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HomeBusinessIran Risks Being Left Behind as Nations Relax Their Stance on iGaming

Iran Risks Being Left Behind as Nations Relax Their Stance on iGaming

Operating under one of the world’s most stringent anti-gambling regimes, Iran leaves no stone unturned in its pursuit of quashing these activities.

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry recently dismantled a major online gambling network that was linked to the United Kingdom (UK), emphasising their commitment to abolishing such activities.

It took over 14 months for the Iranian intelligence to track down the operation, but their efforts led to the arrest of five key network managers while several significant assets were also seized.

This decisive action from the Iranian authorities shows just how far the country is willing to go to eradicate gambling activities within its borders.

The arrested parties were charged with disruption of the economic system, money laundering and operating a gambling house in cyberspace.

The scale of the crackdown shows just how committed Iran is to eradicating gambling. More than 35,00 accounts, 1,200 banking portals and 54 major gambling websites were all neutralised during the raid.

Although their stance may surprise some people, it is driven by a desire to uphold their deeply rooted religious beliefs and protect their economic stability.

<h2>UAE Demonstrates a More Progressive Attitude</h2>

All forms of gambling are banned in Iran, so much so that you won’t find land-based casinos or betting shops anywhere in the country.

However, the internet and modern technologies have made it possible for Iranian citizens and overseas visitors to gamble at online casinos in Iran.

Many Iranians defy the ban by seeking out iGaming platform that allow them to sign up and place bets, effectively rebelling against the strict regulations in place.

These casinos are not licensed by the Iranian government but rather in offshore countries such as Malta, Curacao or the UK.

By contrast, several other previously conservative nations have started to the release the handbrake on activities which had historically been deemed illegal.

For instance, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is gradually embracing its more liberal side by loosening its gambling restrictions, and the ambitious Wynn Resort project is a perfect example.

Located in Ras Al Khaimah, the project is expected to become a major tourist attraction that will diversify their economy by offering an unprecedented gaming experience.

The UAE’s seemingly progressive stance on gambling is an example of how conflicted Middle Eastern nations are about the topic.

However, they have decided to balance their traditional values with economic pragmatism. While the UAE doesn’t frown on social gambling, they ensure that the activity is heavily regulated. The primary aim of this approach is to generate revenue, which nations such as Iran could explore.

Other Middle Eastern countries also vary in their approaches. For instance, Saudi Arabia are still reluctant to fully embrace gambling, which aligns with Iran’s strict position on the matter due to their conservative interpretation of Islamic law.

Meanwhile, Bahrain and Qatar are more open to the idea of controlled gambling activities, especially as a form of diversifying their economies and attracting foreign investment.

<h2>Iran Remains Reluctant to Embrace Change</h2>

Given the current climate, it is highly unlikely that Iran will follow in the UAE’s footsteps anytime soon.

Gambling has been prohibited in Iran since 1979 due to Islamic laws that categorise games of chance as ‘grave sins’. However, enforcing these restrictions has been challenging for Iran, given operators from overseas find ways to cater to Iranian citizens who enjoy gambling.

This ‘cat and mouse game’ between Iranian authorities and foreign operators highlights the challenges of implementing such a ban in the digital age.

In addition to cracking down on the illicit activities, they have also expressed deep concerns about the normalisation of online gambling, which they believe directly contradicts core Islamic teachings.

The Iranian legislature received a bill proposing the death penalty for illegal online gambling operators in 2021, but the bill did not become law.

However, anyone caught engaging in those activities could face consequences of up to six months in prison or 74 lashes.

The Iranian government’s focus on disrupting such networks and prosecuting individuals involved in gambling activities suggests a firm stance that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Economic, cultural and religious factors all play significant roles in Iran’s reluctance to embrace legal gambling or even the idea of a regulated or controlled system.

Given the stringent regulations and severe penalties in Iran, casino players within the country will likely continue to seek out gambling opportunities through sites regulated in foreign jurisdictions.

This approach is incredibly risky as there could be legal consequences, not to mention the challenges of navigating international gambling laws and regulations.

Nevertheless, citizens eager for a punt in Iran may not have much choice. Players often turn to online gambling platforms hosted in countries with more liberal laws.

However, they could be exposed to fraudulent websites that lack customer protection and have difficulties withdrawing potential winnings.

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