How Gambling Varies in Different Maritime Boundaries

One thing that most people are not aware of is that the gambling laws that govern the sea are different from those that apply to dry land. One thing that is renowned when it comes to maritime laws is that whenever a ship is 22.2 kilometres from the coast of a nation, the waters the cruise ship is cruising on are called international waters. When in international waters, cruise ships are bound by the laws of the country where they are registered. Therefore cruise ship gamblers crossing international water more so around South-east Asia, Australia and New Zealand need to be aware of how laws vary in different maritime boundaries. Sailing into the maritime boundary of another country after leaving international waters, will have the cruise ship subjected to the gambling laws that apply in that country. This shows that if a country has outlawed cruise ship gambling in its country, cruise ship casinos entering into the waters of the particular country will have to shut down. The variation comes in on the part that we have countries that have outlawed any form of gambling and others are receptive to gambling and have legislations around them. Let us take a look at how gambling varies in different maritime boundaries.

South-East Asia

This region consists of eleven countries, for purposes of cruise ship gambling we take a look at Thailand which is among the eleven countries. Cruise ship casinos are only allowed from select port cities. This means that those port cities not selected are not allowed to tolerate cruise ship casinos. Tourism is a big part of the economy in Thailand and this move was basically to attract more tourists hence promoting the economy. This means that in Thailand Cruise ship casinos are legal but only from select ports hence docking ships have to adhere to this. In the Philippines which is another South-east Asian country, cruise ship casinos are legal, however, it is a requirement that any transactions that surpass 5 million pesos are reported to the anti-money laundering money agency.


Australia is a federal state and the federal government has the authority to enact laws that regulate gambling within Australia. States also can make some regulations that can govern the laws within their jurisdiction. Having had a track record as among the regions with the world’s biggest number of gamblers. The federal government requires that people that run casinos procure an operator’s license. On the part of cruise ship casinos, it is only Western Australia that has allowed for a conditional operation of these casinos. The condition that must be adhered to by the cruise ship owners is that the gaming should only take place within 12 nautical miles offshore. This, therefore, means that if the cruise ship goes on to operate the casino in international waters, then the same is illegal. If it operates within the maritime boundary, then that is legal. In short, cruise ships with a Western Australian registration can’t operate a cruise ship casino in international waters. This is basically to protect mainland casinos and control illegal gaming in international waters. Also, cruise ship casinos from other countries would find the interest to come into Australia.

New Zealand

New Zealand is a country that has outlawed gambling through the Gambling Act of 2003. The Act further outlaws conducting of gambling on any ship that is in the New Zealand waters. The maritime boundary of New Zealand is 12 miles from the mainland coastal boundary. When it comes to the laws of international waters, the cruise ship is bound by the laws of the country where it is registered. This means that a cruise ship leaving New Zealand and is registered under New Zealand Laws cannot still engage in any cruise ship gambling activities unless and otherwise it is registered in a country that allows gambling. What this means is that cruise ships with New Zealand registration can’t partake in any forms of gambling whether within the territory or in the international waters.


All these three regions have one thing in common. Cruise ship casinos are highly regulated. Both Thailand and the Philippines show that cruise ship casinos are allowed but the conducting of the business has to adhere to laid down laws. When it comes to New Zealand these casinos are completely outlawed within the 12 nautical miles of New Zealand. Being that the mainland laws of the cruise ship country of registration apply at the high seas too, this means that a cruise ship with a New Zealand registration can’t conduct gaming in the high seas either. For Australia, it’s only in the west that cruise ships casinos can operate but only within the maritime boundaries so as not to create an unfair market to the dry land casinos.