Gambling is an illegal activity, per se, in the Arab world. That’s to say it is an absolute restriction under Islamic law. Furthermore, Arab countries consider the Koran not just merely the holy book for the Muslims, but also as the equivalent of a “Constitution”. Hence, if you are caught playing card games, poker included (especially as it’s one of the card games to have originated in the West), a harsh punishment could be expected.
Many Arab countries (e.g., the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) make use of filters to block forbidden foreign websites. However, despite these filters, many players exploit loopholes to gain access to online casinos, bingo sites, and poker rooms.
Arabs Definitely Gamble
As time passes, some Arab countries are actually becoming more open to online poker games. Though statistics are a bit scarce regarding online poker play in other Arab countries, it’s clear that just like people of all other ethnicities, Arabs follow and enjoy the game of poker. On a country by country basis, the highest number of Arab online poker players hail from Lebanon, followed by the UAE (United Arab Emirates). The number of Qataris, Kuwaitis, Egyptians, and Jordanians who play poker online is also most certainly increasing.
Specifically, these trends are supported by a 2011 survey conducted by PokerTableRatings.com as well as keyword searches from those countries that are associated with gaming, including terms like “free play”, “Facebook card games”, and “Zynga Poker”. On the other end of the spectrum, however, is Saudi Arabia. With a 100% Muslim population, it’s no wonder that online poker is practically non-existent in the country.
What about French-Speaking Arabs?
Arabs from countries like Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria also exhibit an increasing interest in playing poker online. Obviously, a large amount of people from those countries communicate in French, so we examined keywords like “poker games” (jeux de poker) and “online poker” (poker enligne), and found that these were indeed highly searched for.
The Operators’ Role
Since online casinos and poker game sites are operated out of Western countries, Arab governments cannot actually prevent them from offering online poker to their countries’ citizens. That said, plenty of online casinos and poker rooms have their doors open to players from Arab countries. These include Party Poker, PokerStars, Carbon Poker, and Unibet, to name a few.
*Cardplayer Lifestyle would like to thank the staff over at http://www.online-casino-