Simon’s Guide to Casinos and Gambling in Qatar

There is a mobile optimized version of this page, view AMP Version.

A picture of Robot jockeys riding camels in a camel race in Qatar. This is used as the header image of my guide about gambling in Qatar. You can read more about gambling, lottery and poker in Qatar below the picture.

Gambling in Qatar – Robot jockeys riding camels on a camel race in Qatar.

All forms of gambling in Qatar are illegal, just as in almost all of the Islamic countries worldwide.

Qatar, officially the State of Qatar is a sovereign country located in Southwest Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It has a population of a bit above 2 million and with a per capita GDP of $145,894, it is the richest country in the world.

Given these figures, it’s no doubt Qatar could be an extremely lucrative gambling market (and it is, for illegal operators). However, as mentioned before, Islamic laws in the country strictly prohibit all gambling in Qatar and this is not likely to change in the near future. There are no casinos, poker clubs or bingo halls in the country, whatsoever. There are, however, illegal gambling dens and illegally organised poker in Qatar. Betting on camel races, that are reportedly the most popular sporting event in the country, is also widespread.

The closest thing to any form of legal game of chance in the country is a lottery, organised by Qatar Duty free, the subsidiary of Qatar Airlines. The game is similar to the Dubai Duty Free lottery, which is also the only legal “gambling” in Dubai (it’s more of a raffle).

Online gambling in Qatar is forbidden as well. According to the Qatari penal code (Law No. II. Of 2004), players caught gambling (online or offline) can face a prison sentence of up to three months and/or a fine of not more than 3,000 Riyals (approx. $824)*. However, the chances of individual online gamblers being prosecuted are almost non existent. There is no indication that authorities would make any serious attempts to find and prosecute online players. Such laws are almost impossible to widely enforce on the level of individual players and internationally.

Reportedly, the government also has an internet censoring system in place, which mainly blocks pornographic, anti-islamic and political content. However, Freedom House’s press freedom report does not indicate, that the ban applies to gambling sites as well**. Therefore it is safe to assume, that most of these platforms are freely accessible – even though, they’re technically illegal.

*Source: Law No. (11) Of 2004 Penal Code

**Source: Freedom House Report 2014 – Qatar

 

 

 

Summary:

 

 

Qatar – casino gambling

 

Online casino gambling in Qatar: illegal

 

All forms of gambling are illegal in Qatar. Therefore, even though the lavish lifestyle of locals would undoubtedly make such an operation extremely lucrative, there are no legally operating Qatar casinos.

Online casinos are outlawed in Qatar. Players can theoretically face fines for gambling online. However, the government doesn’t appear to have taken any measures to make such sites unavailable to the country’s residents. Moreover, individual players are low priority in the eyes of authorities. Although it is illegal, the risks involved in gambling in an online casino for a Qatari player are almost non existent, if done from the safety of your home in a discreet manner.

The following online casinos accept players from Qatar:

 

Banner for the Betsson online casino, which is available to players from Qatar

Betsson online casino accepting players from Qatar

Banner of the Betsafe online casino, which accepts players from Qatar.

Betsafe online casino accepting players from Qatar

Banner of the Casino Euro online casino, accepting players from Qatar

CasinoEuro online casino accepting players from Qatar

Banner of the Black Lotus online casino accepting players from Qatar.

Black Lotus online casino accepting players from Qatar

Banner of the Lotus Asia online casino, acceptin players from Qatar.

Lotus Asia online casino accepting players from Qatar

Banner of the 32 Red online casino, which accepts players from Qatar.

32Red online casino accepting players from Qatar

Banner for the BGO online casino, available to players from Qatar

BGO online casino accepting players from Qatar

 

 

 

Bingo in Qatar

 

Online bingo in Qatar: illegal

 

Bingo – apart from being unpopular in the Arab world – is outlawed in most of the Muslim countries with some degree of Shari’a law, including Qatar. There are no reported land based bingo halls in the country.

