Best Online Casinos in Saudi Arabia
In case you are not aware, the majority of Muslim countries actually do not allow gambling. In many countries of the Middle East, both players and businesses are to face severe punishments. However, Saudi Arabia leaves the majority of the Middle East countries behind both in the level of prohibition applied, and in the level of persecutions taken.
While gambling is prohibited by Islam, to be honest, at some states occasional gambling is turned a blind eye to. Land based casinos are not allowed, but the government does not make police run around and check every potential players entertaining at a website – like online casino UAE. Yet, Saudi Arabia literally hunts players down, and even organizes official raids around places were gambling can potentially take place.
If you think that with online gambling, you are safe – nothing can be farther from truth. On the one hand, internet service providers are demanded to block any gambling sites, and the banks are not allowed to process transactions, as well. So, in case you still want to make bets online at a casino that accepts Saudi players – you can do so only at your own risk.
On the other hand, there are many really legitimate, reliable and safe online casinos that provide services to Saudi players – you may check NetEnt online casino list to find those. Companies behind these casinos would have loved to acquire a local license, but no such is ever issued. So, they continue to offer entertainment to the players from Saudi Arabia. Below, you can check out the list of the best online casinos Saudi Arabia.
List of Online Casinos for players from Saudi Arabia
History of Gambling in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia government is an Islamic monarchy formed back in 1932. Back then, four regions were united into one country, an absolute unitary monarchy. This one of the really few absolute monarchies that still function in the modern world. All laws are based on the Koran, and even everyday life of Saudis is guided by the Islam.
Now, gambling has been under prohibition since the very dawn of Islam as religion. Prophet Muhammad announced that all betting and games that could involve betting were “maisir”, which is translated as “the work of Satan”. The only exception was made for horse racing, as a traditional sport. However, even on horse racing, bets cannot be made. This event exists only as a traditional competition and entertainment for the viewers.
As a result, no kind of land based gambling facilities is allowed. There are only two official horse tracks - one near Riyadh, the other one is near Mekkah. There are some illegal gambling locations, but these are highly NOT recommended neither to locals, nor to the tourists. Police is very active at raiding such locations, and there were cases when people participating were to face lifetime imprisonment.
Online casinos have never existed for Saudi Arabia, and it is unlikely we see some in the nearest future - at least talking about legitimate ones. There were news about illegal web casino operators providing services to the residents, running their platform in the country, but the owners faced severe punishment and huge fines.
To cut the long story short, you can see that the situation in Saudi Arabia is not particularly gambling-friendly. If you want to know what they are up to now, check out the current situation.
Current Situation on Gambling in Saudi Arabia
Generally, the situation makes gambling in Saudi Arabia so dangerous that no gambler should actually take this risk - neither offline, nor online.
The state does not sponsor and does not support any venues or events - no National lottery, scratch cards, or Bingo are allowed. To make you aware how concerned are the governmental authorities about gambling, check out the chess case. Back in 2016, one of the religious leaders in Saudi Arabia claimed chess to be illegal pastime for Muslims. Regardless of the fact that the game originated from the Persian Empire, has been around for ages, and was very popular across the whole Muslim world, the religious leader stated that some people may still be enticed to make bets on playing chess, as a game of skill. Eventually, the ban was partially issued, and it is still not clear how to interpret whether chess is legal or not.
Another important nuance is that members of the royal family and some wealthy residents are actually rumored to play at casinos around the world when they travel, and even reach out to safe sites online when they are at home. Some princes even tend to waste tons of money at gambling houses (so perhaps the ban on gambling actually makes sense). On the other hand, there are cases when wealthy residents and respected members of society were caught gambling, and for them, the punishment was way less severe than for “ordinary people”.
As we have already mentioned, there are two official horse racing tracks in the country. Horses are much admired by Muslims, in general, and horse sports are very popular across the Middle East. Arab horses have been known as some of the best horses since the Middle Ages.
However, today horse racing is organized only as an entertainment and a competition. In most cases, even human jockeys are not engaged anymore - instead, the horses race with robotic jockeys. Next, no bets can officially be made on racing. This does not mean that some people do make bets on horses privately, but this is still prohibited. Some popular foreign sportsbooks want to offer bets on Saudi Arabian races, but they are not allowed to do so unless they get a special permission from the government. Therefore, even people from abroad where gambling is legal, cannot make bets through a legal bookmaker, on races taking place in Saudi Arabia.
In the majority of cases, in the countries where gambling is strictly prohibited, the players can let themselves go on cruise ships - if the country has an outlet to the sea. Governments that prohibit gambling on land usually ban gambling on cruise ships while these ships are docked, but as soon as the ship leaves the seashore and heads into the international waters, all adult passengers have access to gambling facilities aboard.
However, with Saudi Arabia, the situation is not clear. On the one hand, its citizens can freely play games of chance or games of skill when in a different country - at least the wealthiest Saudis do so. On the other hand, if the local resident decides to board the ship in order to gamble, and then comes back home, there is high chance they will be reported by witnesses. Yes, Saudi Arabia stimulates people to report such things.
So, while cruise ships may in theory be a safe place for gambling, in practice - not much.
Other supposedly safe outlet for passionate punters - web casinos - is not an option in Saudi Arabia, as well.
First of all, no locally based Saudi Arabia casino is possible. Any operators are to face lifetime imprisonment, and also potentially caning or other physical punishment, alongside with huge fines.
There are many offshore sites that really accept Saudis as real money customers, because these are enthusiastic and rich players. However, no foreign casino in Saudi Arabia is ever allowed to provide its services legally - even if the company would want to acquire a license. Moreover, the casinos are blocked by the Internet providers, that are also obliged to report both sites and players. Sites are blacklisted, while the players are persecuted.
You will often meet an advice to use VPNs, but to be honest, this is of little help. First and foremost, many casinos who accepts Saudi players will not allow you to make an account as if you were in a different country, because big online casinos also use software that prevents them from being fooled with VPNs. Even if you manage to open an account at a casino as if you are from a different country, the site will find out at the stage or registering your banking option, and will most likely block you.
Plus, there are rumours that VPNs are widely prohibited for usage in Saudi Arabia, as well as in many other Middle East countries. One of the reasons why is because internet users apply VPNs to access porn sites, which is strictly forbidden. Some Internet providers are demanded to watch user’s activity online, and report if they suggest VPN usage. Also also, sites where you can download or buy VPN software are also blocked.
Further even, local banks are prohibited from processing transactions to and from what can potentially be an online casino Saudi Arabia, and - surprise surprise! - they can also report people who tries to order such a transaction.
Since total absence of any legislation on gambling makes Saudi Arabia a grey market for gambling, many big and rich companies can afford themselves to offer services even for punters from such risky locations. So, you should not be surprises that the number of Saudi Arabia online casinos providing entertainment to Saudis is so huge. On the other hand, you as a player have to be extremely cautious. We strongly recommend you to avoid any type of gambling in Saudi Arabia.
In case you would still want to make some bets online, please follow the next recommendations:
- use VPN if you can
- choose the most reliable and secure site out there. Check reviews of online casinos before registering
- use an e-wallet (not your bank card)
- do not ever tell anybody you gamble
- close your windows (even if this sounds crazy to you)
- shield your computer screen from anybody’s view
- never gamble in a public place, even if you do so on your phone
Saudi Arabia Gambling Laws
In Saudi Arabia, gambling is equal to alcohol and drug use, prostitution, and unmarried sex. These laws are based on Koran, and Article 1 of the Basic Law states that all those activities are actually sins for a Muslim. Talking specifically about laws, there is no separate law for gambling violations, but in Saudi Arabia, this activity is covered by the Anti-Cyber Crime Law. According to Anti-Cyber Crime Law, online gambling violates public morals in the same way as pornography does. Officially, the punishment includes fines, lashes or caning, and imprisonment.
Yet, there are cases of much more severe punishment faced for gambling - mostly applied to organizations of the activity. In fact, the known cases include stoning, amputation of hands, and even beheading.
Regulatory Authorities in Saudi Arabia
There is no separate authority or agency that monitors the gambling market in the country. Most often, the checks are done by the police. The internet service providers and banks report suspicious operations, and if the gambling activity was obvious, it is persecuted under the Criminal Code.
Land Based Casinos in Saudi Arabia
There are no brick and mortar casinos in the country.
Banking Options for Gambling in Saudi Arabia
Those punters who would still want to try their luck at classic casino games of chance or games of skill, have two options - play offline in the country where such entertainment is allowed, or play online taking all the caution measures.
If you play abroad, you can actually use almost any payment method available to you, most often a plastic card by:
- American Express
However, you should keep in mind that your local bank in Saudi Arabia can still try to block the transaction if it manages to connect in to the gambling facility. So, wherever you make bets, it is always 100% safer to prefer online payment processing companies. Most often, Saudis can use the following options:
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
If you are interested in cryptocurrency, in Saudi Arabia it is banned. However, it is a perfect way to mask your bets online, from whatever country. So, you may want to consider one of the following digital coins:
- Bitcoin Cash
To opt for the best gambling platform, check out some Bitcoin casino reviews.
Facts About Saudi Arabia
While Saudi Arabia is not a particularly gambler-friendly place, it is a wondrous country to visit. Did you know that:
- it is the largest country in the world without a river
- it is one of the most dangerous countries to drive
- around 100 camels per day are sold on Saudi markets
- the country considers replacing beheading with firing squad execution due to lack of swordsmen
- many religious Saudis won’t drink coffee
- wedding ceremonies here are held separately for men and women
- non-Muslims cannot become citizens here
- Saudi women are not allowed to travel abroad without the permission of their husbands
- around 95 percent of the country are desert
- public health care services are free
- water is more expensive than oil
- smoking in public places is banned
- birth control is illegal in the country