The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is governed by strict adherence to Sharia Law that originates from the Holy Quran. The Holy Quran considers gambling among other activities like eating pork, public cinemas, drinking alcohol, and pornographic content repugnant to the strict moral code stipulated in Islam. Without a doubt, gambling is deemed illegal. With a wealthy population of about 28 million Saudis, the market is primed for entertainment and leisure. However, broad religious restrictions on entertainment and gender inclusive activities have led this ostensible kingdom a purgatory for any gambling establishments.
The mere thought of gambling in Saudi Arabia is at the moment preposterous. However, recently, there have been talks of developing gambling havens under the strict supervision of entertainment zones. The development plan, dubbed Vision 2030, will witness the construction of an entertainment complex within isolated jurisdictions where gambling would be allowed. Although the project is yet to break ground, the notion opens up the unlimited potential for the gambling industry to take root in the religious state.
As earlier stated, gambling is met with resounding rejection in Saudi Arabia. Draconian Islamic laws categorize gambling with other prohibited vices like eating pork and pornography. Heavy sanctions are imposed on any infringements to the strict moral code articulated in the Quran.
Saudi nationals are not allowed to place bets on online gambling establishments. The government has, therefore, banned all online gambling establishments with a strict filter on every incoming or outgoing communication. These filters, much like most government offices, are often ineffective.
The ban on gambling in Saudi Arabia is, however, only local. Since Arabian laws only apply within the jurisdiction of Saudi Arabia, it would be within the confines of the law to operate an offshore gambling establishment. This loophole has been exploited by many international online casino operators to admit players from Saudi Arabia with the additional advantage of the ineffective website filter run by the government.
From Microgaming to Betsoft
Not many developers have ventured into the Saudi market. However, a resilient few who operate outside the jurisdiction have been seen to develop software for the similarly few online casino operators who dare to explore this market. These software providers include:
- Net Entertainment
- Rival Gaming
- Visionary iGaming
- Slotland Entertainment
- Real Time Gaming
A Variety of Games
There is a surprising variety of gaming options in Saudi Arabia. With online casinos operating unlicensed and without the jurisdiction, it has been possible to bring a selection of more popular titles. Further, the reputed software providers help to keep Saudi punters abreast with the best games available in the gambling community. A player in Saudi Arabia would be able to access games like:
- Gods of Giza
- Apollo Rising
- Action Bank
- Hot Gems
- Gold Mine
- 5 Dazzling Hot
- Hot Scatter
- King of Cards
- Lucky Cards
- Tally Ho
- Groovy Sixties
- Enchanted Unicorn
- Cats, etc.
Casinos that Accept Saudi Nationals
Reflecting upon the earlier discussion, online casinos that can bypass the internet filter in Saudi Arabia are the only ones that avail their services to Saudi nationals. The casinos, however, do not usually accept Riyadh, which is the official Arabian currency, since it is not as widely accepted. Yet, transactions can be done in US Dollars, Euros, or Sterling Pounds, which are readily accessible anywhere in the world.
- 32 Red Casino – This is considered one of the oldest online casinos in the world. 32 Red accepts Saudi Arabian nationals but transacts in Euros, US Dollars, Pounds, and Canadian Dollars. 32 Red offers a 32 Euro bonus to every deposit in the multiples of 20. It also has other innovative bonus features like the Safari Bonus, Letter Day Bonus, and Free Casino Games Bonus.
- 888 Casino is powered by Microgaming. You would, therefore, find a wide range of high-quality games with varied themes. It offers a competitive number of jackpot games and a lot of bonus features. Though new in the iGaming industry, 888 Casino has caught up rather quickly and promises to fulfill every gambler’s dream.
- Party Casino prides itself on being among the only few casinos that develop their own software. Players can find unique games at Party Casino such as Sting and Melon Madness. Players will also be treated to monthly bonus promotions. The casino is owned by the well-known digital entertainment company Bwin; it is licensed by the United Kingdom and Gibraltar.
Apart from a few isolated instances, most casinos afford Saudi nationals a welcome bonus package, promotions, and loyalty programs. Often, casinos will vary the terms of each of the categories of bonuses above-listed to get a competitive advantage. It would require an in-depth review of each casino to know where the rewards suit you the best.
Usually, most casinos would readily accept most major payment options for deposits and withdrawals. However, following the stringent laws in Saudi Arabia, some methods are not viable for their citizens. It would be advisable to use more discrete methods of payment like E-wallets, which have become pretty popular among gamblers the world over. Some of these include Skrill, Ecopay, Click2Pay, Click2Cash, Neteller, PayPal and Entropay.
A client with an offshore account can also use the rudimentary forms such as Instant Bank Transfer, Wire Transfer, and Checks. Again, it is strongly recommended not to use the latter methods if the account is within a bank in the Saudi Arabian jurisdiction.
Most of the above-named casinos have developed mobile versions aside from their desktop versions. Mobile devices that support HTML5 are compatible with many casino websites. Mobile apps have also become a common feature in online casinos, but on account of the law and extremely law-abiding citizens, mobile apps have fallen into disuse for fear of penal consequences.
As it stands, there appears to be no hope for any relief to the strict gambling laws in Saudi Arabia. The co-existence of gambling and Sharia Law is nearly impossible. For gamblers anxious for a new less strict regime for gambling in Saudi Arabia, do not hold your breath.