: Make sure that you research different bookmakers operating online in Sri Lanka. Review websites, especially, will give you an honest feedback about their services, in turn helping you arrive at a decision
  3. Register with the bookmaker: Become an official member with your choice of the bookmaker by creating an account with them. Provide all the essential information required by them such as name, address, phone number, etc.
  4. Verify your account: Verifying the account is one of the crucial stages after registering with a website. This ensures the security of your account and ensures that you are able to withdraw funds in the future
  5. Make an initial deposit: After setting up your account, make your first deposit in order to access different games. Choose one from the listed payment methods and complete the transaction
  6. Start betting: Having made the deposit, the website now becomes open to gambling activities. Explore the numerous gambling options and bet on your favorite games
  7. Download the app: Most bookmakers have a ready betting app that you can download. It will comprise the same features that you find on the website, and the added advantage is that it will allow you to bet even while on the go

How Old Do You Have to Be to Bet in Sri Lanka?

Like many countries, Sri Lanka, too, has a legal age set for gambling, which is 18 years. Be it gambling at a land casino or online casino, you need to be 18 years or older to participate in it.

Online bookmakers are required to follow the age verification process so as to make sure that their members are of legal age. They are governed by their respective local authorities in their country of registration overseeing the activities of the casino, and any unscrupulous practice can result in their suspension of license and subsequent disbandment.

You must ensure to comply with these rules, because providing wrong details may lead to your account being blocked.

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Which Gambling Licenses are Trustworthy?

In the online betting industry, licensing is an integral and mandatory part without which a bookmaker cannot set up their business. It was only a few months ago that Sri Lanka established a Gambling Regulatory Authority, which has been tasked with overseeing the gambling industry in the country and ensuring that taxes are regularly collected.

In compliance with the industry’s norms, you will find that most offshore bookmakers are accurately licensed and regulated by reputable authorities.

Some of the most prominent licensing authorities include:

  • United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC): The main job of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) is to regulate online gambling activities in the United Kingdom. Since its establishment in 2007, the UKGC has issued gambling licenses to numerous companies and is held to high standards when it comes to player security and fairness
  • Malta Gaming Authority (MGA): The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is another reputed regulatory authority in the gambling industry. Online gambling companies licensed under MGA sign up for stringent regulations
  • Curacao eGaming: A wide range of gambling companies license their services with Curacao eGaming. It is not as notorious as the MGA when it comes to stringent regulations, but is renowned for its oversight of operations
  • Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission: The Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission oversees gambling operations in the Isle of Man region. As part of the job, the professionals make sure that all gambling activities are carried out with fair play in mind and provide transparency
  • Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (GRA): The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (GRA) is responsible for overseeing gambling operations in Gibraltar. Along with fair play and compliance with gambling laws, it ensures consumer and data protection

These are just some of the gambling authorities that oversee the activities of bookmakers in different parts of the world. If you come across names other than these, you can always conduct background research for safety assurance.

Conclusion

As a result of undefined regulations surrounding gambling, online betting lands in a gray area in Sri Lanka. While the activity is practiced in different parts of the country, there is no law that absolutely names gambling as legal or illegal.

If you live in Sri Lanka you can access numerous online betting sites and bet on all the sports you want. The government of Sri Lanka is constantly developing new laws, which may eventually bring some clarity to the legality of gambling.

Meanwhile, you can bet on different sports while ensuring that you are of the legal age and comply with the rules set by your chosen bookmaker.

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