The Status of Online Betting in Pakistan

Like most international countries, Pakistan has a slightly confused approach to regulating online betting and casino gameplay.

This was born out recently, when international sporting giant Bet365 was landed in hot water having been granted permission by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to live stream sports matches via its betting app.

In this post, we’ll assess the true status of online betting in Pakistan, while asking what you need to know as a punter in the region!

Is Betting Legal in Pakistan?

Let’s start with a basic assertion; gambling as a whole is strictly governed in Pakistan and has been illegal for much of its modern history.

The same principles apply to online betting in Pakistan, with domestic operators existing largely underground and forced to operate by stealth.

This is largely due to the prevalence of religious laws expressed in the Shariah, which directly prohibit betting in all shapes and sizes.

Fundamentally, online betting is not legal in Pakistan, with this explicitly written in law and accompanied by a potential fine of 1000 PKR (and a possible prison sentence) for those who flout this legislation and access domestic operators.

Unlike in some nation states, this law is taken relatively seriously, with this having something to do with the fact that there are several hundred arrests related to the legislation every year in Pakistan.

However, there is a de facto grey area that exists within the legislation, and this is something that’s commonplace in international gambling laws. More specifically, the authorities are taking an increasingly relaxed approach to how and when residents spend their cash, while punters can also take advantage of a loophole that doesn’t expressly prohibit citizens from wagering with established overseas operators.

These include significant and heavily regulated global brands such as Betway and Bet365, which boast reputable licenses and are currently accessible to Pakistan punters nationwide.

Therefore, most people tend to pick reputable brands where they can bet online by considering expert analysis like this one.

So, by ensuring that you wager with a reputable international brand rather than a domestic operator, you can bet freely online within your home and without the fear of breaching Pakistan law.

What to Look for in Pakistan Operators

The first thing you’ll need to look for is reputable licensing, with the best brands having been fully reviewed and regulated by authorities such as the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the Malta Gaming Authority.

You should also focus primarily on using betting sites that boast 128-bit SSL encryption as a minimum requirement, with this ensuring that your personal and financial information is virtually unhackable. Fortunately, this is a standard feature of reputable international sites such as Bet365 and William Hill, but it’s worth keeping in mind when comparing sites.

Beyond transparency and security, another key consideration is the average payout available through each individual operator.

This is calculated as a so-called “return-to-player” (RTP) rate, which estimates the average amount that you can expect to recoup for every £1 spent. Interestingly, this can vary wildly from one operator to another, so choosing the right betting brand can improve your bottom line returns considerably.

For example, Betfair is available in Pakistan and boasts an average payout rate of 94.83%, marginally ahead of William Hill (94.82%) and the aforementioned Bet365 (94.25%).

Conversely, the less-revered TitanBet and Fansbet offer average payout rates of 91.00% and 91.53% respectively, and this represents a marked difference for punters who like to wager on a regular basis.

You’ll also want to compare the range of betting markets on offer through different operators, as these often vary wildly from one brand to another.

While most international operators will offer access to a huge range of sports and betting markets, some provide a more comprehensive reach than others and may potentially allow you to target different wagering options and odds.

Cricket remains the single most popular sport in Pakistan, so most operators active in the region offer access to a wide range of standard and in-play betting markets across an array of international tournaments.

This is why online betting activity spiked considerably in Pakistan back in June, when the national cricket team arrived in England ahead of a highly-anticipated three-match test series.

Horse racing is also well-represented in Pakistan, with this type of sports betting actually fully legalised back in 1979. Football and even field hockey are also popular betting markets in Pakistan, so you’ll find plenty of relevant options when accessing your chosen sportsbook online.

However, we’d recommend that you compare sportsbooks and review the full range of markets on offer before making a firm commitment, as this will have a significant impact on your overall gambling experience.

The Last Word – Don’t Forget the Welcome Offer

On a final note, you should also pay attention to the welcome bonus being proffered by an operator before you make an informed decision.

Once you’ve created a select shortlist of potential operators based on their average payout and the range of betting markets on offer, the next step is to consider each individual welcome package and determine precisely how much free gameplay you can access through the site.

Try to measure the welcome offer against the average payout rate to understand the value proposition on offer in greater detail too, as this also leads to more informed decision making.

For example, William Hill is currently offering a $30 free bet when you initially wager $10, creating a bonus that’s even more impressive when you consider the site’s average payout rate of 94.82%!

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