Gambling in the Middle East and North Africa



Gambling is heavily restricted in the Middle East and North African territories due to the influence of Islam. Despite this, people in the region still enjoy a flutter. The very roots of gambling are said to have originated in this part of the world.

A Brief History of Gambling in MENA

The Assyrian Empire covered a region including modern day Turkey and Iraq. It dates back as far as the 25th century BC. Evidence shows these people were betting on events in the style of a modern-day bookmaker. Horse racing has a long tradition in this part of the world, not to mention camel racing.

Every thoroughbred racehorse in existence has at least one of three horses in its pedigree, dating back to the 17th century. One originated in North Africa and the other two, most notably the Darley Arabian, hailed from the Middle East. The multi-million-dollar horse racing industry today is propped up by money from the royal families of Qatar and the UAE.

The Dubai World Cup is one of the racing calendar’s premier events and its showpiece race carries the biggest prize in the world. A frequently asked question about the Meydan racecourse from foreign visitors concerns whether or not they can bet. Imagine the confusion when they discover the answer is “no.” A global racing powerhouse; the world’s richest race; but you are not allowed to back your selection.

How To Gamble in MENA Countries

There is clearly a rich history and deep connection to gambling in the region. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people in the modern-day Middle East like an occasional wager. But what can you do to safely gamble when the majority of your compatriots’ frown upon the practice?

It’s all about knowing where to look. Countries such as Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt have casinos that permit legal gambling. Residents and tourists in these territories will have no problems indulging in a spot of Texas Hold’em or Seven Card Stud in a physical casino. Citizens of neighboring countries can take a short vacation to get involved.

If you are not able to attend a physical casino in the region, you will need to turn to the internet. Most countries in the Middle East and North Africa will automatically block any kind of internet gambling site. No matter whether it’s poker, sports betting or casino, you won’t be able to access such web pages or apps without assistance. Therefore, you’ll need some kind of VPN.

Virtual Private Networks

A VPN allows you to anonymously send and receive data over the internet. It offers privacy and protection, but more importantly for online gambling, they mask your IP address. This is the number that pins your device to your real location. If your computer is able to represent an IP address from a different country, you are free to visit wagering sites.

If you need assistance finding the right VPN, not to mention help with picking out the right casino site, fear not. There are so many people looking for assistance that casino comparison sites now exist. Such tools help you track down a safe and affordable VPN to facilitate your casino gaming.

They also review the best Arabic online casinos, comparing payment methods on offers like e-wallets, credit cards, and mobile money options. You’ll learn where to collect the best welcome bonuses, whether it’s a free spins promotion or a no deposit bonus. Basically, everything you need to know about online casinos can be found on these comparison sites. Is the casino properly licensed? Do they offer slots, table games, or live dealer products? Right down to the customer support channels.

Online Lottery

One area of gambling we haven’t yet covered is lotteries. There are a few completely legal lottery games that can be accessed even without using a VPN. The more liberal countries like Lebanon and Israel offer such games, but in 2020 even the UAE launched its Emirates Loto.

The game complies with Sharia by requiring players to purchase goods. These collectible tokens depict famous sites and attractions from the country. Once you complete the transaction, you’ll have the option to enter a prize draw. Buying the collectible is essentially purchasing a lottery ticket.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor