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Bahrain Online Casinos

BahrainThe Kingdom of Bahrain is a small island nation located just off the coast of Saudi Arabia and not far from Iran. Like its neighbors, it is a deeply Islamic nation, though there are significant minorities who are Christian and Hindu. While the country once relied on oil to power its economy, it now focuses heavily on tourism and has positioned itself as a major financial and banking center in the region.

When it comes to gambling, however, policy is dictated by the country’s Muslim heritage. There are no casinos, no sports betting, and no lottery. And while the country’s general openness to tourism might suggest there is a chance that resorts could be built here, there has been no indication from the government that this might be the case any time soon.

Sports Popular, But No Betting Allowed

The simple fact of life in Bahrain is that there is absolutely no gambling allowed. This isn’t exactly a rare state of affairs in deeply Islamic countries, so that fact probably won’t come as a shock to you. But it is worth repeating that you won’t find any casinos here, there is no legal lottery, and there is no sports betting allowed. In fact, there is even the potential for a short jail sentence for anyone caught gambling in public (though it appears severe penalties are reserved for those running such games).

That last fact in particular may disappoint some, because this country does have a bit of a sporting heritage, including some big events where placing a bet might be quite fun. In particular, the Bahrain Grand Prix is perhaps the biggest auto racing event found anywhere in the Middle East. The event typically takes place early in the Formula One season, and in some years, has even been the opening race of the year for the circuit.

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Other types of sports are popular in the nation as well. There is a professional basketball league here, while soccer also enjoys immense popularity, as it does in most parts of the world. There have also been talks about bringing back the popular sport of camel racing, a practice that was stopped in the country decades ago. All of these activities can be fun to watch, though as we’ve already pointed out, you won’t be able to place any bets.

But despite the fact that there is no gambling in this country, it would be a stretch to say that Bahrain has a squeaky clean image. At times, the capital of Manama has been referred to as one of the world’s leading sin cities, though that has nothing to do with any underground betting rings: instead, it refers to the legality of alcohol in a region where drinking is often banned outright, and a flourishing nightlife scene that has attracted young people from throughout the region who are looking for an opportunity to let loose.

No Online Play Allowed, But Sites Available

With a widespread prohibition on gambling, it is no surprise that Bahrain doesn’t allow for Internet gaming sites, either. There is no licensing system available, and the government isn’t exactly welcoming of foreign operators, either. There is an effort to prevent residents from even accessing such sites, though the filtering methods appear to be minimally effective, at best.

Because this attempt to block sites hasn’t been very effective, there are plenty of ways for Bahraini citizens to gamble online. Many overseas firms are happy to offer their games here, and since players are rarely (if ever) subjected to any sort of consequences for gambling within their own homes, there are plenty of people who sign up for and play real money slots, poker, and other games from here.

Given the fact that this is an unregulated jurisdiction, however, you won’t find many games from companies that try to keep to places where they can get a license. Instead, you’ll see more privately-owned firms working here, as they do in many of the world’s “grey markets.” While that may sound a little shady, fear not: many of these companies are trustworthy and reputable, having worked throughout the world for a decade or more, creating millions of satisfied customers. Some of the more popular developers that provide software to online casinos in Bahrain are:

  • NetEnt
  • Microgaming
  • Betsoft
  • Rival
  • Realtime Gaming
  • Topgame

Mood for Change, But Not In Gaming

As with many parts of the Arab world, Bahrain has seen significant upheaval in recent years as part of the Arab Spring revolutionary protest movement. Known as the Bahraini Uprising, the 2011 protest movement saw many calling for more political freedom in the country, with some even seeking the end of the current monarchy that rules here. While tensions have dissipated somewhat since then, there are still occasional protests, and some consider the uprising to continue to this day.

The prospect of change in the nation is a serious one, and clearly, there are many important issues at play here that could impact the day to day lives of Bahrainis. Gambling is by no means among the more important of these, but since it is what we’re focused on here, we’ll take a closer look at the following question: could political change in Bahrain lead to the introduction of legalized gambling on some level?

On the surface, this seems like a place where such a change is possible. There is already a healthy tourism industry, and while this is a conservative Islamic nation, that label doesn’t apply as strongly as in nations like Saudi Arabia or Iran. Throw in calls for change, and it doesn’t seem impossible that something simple like a national lottery – or perhaps the opening of a foreigners-only casino to raise revenues – would be out of the question.

However, we don’t see this happening anytime in the immediate future. One interesting fact we found in our research is that there isn’t much talk of underground or illegal gambling in Bahrain. Of course, that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening at all, and there surely must be some interest in betting here (as there is everywhere else in the world). But it does suggest that there isn’t a groundswell of interest in the practice, which means there is little incentive for this government – or any future one – to try and push for legalization.

The situation regarding online gambling in Bahrain is certainly worth watching, and a change in the industry here isn’t impossible: the idea of attracting tourists with a foreigners-only casino, in particular, seems like it could be a realistic proposal someday. But in the next few years, at least, we don’t see an obvious path to any form of gaming being regulated here.

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