Sharia law and gambling – In Yemen – as in the whole Muslim world – all forms of gambling are forbidden by the Islamic law (Shari’ah).
The reasons for the prohibition are twofold:
- It is unlawful for the Muslim to gain wealth by gambling.
According to the Islamic teaching, one ought to earn a living by honest, serious work, and relying on luck to gain money is contrary to this principle.
- Muslims must not participate in gambling for recreational purposes.
The reason for this prohibition lies in the addictive quality of gambling, which causes the gambler to neglect his responsibilities to society and the Creator. Interestingly, gambling is mentioned in conjunction with drinking, emphasizing the similarities between gambling addiction and alcoholism.*
Yemen also employs internet censoring technologies to block adult sites, LGBT content, various kinds of anti-muslim sites and of course online gambling platforms as well.
On top of it all, the bulk of the Yemeni population is religious and willingly complies with the laws of the Quran, therefore there are not many gamblers in the country.
There are, of course, a small number of illegal gambling clubs in the Yemen.
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- Casino Gambling in Yemen
- Bingo in Yemen
- Poker in Yemen
- Sports Betting in Yemen
- Lottery in Yemen
- BitCoin Gambling in Yemen
- Online gambling websites accepting players from Yemen
Casino gambling in Yemen
Online casino gambling in Yemen: illegal online and offline, most of offshore sites blocked, no info on player prosecution
As all forms of gambling are prohibited by the state, no casino licenses are issued to neither on nor offline operators inside Yemen.
There are no land-based casinos in the country, and the internet filtering blocks many of the major offshore online casinos as well. The software is far from perfect, tho, and some foreign operators slip through the cracks of the censor system, and they also accept Yemeni players on their sites.
These online casinos can’t be prosecuted according to the laws of Yemen. The same can’t be said about Yemeni people that play on these sites anyway, although there is no information on the internet, weather or not any of them was actually prosecuted for committing such an act.
Bingo in Yemen
Online Bingo in Yemen: illegal, offshore sites are banned, no info on prosecution of players
The Yemeni law banns all forms of gambling on religious grounds, and even a casual game like Bingo is no exception. Online Bingo sites fall into the same category as casinos and other forms of gambling and are therefore filtered by the authorities.
Exceptions exist, tho. Yemeni players are accepted on some foreign sites, and it is not likely, that individual players are rigorously monitored and prosecuted.
Poker in Yemen
Online Poker in Yemen: illegal, offshore sites are blocked, no info on player prosecution
Poker, as it is (although questionably) a form of gambling, is prohibited by the state in Yemen, as by most Arabic countries.
Online poker is the same, however, it was only last year that global market leader PokerStars pulled out of a list of countries, that are so-called “grey markets”, and Yemen was one of them. The official reasoning by Amaya Gaming, the parent company was vague, but other sources suggested, that the reasons behind the move were not at all related to the safety of players in these countries.
The reason was probably something in relation to Amaya’s pending UK licence, for which the UK requires the company to provide legal justification for engaging with markets where it does not hold a specific license.* Another reason could be the obvious lack of interest.
Sports Betting in Yemen
Online Sports Betting in Yemen: illegal, online sports betting is – in theory – illegal too, however, many foreign sites accept players from Yemen, no info on player prosecution
Wagering on the outcome of sporting events is considered gambling in Islam, therefore sports betting is prohibited in Islamic countries. Yemen is no exception. Online bookmakers are also prohibited to operate form within the country.
Foreign sites are blocked, but the system has its blind spots. Many online bookmakers who manage to circumvent the ban accept players from Yemen. Individual players, again, are unlikely to be prosecuted in any way.
Lottery in Yemen
Online Lottery in Yemen: illegal, some foreign sites banned, no info on player prosecution
Since gambling in Yemen is illegal by Islamic law, there is no national lottery, nor there are other local operators. Only a fraction of foreign online lottery sites make it through the internet filtering and they don’t all accept players from the country.
The only form of lottery in the country is the Diversity Visa Lottery*, which grants immigration rights to the US to its winners. In this particular lottery game, Yemeni people are allowed to participate.
*It’s not a real lottery game, its a draw that’s meant to fill the US immigration quotas from certain countries, regions.
BitCoin Gambling in Yemen
Online BitCoin Gambling in Yemen: presumably illegal, no info on player prosecution
Bitcoin, as a completely digital currency is not recognised as a legal currency in every country. Yemen is one of the countries where no Bitcoin laws or otherwise, any infrastructure that would relate to the use of Bitcoin exist.
That being said, it would probably still be considered a kind of material wealth, which is, according to Islam should only be obtained through honourable and earnest work. Therefore, Bitcoin casinos are no different in the eyes of the state from other forms of gambling, and therefore are prohibited just the same.
Because Bitcoin is kind of an emerging trend with its user base mostly consisting of tech-inclined early adopters, Yemen, with its 14,3%* internet penetration is not likely a country where any Bitcoin related business would thrive, even if legal.
Online gambling websites accepting players from Yemen
Regardless of the illegal status of all forms of gambling in the country and the internet filtering software used by the state, there are several sites specializing in various kinds of online gambling that do pass the Yemeni internet censoring system and accept players from the country.
There is literally no info online, on whether players in Yemen are prosecuted or not. However, my best educated guess based on my research would be that it is highly unlikely, that the Yemeni government has the infrastructure or the resources to find and prosecute individual online gamblers.
The following online gambling websites accept players from Yemen.
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Last updated: 2015.09.24.