Many countries have legalized online gambling in recent years. They seek to capitalize on online casino, poker, and sports betting revenue, rather than having this money go to offshore sites.
Legal internet gambling lets you play within the comforts of a regulated market that’s backed by the law. The downside, though, is that countries typically require you to be within their borders to enjoy their betting and gaming sites.
Some players get around this issue by using a virtual private network (VPN). The latter makes it appear as if you’re located in the relevant gambling market—even when you’re actually in another state/country.
For example, you could play at a UK-facing online casino when you’re in Canada. Yet, the VPN would make it appear that you’re in the UK.
You’re technically breaking the law in this situation. I’ll discuss whether you risk getting arrested when gambling with a VPN later on in this post.
What Is a Virtual Private Network?
The term virtual private network may conjure up images of somebody using the dark net or scamming others while remaining anonymous.
The truth, though, is that a VPN isn’t nefarious by nature. Instead, it offers practical uses to those who fear being cybercrime victims or just want more privacy.
Cybercrimes can consist of anything from identity theft to stolen banking details. Such instances are costly and/or highly inconvenient to remedy.
You can reduce the chances of being a victim of cybercrime through:
- Creating long and detailed passwords.
- Updating security settings on various sites (e.g. Facebook).
- Avoiding giving out information to sketchy websites or apps.
- Using a VPN.
None of these methods guarantee that you’ll avoid being victimized by hackers and cyber criminals. However, each extra option you use boosts the chances of staying safe on the internet.
A VPN is arguably the best way to ensure that you can safely browse the net and use online services. It encrypts your data and adds an extra layer of protection to your identity.
Normally, you access the internet directly through your PC or smartphone. This connection is fast, but it’s also not very secure and can easily be traced back to you.
With a VPN, you’re accessing the internet through a server in a different city and/or country. The VPN connection is like having a special barrier built around your connection to keep hackers away.
The remote server accesses the internet on your behalf. Therefore, your data stays secure and you appear to be located wherever the server is housed.
Why Do Gamblers Use VPNs?
Corporations became the first adopters of virtual private networks. They used VPNs to protect sensitive information that they sent over public and private networks.
However, virtual private networks eventually became much more popular and drew public interest too. Nowadays, many people rely on VPNs for personal use—including gamblers.
Your reasons for VPN gambling may vary. Perhaps you just want to keep your data secure no matter if you’re using an online sportsbook or shopping through Amazon.
But most gamblers look to VPNs when they want to play on a site that they can’t normally access. For example, you may want to play Mega Moolah slots but can’t this famed progressive online slot in your country.
Normally, you’d have no chance to play Mega Moolah under such circumstances. A VPN, though, lets you appear as if you’re in a country that can enjoy Mega Moolah.
For instance, Americans are barred from playing at PokerStars (except for New Jersey). They either need to travel to Canada or Mexico, or use a VPN to play at Stars.
But with a VPN, they don’t need to travel anywhere. Instead, they can still play at Stars by masking their location.
Is a VPN Legal?
Most governments allow you to legally use a virtual private network. However, this situation varies from country to country.
Certain nations flat-out ban residents and visitors from using a VPN. Belarus, China, North Korea, Oman, and Russia are among the countries on this list.
Other places merely have censorship laws that affect internet usage. While these laws don’t explicitly outlaw VPNs, they make using one a dicey prospect.
Penalties for illegally using a virtual private network also differ. One country might only fine a perpetrator, while another will jail the person for 30 days or longer.
You might think that the idea of punishing people for using VPNs is akin to Nazi Germany. However, most states and nations implement these laws to reduce criminal and terrorist activity—not to harass a few online gamblers.
Certain countries, such as the US, allow citizens to legally use a virtual private network. However, they can arrest those who use VPNs to commit acts that wouldn’t be possible with basic internet usage.
Examples of the latter include:
- Downloading and selling copyrighted material
- Gambling online where doing so is illegal
- Hacking into private networks
You might think that it’s possible to commit such criminal acts without consequences. However, some VPN providers note that they’re obligated to report suspected illegal behavior to the authorities.
They probably won’t report you just for playing at a real money online casino or poker site illegally. But the possibility does at least exist.
Is It Possible to Legally Gamble with a VPN?
You aren’t necessarily breaking the law just by accessing a gambling site through a virtual private network. Remember, VPNs have general uses too.
Maybe you want to play at sites that are legally available to you—just with the added protection of a VPN. You’re certainly entitled to use a virtual private network in such cases.
France, for example, features a nationally regulated internet gambling market. You can’t legally access French internet casinos if you’re in Brazil.
Likewise, you aren’t allowed to use a VPN for any purpose when located in Russia. This country bans virtual private networks no matter what you’re doing.
What Happens If a Gambling Site Catches You Illegally Using a VPN?
Now, on to the main question of this post: will you be arrested if you’re caught illegally gambling with a virtual private network?
The answer is almost assuredly no. You technically risk arrest when:
- Using such services are illegal.
- You’re gambling remotely in a market that’s restricted to you.
If you break the law, anything is possible based on whatever jurisdiction you’re in. North Korea, for example, is more likely to take serious action against VPN violators than the UK.
Generally speaking, though, you stand little chance of being arrested for illegal VPN gambling. Most law enforcement agencies have better things to do than charge people who are violating online poker laws.
The main thing you need to worry about is the sites themselves. Gambling sites usually mention in their terms and conditions that they have the right to confiscate winnings and even your bankroll under special circumstances.
Assuming you use a VPN to circumvent their blockers on certain countries, you’ll undoubtedly violate their T&Cs. Furthermore, you stand a high chance of losing your winnings as a result.
Is It Worth Gambling with a Virtual Private Network?
Ideally, you’ll be able to play at the best online casinos you want to without needing to mask your location. But this scenario isn’t always possible.
That said, you must weigh the pros and cons before choosing to gamble illegally with a virtual private network.
The main benefit is that you can enjoy the world’s best gambling sites regardless of where you’re located. This aspect is comforting when you live in a country like the US, which doesn’t have access to many premier internet gaming markets.
Another advantage involves the general perks to VPNs. You can enjoy more privacy and a securer connection through these services.
Luckily, you don’t normally need to worry about being arrested even when gambling illegally with a VPN. Few states or countries bother themselves with such matters.
The biggest downside, though, is that you could lose your winnings and entire bankroll. Every gambling site features T&Cs that give them the right to confiscate your money under specific circumstances.
Illegal VPN betting definitely falls under this definition. You may get lucky and never get caught. However, illegal VPN usage is easier to spot if you win a real money slots jackpot, sports bet, or poker tournament.
The good news is that you’ll almost certainly avoid legal repercussions when using a VPN to place illegal bets. However, you could lose all of your money on the relevant site if caught.
The ideal scenario is to stick with online sportsbooks, poker rooms, and casinos that are legal in your country. This way, you don’t need to mask your location just to gamble.
Of course, you can still brave the waters and use a virtual private network to play in other markets. You just need to be comfortable with the risk in case a gambling site does somehow discover that you’re gambling illegally.