Online bingo is also technically illegal and players caught gambling online or offline in Qatar can theoretically face criminal charges. However, individual players gambling from the safety of their homes are extremely unlikely to be prosecuted. Moreover, the censoring system employed by the government reportedly does not target foreign online gambling websites.

 

 

Poker in Qatar

 

Online poker in Qatar: illegal

 

Poker is considered a form of gambling in Qatar and therefore it is illegal – just like in the overwhelming majority of countries with some degree of Islamic law and a predominantly Muslim populations. However, some reportedly conduct illegal, invitation-only tournaments and poker nights in the houses of wealthy individuals that are out of the country. Gulf News Qatar reports that the gangs usually bribe caretakers to allow them into the apartments*.

Online poker is also outlawed. Authorities appear to make no serious attempts to make such sites unavailable to Qatari residents through ISP blocks, or if they do, these are rather halfhearted. In short, Qatari players can play online poker safely, if they do it from the safety of their homes and are being reasonably discreet about it. Despite the fact that online poker is technically illegal, the ban is not widely enforced on the level of individual players.

*Source: Gangs run card gambling dens in Qatar homes

 

 

Sports betting in Qatar

 

Online sports betting in Qatar: illegal

 

All games of chance are illegal in Qatar, so is any form of wagering on sporting events. Even though camel racing is extremely popular in Qatar and there are several lavish camel racetracks in the country, betting on these races is also considered illegal. Nevertheless, as you could expect, huge amounts of money change hands during these races, through illegal bookmakers.

/An interesting fact about Qatari camel racing:
Historically, all the jockey’s in these races were children below 60 pounds to get the most out of the camels. However, this practice was banned due to human rights concerns of various organisations, the US State Department and the UN. In 2005, children were replaced with robot jockeys made by a swiss company*. Robots riding camels in the desert, watching a race like this would undoubtedly make for a fascinatingly bizarre experience./

Online sports betting is also illegal in Qatar. However, individual players are low priority cases in the eyes of authorities. The chances of a Qatari players being caught and penalised for betting online are minuscule.

*Source: Ride ’em, Robot: Qatar Offers Solution To a Jockey Shortage

 

 

Qatar – lottery

 

Online lottery in Qatar: illegal

 

Lottery is illegal in Qatar, as all other forms of gambling. There is neither a national lottery, nor any private lotteries. There is a lottery like game operated by Qatar Duty Free, which appears to be exempt from the ban, but it’s more a raffle than a lottery. At the time of writing, a ticket costs $262. The top prize is $1 million.

Foreign online lotteries are also illegal. However, authorities reportedly do not aim their efforts at individual players  and they also did not issue a wide scale ISP ban on online gambling sites. The chances of a player from Qatar being prosecuted for participating in an online lottery draw are almost none.

 

 

 

Bitcoin gambling in Qatar

 

Bitcoin gambling in Qatar: illegal

 

There doesn’t appear to be any laws restricting the use of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies in Qatar.

However, as all forms of gambling are illegal, it is safe to assume that Bitcoin gambling is illegal as well. That being said, authorities do not seem to actively prosecute people for online gambling in Qatar. If anything, players who place bets online in Bitcoin are even safer, as anonymous Bitcoin transaction add an additional layer of privacy to their activities. It is very unlikely that a player from Qatar would be prosecuted for online Bitcoin gambling.

 

 

If you have questions or any feedback don’t hesitate to drop a comment below. Please let me know in the comments section if you think we might have gotten something wrong or if you have additional information, clarification about the legal status of online gambling in this country.

This page is part of Simon’s List – Legal Status of Online Gambling – a definitive guide to the legal status of all forms of online gambling activities in every country around the world.

 

Last updated: 2015. 01. 28.

Summary
Simon's Guide to Casinos and Gambling in Qatar
Article Name
Simon's Guide to Casinos and Gambling in Qatar
Description
All forms of gambling are illegal in the rich Islamic country Qatar. However, authorities do not make serious efforts to block foreign online gambling sites, nor do they prosecute individual players.
Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *