Gambling is restricted in the Middle East region which covers- Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain or UAE, and that is why finding places to play poker is difficult. The restriction is especially for the local people. This opens a window for tourists to stand a chance to play the game. That is why one would find that gambling centers are often positioned in places such as resorts or other places where tourists often visit. Also, due to the restriction on gambling on the citizens of the Middle East, one is asked to provide their IDs or passport. At best, if you are really inclined to play the game in a sanctioned place, then it would be better if you head to Egypt or Lebanon. In this article let us dig deep and find out the places where one can play poker in the Middle East-
Lebanon’s Casino Du Liban
Owned by Caesar’s Entertainment, Casino Du Liban is located in Jounieh and is the only casino in Lebanon. It is 16 km away from Beirut, which is the capital city. Despite being the only one, it is the biggest casino in the whole world. The high demand and less availability garner this casino a high following from all over the world.
High rollers are lured to the main area, attractive poker rooms, smart and sharp-dressing, etc. It offers-
- Overall there are six poker tables in the poker room of this casino.
- Weekly rolling tournaments. Games are often played on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
- The purchase-ins vary from 300 to 500 U.S. Dollars, which makes it a professional level game, that attracts serious players who know the in and out of the game.
- It offers two blind levels. One is of 2 to 5 U.S Dollars with purchase-ins of 250 to 1500 U.S. Dollars. The second one is of 5 to 10 U.S Dollars with purchase-ins of 500 to 2500 U.S. Dollars
- Most of the times, the games are ‘Hold ‘em’ with a little probability of the variation with ‘Stud.’
Since online betting is limited to one website (which is licensed), this makes Casino Du Liban all the more exciting and famous.
The Casino capital of the Middle East- Egypt-
Egypt flaunts the richest history of gambling, along with other popular attractions such as- Pyramids, sculptures, mummies, and so on. In Egypt, the gambling roots back to the old dynasties of at least 3,000 BC. One can find sculptures, artifacts, and hieroglyphic records depicting the game.
Egypt has the largest number of casinos, with many of them offering poker rooms. Here too, the locals are not allowed to participate in the gambling. Therefore, the players are required to show their IDs and passports. Here are some peculiar facts that you must know if you are considering Egypt for playing poker-
- All the Casinos in the country operate in the global language- English.
- The currency used in the casinos is the U.S. Dollars.
- Locals are strictly prohibited from playing in the casinos.
- As per the World Casino Directory, Egypt has ten casinos that offer for the poker rooms. The list includes-
- The Aladdin Casino and Maritim Jolie Ville Resort and Casino,
- Caesar’s Casino,
- London Club Casino,
- Movenpick Casino,
- Cairo Marriott and Omar Khayyam Casino,
- and the Kings and Queens Casino.
- The buy-ins vary based on the venues.
- Varieties such as Texas Hold ‘em, Caribbean Poker, Stud, and 3-Card poker are offered.
- For casual players, Egypt offers lower buy-ins.
The major gambling wipeout of 1998-
Since the major shut down in 1998, the once-thriving gambling industry of the Middle East got completely wiped out. Before this wipeout, there were many countries in this region that used to offer many gambling options. For instance, Turkey used to offer 78 big casinos at one point in time.
Gambling opportunities without Casinos by Israel-
Israel has been a very peculiar example of such gambling-glorious days. It was famous for not having any casinos and yet was able to offer gambling opportunities. How? Well, it used to offer such opportunities through ‘gambling cruises.’ It was like gambling in the sea. Gamblers used to board the ship from Cyprus, play the game during the journey, and later on, return to Israel. Many such cruises got closed-down in 2005, but still, some have started to show up again.
Eilat- the probable Casino Destination-
Eilat is a beautiful port town which is situated on the Red Sea near Jordan. It has been speculated that this place can become the next big destination for poker and casino gaming in the Middle East. Sources tell that there are plans chalked out for this place for the construction of a ‘strip of casinos.’ The sources also reveal that the project has attracted investment from Sheldon Andelson who is the owner of the Venetian in Las Vegas and developer of the Cotai Strip in Macau. But we are still waiting for some concrete action on this plan. Till now, the ban on the land-based casinos in the country is very much on.
Given there are so many restrictions on the land-based and the online casino gaming in the Middle East, other alternative options have mushroomed in recent years. Other forms include raffles, lotteries (although these are expected to support a worthy cause), sports betting, pari-mutuel betting, horse racing, card games.