Skip to main content

Is using a VPN when gaming legal?

Is using a VPN when gaming legal?
(Image credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock)

A reliable and fast connection to online game servers can make playing games a more enjoyable experience. If you experience lag, dropouts, or latency when online gaming, it makes sense to search for software solutions to the problem.

The best VPN providers have fast servers that won’t slow down your gaming experience, and using a gaming VPN can have advantages for online game players in certain circumstances. In this article, we discuss when you might want to use a VPN when gaming, and whether it’s legal to do so.

Tom's Guide needs you!

We're looking at how our readers use VPN for a forthcoming in-depth report. We'd love to hear your thoughts in the survey below. It won't take more than 60 seconds of your time.

>> Click here to start the survey in a new window <<

What is a VPN?

A VPN is a virtual private network, an encrypted tunnel between your network and a remote network. VPNs are used extensively in business applications, but in the context of gaming, VPN providers offer online servers that you connect through using VPN software.

While the VPN software is enabled, all your internet traffic is relayed through the remote VPN server. This makes your internet browsing more private and secure.

Why would I use a VPN when gaming?

VPNs have multiple applications for gamers. First, you can use a VPN to make it appear as if you are in a different country. For example, if you connect through a Korean-based VPN from Australia, you may be able to access game servers that are only available to a Korean audience – in this case, though, the fastest VPN is essential.

Second, if your internet service provider or local network has placed restrictions on the type of traffic that’s allowed to be sent over the network, you can use a VPN to hide that you’re playing games. For example, if you’re at a school that aggressively blocks peer-to-peer networking, you can use a VPN to play your games in peace.

In some games, it’s possible to see other players’ IP addresses. A malicious person could then use that information to attack your network remotely using denial-of-service attacks. A secure VPN can be used to hide your real IP address from other gamers, protecting you from these types of attacks.

Is using a VPN when gaming legal?

(Image credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock)

VPNs have been used extensively by businesses, governments, the military, and individuals for decades to improve online security. They are legal to use virtually everywhere.

A few countries place restrictions on the use of VPNs. Russia, Turkmenistan, Belarus, Iraq, Turkey, Uganda, UAE, North Korea, and China have laws restricting or banning the use of VPNs. If you live in one of these countries, check the relevant regulations regarding VPNs.

Also, VPNs sometimes get a bad reputation because they can be used to mask unlawful activities performed online. The privacy that a VPN offers makes the illegal sharing of copyrighted material less likely to be detected, for example. Remember that while the use of VPNs is itself legal in most countries, if you use a VPN to break the law, you’re still breaking the law!

In virtually all cases, it’s perfectly legal to use a VPN when gaming, the caveats previously outlined notwithstanding.

Before using a VPN when you're gaming, though, check the terms and conditions of the game that you play. Some online games forbid the use of VPNs, and you may get banned for using one if it is detected. This is more likely in games where the use of a VPN can give you an unfair advantage, such as the ability to run multiple accounts at once.

Bottom line

A VPN can be a valuable tool to improve your connection to online game servers and protect your privacy. Check the terms and conditions of the games that you play before using a VPN, as some game providers disallow their use.

Using a VPN is legal in almost all cases. A select few countries ban or heavily restrict the use of VPNs, so check the rules for the specific country that you’re in. Although the use of a VPN can hide unlawful activity, such as sharing copyrighted material, if you perform illegal activities online while using a VPN, you could still be charged for them. 

If you want to earn more, out our guide on why you need a VPN for gaming.

What do we recommend?

As a VPN to use when gaming, no service comes close to ExpressVPN, free or paid. With over 3,000 servers in nearly 100 countries, all the security features necessary, blazing connection speeds, and reliable access to multiple streaming services, ExpressVPN is an excellent choice for those after security with no compromises.

While some users may prefer certain features of other top VPNs, it’s the best overall option for most users – and now Tom’s Guide readers can claim three months absolutely free. Check out our full ExpressVPN review for more info.View Deal

Richard Sutherland

Richard brings over 20 years of website development, SEO, and marketing to the table. A graduate in Computer Science, Richard has lectured in Java programming and has built software for companies including Samsung and ASDA. Now, he writes for TechRadar, Tom's Guide, PC Gamer, and Creative Bloq.