Simon’s Guide to Gambling in Syria

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An aerial picture of Damascus, capital of Syria.

Gambling in Syria

 

Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a West Asian country. De jure Syrian territory borders Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest.

Syria is currently considered the most dangerous country on the planet due to the ongoing civil war. The current situation started with demonstrations against the Assad-regime in 2011, but the demonstrations soon turned into riots and full-blown armed conflicts.

However, something a lot less people are familiar with, is that before the riots started in 2011, Syria, where all gambling was outlawed for decades under Islamic law, gave a green light for the first legal casino in the country after 25 years in an attempt to re-establish legal gambling and generate new tax revenues for the government. The new casino, called the Ocean Club was located in downtown Damascus and was operated by Khaled Houboubati, the son of the famous Syrian casino mogul, Tawfiq Houboubati, who owned 3 casino in the country until the ’70s, when they were shut down due to pressure from clerics.

The provision was heavily criticised by members of the opposition and – of course – religious groups. The new casino’s opening night was new years eve 2011 and strangely, at the time of its opening – legally speaking – casino gambling was still illegal in the country. Sources describe the circumstances as “Houboubati was given the quite go ahead”* from officials.

However, it was a short-lived endeavour, as just a few months later, in March, the protests leading to the outbreak of the civil war started and in an attempt to prevent further protests, the government shut down Ocean Club after barely four moths of operation.**

Since then, there are no legal gambling operations is Syria.

Although, theoretically online gambling is illegal in Syria, authorities do not prosecute players, who play on foreign online platforms.

The state of the internet in Syria is not so rosy either. Internet penetration was 22,5% in 2012, but since then armed conflicts damaged the telecommunications infrastructure of the country. Syria experienced total internet blackouts in 2013 and 2014, more than 10 times with the longest one lasting 7*** hours in March 2014. The country also has an internet censoring system in place, although it targets mainly political content.

 

*Source: The Guardian – Syria: gambling making a quiet comeback

**Source: Last roll of dice for only Syrian casino

***Source: Computerworld – Syria hit by widespread Internet outage

 

 

 

Summary:

 

 

Casino gambling in Syria

 

Online casino gambling in Syria: illegal, players are not prosecuted

 

Casino gambling is illegal in Syria and there are no brick and mortar casinos in the country since 2011.

Internet gambling is also considered illegal, according to people online players are not prosecuted but there is no information available on online gambling in Syria from official sources.

 

 

 

Bingo in Syria

 

Online Bingo in Syria: illegal, players are not prosecuted

 

Bingo is not a popular game in the Arab world, and Syria is no exception.

Online bingo – as all other forms of online gambling – is criminalised, but players visiting foreign bingo websites are unlikely to be prosecuted.

 

 

 

Poker in Syria

 

Online Poker in Syria: illegal, players are not prosecuted

 

In Syria, poker is not a popular game either. Although, the last Syrian casino to open in the country in 2011 (Ocean Club) did have poker tables, it was closed down after 4 months of operation and a casino is not likely to be re-opened any time soon.

Online poker is considered illegal as well, however, online players are not likely to get prosecuted.

 

 

Sports Betting in Syria

 

Online sports Betting in Syria: illegal, players are not prosecuted

 

Sports betting, like all other forms of gambling in Syria, is prohibited by law. There is no information available on whether any sports books – online or offline – ever operated in the country.

Online sports betting is technically illegal as well, and gambling activities are criminalised under Islamic law. However, individual players gambling on the internet from their homes are extremely rarely prosecuted in any country, let alone in war-torn one.

 

 

 

Lottery in Syria

 

Online lottery in Syria: illegal, players are not prosecuted

 

My research did not indicate that Syria would operate a national lottery, therefore it’s safe to assume, that playing and running lotteries is illegal, just like all other forms of gambling in Syria.

That being said, players of online lotteries – although the activity is criminalised by the law – are not likely to get prosecuted if they play from the safety of their homes.

 

 

 

Bitcoin Gambling in Syria

 

Bitcoin Gambling in Syria: illegal, players are not prosecuted

 

Syrian law doesn’t specifically address neither digital currencies, nor Bitcoin gambling.

However, in practice, Bitcoin gambling is usually not directly exempt from regulations either. Many anti-gambling laws address gambling in money or money’s worth, and Bitcoin certainly falls into the latter category.

That being said, individual players are very highly unlikely to get prosecuted for playing on foreign online casino sites.

 

 

 

Online gambling websites accepting players from Syria

 

Online gambling in Syria is illegal and given the ongoing war in the country, it would be unrealistic to talk about it as any sort of online gambling market. However, there are some online gambling sites out there that accept players from the country.

 

The following online casinos accept players from Syria.

 

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

Black Lotus online casino accepting players from Syria

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

Lotus Asia online casino accepting players from Syria

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

32Red online casino accepting players from Syria

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

BGO online casino accepting players from Syria

 

 

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. 10. 26.

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Simon's Guide to Gambling and Casino in Syria
Article Name
Simon's Guide to Gambling and Casino in Syria
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This guide delves into the legal status of gambling, online gambling, bingo, lottery, sports betting and Bitcoin in Syria.
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