A crucial aspect binding these nations is Islam, which plays a significant role in shaping their legal, moral, social, and economic frameworks. When it comes to the question of gambling or betting, the religious and legal perspectives of these countries are unambiguous: it is predominantly prohibited.
In Islam, any form of gambling, referred to as ‘Maisir’ or sometimes ‘Qimar’, is explicitly prohibited by the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam. The prohibition is rooted in the belief that gambling leads to addiction, financial ruin, and social decay.
Given the religious context:
Saudi Arabia: The Kingdom has some of the strictest anti-gambling laws globally. Any form of gambling, including betting, is strictly prohibited and can lead to severe penalties, including imprisonment and hefty fines. Even possessing materials related to gambling can land an individual in trouble. Online access to gambling sites is restricted, and authorities continually monitor and block access to such sites.
Kuwait: Like its neighbor Saudi Arabia, Kuwait has stringent laws against gambling. Any form of betting or gambling is illegal, whether conducted online or offline. The state maintains tight control over internet activities, ensuring that residents cannot access betting sites.
Bahrain: Although Bahrain is seen as one of the more liberal Arab Gulf states, gambling remains illegal. The state does not permit casinos or betting shops.
Qatar: All forms of gambling are illegal in Qatar. The state has invested in measures to curb the use of online gambling platforms. Tourists and residents caught participating in betting activities can face legal action.
United Arab Emirates (UAE): The UAE is renowned for its towering skyscrapers, luxury resorts, and modern cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. While there’s a perception of liberalism in certain sectors, the country still adheres to Islamic principles in matters of gambling. However, there’s a slight exception: while casinos and betting shops are illegal, the UAE permits and regulates some forms of betting on 20Bet, such as horse racing. But, general sports betting and casino-type games, including online platforms, remain illegal.
Oman: Oman, like its neighbors, prohibits all forms of gambling, including online betting. The government actively blocks gambling websites, and residents found participating in any form of betting can face legal penalties.
Consequences for Violation
In all the Arab Gulf states, those caught engaging in gambling activities can face severe penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment. For foreigners or expatriates working in these countries, getting caught can also lead to deportation. In addition, residents who visit casinos abroad and return with significant winnings may attract the attention of local authorities and be questioned about the source of the funds.
Exceptions and Loopholes
While gambling in all its forms is largely banned, there are some exceptions, mainly in the realm of horse racing and camel racing. In countries like the UAE, horse racing is a popular and culturally significant sport. Betting within the confines of these racing tracks is sometimes permitted, albeit under strict regulation.