Saudi Arabia is not exactly the friendliest of environments when it comes to online gambling. Since this is the Middle East, this hardly comes as a surprise. There is, however, a beacon of light; with the proper knowledge, you can gamble online in the region without invoking the ire of the local authorities, and we’re going to show you how.
The secret sauce
Although you won’t find anything usable in your local environment, there are hundreds of trused casinos sites to play in Saudi Arabia if you know where to look for them. Hint: it’s the offshore casino operators that are governed by another jurisdiction and so it’s their laws that apply. Although the local lawmakers and regulators are fully within their right to say no to gambling in Saudi Arabia, their decree does not surpass the borders of the country. In other words, it’s up to you to take your business elsewhere and as you do, you’ll find yourself more than welcome by a plethora of offshore online casinos and sportsbooks offering lucrative bonuses to win you over as a customer. And yes, all can be accessed online from any destination of your choosing!
The current state of gambling in Saudi Arabia
Politically, Saudi Arabia operates as an Islamic monarchy. Across the world, only a few absolute monarchies remain, and Saudi Arabia is one of them. In 1932, four countries stepped together to form a single powerful unit. Today, it houses more than 33 million inhabitants that are governed by Islamic law. The reason why gambling is illegal here is because Koran, the holy book of Islam, takes a strong moral stance on the activity, calling it the work of Satan.
As such, you will not find any state-licensed casinos here. Even though the area is home to famous racetracks such as the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, betting on the outcome of these races does not fall within the legal domain. Since the vast majority of the population is devoted to Islam, they hardly need any further convincing to comply with the laws. Since the holy book is not particularly fond of drugs or alcohol, you will also find that drug use or alcoholism is a rare occurrence in this country.
The local gambling scene in Saudi Arabia very much resembles a desert.
The consequences of non-compliance
As you might have guessed, there are consequences if you get caught gambling in Saudi Arabia. But in practice, law enforcement is mostly going after the local illegal gambling operations that are hidden underground. If they catch you red handed, expect steep fines and six months behind bars. Should you get busted for the same crime more than once, the penalties will be even harsher. Even so, not a single report of someone getting in trouble for gambling online has surfaced thus far.
Tips for staying safe when gambling in Saudi Arabia
While it’s not recommended to flaunt what you’re doing in public, playing at home at an offshore casino is highly unlikely to get you in any kind of trouble. As long as no one looks at your computer screen, you should be fine. Unfortunately, this pretty much rules out any coffee shops, restaurants, or other public places, putting them completely out of the equation. On top of that, there are additional steps you can take to ensure that your online betting experience remains safe:
1. Use a VPN
Using a VPN not only protects your identity, but also helps you overcome a technical obstacle the local government may throw your way in an attempt to prevent you from accessing online gambling websites. In essence, it works by masking your IP by introducing a server in the middle between the website you’re trying to connect to and your local device.
Any traffic exchanged between the two is masked and encrypted, thus making it impossible to know who is the face behind the IP address without knowing the encryption key. Even if your local ISP is blocking IP addresses originating from Saudi Arabia and preventing them from accessing online gambling websites, by using a VPN, your IP will be replaced by another one and the obstacle will be no more.
2. Stick to pre-vetted and safe websites
Just because a website is hosted offshore, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s safe. Therefore, you should do your research and stick to the gambling operators that deserve your trust. You can either start googling them yourself, or go through the list we’ve provided at the top of today’s post. These have been pre-vetted by industry experts that judge them based on attributes such as transparency, licenses obtained, provable fairness, and how long they’ve been in the business.
3. Give preference to anonymous payment methods
If you’d rather see your real-world identity not associated with gambling, it’s a good idea to seek out anonymous payment methods such as cryptocurrencies. In theory, attempting to deposit your funds to a gambling website with a local credit card could be frowned upon by the authorities, so it’s definitely something to keep in mind. So if you find an online casino that supports Bitcoin, for example, this is the easiest and most straightforward solution.
4. Keep your OS and software up to date
Last but not least, you should do your best to make sure your devices are up to date and secure. As time goes on, several vulnerabilities can surface in your software and operating systems that hackers can exploit to reveal your identity, compromise your system, and even steal your hard-earned funds. So don’t take the risk and remember to press that ‘update’ button every once in a while.
In conclusion, although gambling is frowned upon in Saudi Arabia, there are ways to do it if you stick to offshore providers and keep your activity out of public sight. The tips provided above should be more than enough to help you stay safe.