Simon’s Guide to Gambling in Iraq

Picture of Baghdad, the capital city of Iraq. Gambling in Iraq is illegal.

Guide to Gambling in Iraq


Iraq, officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia. The country shares borders with Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest, and Syria to the west. The country’s population is around 37 million. Iraq’s capital and largest city is Baghdad with approximately 9 million residents. The dominant religion of Iraq is Islam as around 95% of the population are Shia or Sunni Muslims.

The region was home for Mesopotamia in its earliest history. Widely considered to be the one of the cradles of civilization, the territory included Sumer and Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian empires, all native to the modern-day Iraq.  The region was part of numerous empires throughout history like the Hellenistic, Parthian, Roman, and Ottoman Empires before came under the rule of the British after World War I. After the dissolution of the Ottomans, Iraq became a League of Nations mandate under British control. As the Kingdom of Iraq, the country gained independence from the British in 1932. However, the monarchy was overthrown in 1958 and the Iraqi Republic emerged. The Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party took control of the country in 1968. The infamous dictator, Saddam Hussein ruled the country as a member of the party from 1979 and remained in charge until the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Due to the invasion, Hussein’s Ba’ath Party was removed from power and a multi-party parliamentary election was held in 2005. Today, Iraq operates as a federal parliamentary republic.

All forms of gambling are illegal in Iraq. The 1969 Penal Code of Iraq states that anyone who operates or participates in gambling activities can face a fine or jail time. The penalty for operators is greater than for the players, though.* Therefore, there aren’t any land-based casinos offering the popular games like roulette, poker, or blackjack amongst others. Online gambling is illegal too, and the government blocks foreign gambling websites. There is not much information about player prosecution for playing online.


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*1969 Penal Code






Casino gambling in Iraq


Online casino gambling in Iraq: illegal


All forms of gambling are illegal in Iraq. The reason behind the anti-gambling mindset could be the dominant religion of Islam. Islamic teachings forbid gambling as the Sharia law sees it evil, addicting, and a cause for people to forget their social responsibilities. Therefore, there aren’t any brick-and-mortar casinos in the country at the moment. Both operators and participants can face penalties like a fine or jail time if caught. Online gambling is illegal too and the government blocks offshore online casinos as well. However, there is little to no information about the prosecution of online players.



Bingo in Iraq


Online bingo in Iraq: illegal


Bingo is a quite popular game amongst players all around the world, especially in the United States. Gambling is illegal in Iraq, so there aren’t any land-based bingo halls in the country. Offshore online casinos are blocked by the government too. It is not known if players are prosecuted if they play online, though.



Poker in Iraq


Online poker in Iraq: illegal


Poker is quite possibly the most popular casino game ever created. The main reasons behind its ever growing popularity are the constant television broadcasts, the regularly held world championships, and the game’s competitive nature. Many players would argue that poker involves more skill than luck but in nature, it still counts as a form of gambling as it is mostly played in casinos to this day. Gambling is illegal in Iraq, so is poker. Online gambling is forbidden too and the government blocks foreign online casinos as well.


Sports betting in Iraq


Online sports betting in Iraq: illegal


Sports betting is one of the most common and popular forms of gambling in the world. However, gambling is completely illegal in Iraq mainly because Islam so it’s not possible for Iraqi players to bet legally in the country. The government also blocks offshore online gambling providers. It is not known whether players are prosecuted or not if playing online.



Lottery in Iraq


Online lottery in Iraq: illegal


Arguably, the lottery is the most common form of gambling out there. It is safe to say that where gambling is legal there is a national lottery. However, that’s not the case in Iraq. All forms of gambling are illegal in Iraq even online gambling. The government blocks foreign gambling websites too but this doesn’t seem to stop players from Iraq to play lotteries. For example, an Iraqi citizen won the Oregon Lottery Jackpot last year, a whopping $6.4 million.*



*Fox News: Mystery Man in Iraq Wins 6.4 Million Oregon Lottery Jackpot


Bitcoin gambling in Iraq


Bitcoin gambling in Iraq: illegal


Bitcoin is a digital currency often referred to as a “cryptocurrency” introduced in 2008. There are still debates about who exactly invented the currency. Bitcoin gained a lot of popularity over the years as an alternative mean of payment. Bitcoin gambling appeared shortly after the introduction of the currency and continues to gain popularity as more and more online casinos started to specialize in it. However, Bitcoin is still a relatively new phenomenon so only just a handful of countries issued laws concerning it. Some countries don’t recognize Bitcoin as a currency, they see it as an asset (like Norway or Lithuania for example). As of now, there aren’t any specific laws in Iraq concerning Bitcoin gambling or Bitcoin in general. However, Bitcoin trades mostly occur via the internet so Bitcoin gambling technically counts as a form of online gambling. Therefore, it is safe to assume that Bitcoin gambling is illegal too in Iraq.



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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: 2016.02.10.

Simon's Guide to Gambling in Iraq
Article Name
Simon's Guide to Gambling in Iraq
An overview of gambling's legal status in Iraq.

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