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Saudi Arabia – Online Casinos & Gambling Regulations
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a primarily Sunni Muslim population of around 35 million people. The country is the 12th largest in the world and is famously oil-rich with petroleum being discovered there back in 1938, making it now the second-largest oil exporter in the world after the United States. Being a primarily Muslim country means that there is a rather strong anti-gambling sentiment, no matter the activity or setting. Despite this, people are still able to play gambling games and place sports bets online, due to overseas operations still being licensed and authorized in their respective regions.
More information about Saudi Arabia – Online Casinos & Gambling Regulations
While gambling is prohibited in Muslim law and therefore Saudi Arabia law, the focus on the government is much more on shutting down local operations than actual players. This combined with the fact that it is also the government’s responsibility to block access to any sites that provide gambling-related activities means that it is actually rather easy for people to still play online. Many players use VPNs to get around country restrictions, however, this does tend to breach the terms and conditions of the casino. It is still possible to find sites that don’t restrict access for players residing in Saudi Arabia, although varying the legitimacy of any of these sites should always be a priority, since black-market operations are much more attracted to restricted or unregulated gambling regions.
- Is the casino verifiably licensed?
- What is the reputation of the casino’s licensing body?
- Does the site provide sports betting?
- Can you use your preferred payment method?
- Does the site have a loyalty program available for all players?
Checking out the casino reviews we have here at GoodLuckMate is an easy way to find a lot of answers regarding the value and legitimacy of an online casino. Our writers are industry veterans, who aim to provide concise and correct information, making finding the right casino for you easier than ever.
There is no Saudi Arabian gambling authority, due to the fact that any type of gambling is strictly prohibited. This sentiment is also reflected in the Sunni Muslim majority population who adhere to these values. Local operations can face severe punishments, as can players and participants, although, the authorities tend not to spend many resources on chasing down individual players. Regulations for online activities were cemented in 2007 with an Anti-Cyber Crime Law that made those caught preparing, publishing or promoting anything regarding online gambling face a steep punishment including up to five years of prison time and up to three million riyals (around $800,000) in fines.
Online casinos based overseas are not directly subject to these laws as they do not reach outside the boundaries of the sovereign Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Most sites instead operate from countries that are far more welcoming to gambling operations like Malta and Curaçao. It doesn’t appear that the law will be changing anytime soon, so these sites appear to be the best bet for those still unwavering in their pursuit to gamble freely.
While some online casinos might still allow players from Saudi Arabia access to their site, it’s a whole other thing to expect localized content on these sites. As mentioned regarding the Anti-Cyber Crime Law above, the government is particularly attentive to operations that are directly promoting content towards the population of Saudi Arabia. Localized content like dedicated welcome offers and Arabic language options are not only very resource-intensive for what are relatively smaller markets, they are also more likely to draw the unwanted attention of the Saudi Arabian government. You will therefore need to settle for the default site options, which are usually in English and with the US and/or euro payment options available to you. There may also be extensive restrictions with regards to promotional events and game selections, due to the region you are playing from.
As with the above-mentioned localization options, riyal currency support and payment options are not something that you should come to expect. A happy coincidence regarding the riyal though is that is fixed to the US dollar at 3.75 to the dollar since 1986. Luckily, the vast majority of online casinos have wide selections of US dollar payment options and this is a much more recommended option than the other default currency of euros, which doesn’t have any fixed exchange rate to the riyal.
Another alternative a lot of casino players are opting for is the use of cryptocurrencies. It has become so popular that some sites only accept this new currency. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have gained in popularity due to the security technology and privacy that provide the foundation for each exchange. They do however require some degree of tech-savviness to fully understand.
The only local gambling operations you are likely to find in Saudi Arabia are the black market and underground kind. Not only is the activity completely illegal, but there is also a severe social stigma that can be attached to anybody speaking aloud about playing. The only refuge for those wishing to play is online, where there are hundreds of sites available and sites are based in much more gambling liberal climates. These regions are also benefitted from having dedicated gambling authorities and social support networks for those providing and those playing anything gambling-related. This allows the government much more oversight over the industry ensuring that standards and fairness are maintained.
There’s is of course the added benefits of the jobs this industry provides, as well as the additional taxes that can be collected and put towards social projects. Like most of the Muslim world though, it doesn’t seem that these benefits will ever outweigh the cultural values that the people of Saudi Arabia have possessed far prior to the establishment of the country.