Interest in the Casino Industry in the Middle East is Increasing
The gambling industry in Middle Eastern countries is in its infancy when compared to European and Asia countries. According to the latest Research and Markets report on the gambling industry in the Middle Easter, in several Middle Eastern countries, it seems that fantasy sports betting and eSports lead the way. According to the same report, the gambling market in the Middle East is expected to grow at a rate of 12% between 2021 and 2026 or during the forecasted period.
The truth is, interest not only in sports betting but also casino gaming in the Middle East is rapidly increasing. The recent coronavirus outbreak in the Middle Eastern region has not negatively affected the growth of the iGaming industry. Thanks to the increased usage of the internet especially in the United Arab Emirates, more international online casino companies decided to expand their businesses across the entire Middle Eastern region. Besides rising internet penetration rates, another key factor that drives the growth of the gambling industry is the greater adoption of portable devices.
Gambling Laws and Regulations in the Middle East
As expected, gambling laws and regulations in the Middle Eastern region vary from one country to another. There are several Middle Eastern countries in which various forms of gambling activities are perfectly legal, but for the most part, online casinos, online sports betting sites, and gambling activities, in general, are illegal. In those Middle Eastern countries in which gambling activities are legal, strict laws and regulations are in place. In some Middle Eastern countries where gambling activities are legal, locals are prohibited from engaging in gambling activities and only foreigners can join in on the fun.
When it comes to the land-based casino industry, there are several players in the Middle Eastern region where individuals can engage in gambling activities. However, in most Middle Eastern countries, betting offline is strictly forbidden. At the same time, Morocco and Lebanon have a couple of land-based casinos where locals can engage in gambling activities. In Egypt, foreigners can also engage in gambling activities at several casinos while local residents cannot.
Several Middle Eastern countries have completely banned all gambling activities. When it comes to legalized and regulated online gambling activities in the Middle Eastern region, they are extremely rare. Countries such as Morocco and Lebanon allow certain forms of online gambling, but they are heavily restricted. Generally speaking, Morocco and Lebanon have the most liberalized gambling regulations and laws when compared to all other Middle Eastern countries.
Then, there is Egypt somewhere in the middle. Currently, online gambling activities in Egypt are not regulated by any means. At the same time, many renowned international online casinos warmly accept Egyptian players, and gaming at such sites carries no legal consequences. This page explains everything about legal online casinos in Egypt. Speaking of Egypt and its gambling laws and regulations, lotteries and sports betting venues operate legally. As mentioned in the previous section, there are also a couple of land-based casinos for foreigners. All casinos are monitored by the Egyptian Tourism Authority.
Countries in which gambling activities are not legal include Bahrain, Algeria, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates, which is probably the most technologically savvy of all the countries in the region.
This means there are no legally operating online casinos or land-based casinos in these countries, but their citizens can join numerous foreign sites and enjoy gambling activities this way. Even though gambling activities in the Middle East are heavily restricted, it seems the interest in the casino industry in the entire region is rapidly increasing.
Factors Driving the Gambling Industry in the Middle East
As mentioned at the beginning, one of the latest Research and Markets reports on the Middle Eastern gambling industry suggests that the increasing adoption of fantasy, betting, and e-Sports sites is the main driving force. The gambling industry in the entire region is actually expected to witness amazing growth in the years to come thanks to the increased usage of the Internet. Another major factor driving the growth of the Middle Eastern gambling industry is the growing internet and smartphone penetration. Even though gambling was almost an universally unacceptable industry in the Middle East (as seen from this Statista chart), it is one with considerable catch up potential to the rest of the world.