Qatar Betting Laws and Industry

Making bets or wagers of every kind are banned according to Qatar betting laws. This is because the nation’s legal system is partially based on Sharia, the Islamic law which stipulates that a strict ban be imposed on anything that can be interpreted as gambling. As a result, all those who participate in gambling games as also those who organize such games, are subject to stringent penalties.

Gambling online also comes under the purview of this general ban, but Qatari officials do not seem to view this as a major crime.

The government indeed censors certain material in the web, such as pornographic content, political criticism of the government and leaders of the Arabian Gulf countries, as also all websites that post content that insults Islam. There are of course infrequent reports of the blocking of some Qatar betting site or other, but this does not look as if it is a widespread issue.

Is Online Betting in Quatar Legal?

Qatar Betting Laws

Qatar Betting Laws

Nevertheless, none would find it difficult to lay a bet online in Qatar. As if to confirm this, the online betting sites [1] from all over the world readily accept gamblers from within Qatar like Betway. So in case you are interested in trying your luck in winning real cash, there are many secure and safe gambling sites that are located overseas.

Actually, these overseas gambling sites that are found on the web functions mostly in Western nations where betting is by no means illegal. Besides, these sites are based in areas where gambling is counted as legitimate business.

Further, such websites are strictly controlled by their governments in order to guarantee fair games as well as protection of players. Too many, it might seem daunting to lay bets with sites overseas, but no police officer would raid these sites as they operate quite normally and legitimately. In short, what they do is legal where they live.

In fact Qatar remains a progressive Islamic nation that has changed many of its laws to accommodate foreigners to feel at ease within its diverse environments, at the same time respect the culture and traditions of the sheikhdom.

To cite an example, the Qatar government became softer in their attitude towards alcohol and permitted its consumption at restaurants and hotels as also grant liquor permits to make it easy to buy alcohol.  As to gambling, the country’s penal codes mention punishments if anyone is found gambling in illegal casinos or in public, but not on gambling online or online betting.

Primary Gaming Laws

There is nothing complicated about the Qatar gambling laws as they are very simple and to the point. Articles 274, 275, 276, 277, Law 11 of 2004 [2] constitute all Qatari law, as it pertains to gambling.

The law defines gambling as “Gambling is any game in which the probability of gain and loss depends on the luck and not on controlled factors and each party agrees to give the amount of money, in case of loss, to the winning party.”

There is no point in arguing about this constantly about whether a game is based on skill or luck, for the government is expected to rule stating that any act that is even similar to gambling is considered gambling [3]. Generally, interpretation of the Islamic law categorizes everything from casino games to poker to sports betting to be different kinds of gambling.

Penalty for Gambling

Qatar Penalty Gambling

The penalty for taking part in betting or wagering is a maximum of three months imprisonment and a fine that can go up to 3,000 riyals [4]. In case you are found indulging in gambling at any public place, the punishment will be increased up to six months in a prison and the fine can be up to 6,000 riyals. However, as can be seen in many other countries, such laws are not as hard as is seen in the region.

Fortunately for the chronic gamblers, Qatar does not in any way ban outright the utilization of VPNs or virtual private networks within its borders. However, if you try to access prohibited material such as pornographic sites, the law of the realm considers it a crime. The Western Diaspora who uses the VPNs in the country has not reported any legal problem until now.

Under the circumstances, betting online appears to be nearly safe in Qatar although the action is technically not legal. The Qatar authorities do not appear to be much interested in seeking out individual gamblers wagering from the comfort of their own homes. This does not mean that the risk is absolutely nil, because in Islamic countries, there is always some risk involved in online gambling from home or office.

Horse Race Betting in Qatar

Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club conduct thoroughbred horse racing from time to time. There is no need to pay a hefty entrance fee, and all the programs are absolutely free. No betting is allowed on horse racing, as Qatar is an Islamic country, and the Sharia proscribes gambling. However, you can gamble on the many gaming websites that can be easily found on the web.

What’s more, most online betting sites remain wholly accessible to all, although the government blocks various kinds of objectionable content like pornography and those sites that criticize the rulers of the country and the principles of Islam.  The government does not block gambling sites although it is against the spirit of Islam, but it chooses to largely ignore it, if the people wish to make betting on sports from the privacy of their homes. 

Qatar is preparing a major horse race near the Aspire Zone racetrack and will host the 2022 World Cup. Very soon they will have their very own international racetrack [5].

The Gulf state boasts the Aspire Zone, complete with state-of-the-art stadia and specializing in sports medicine and education, while capital Doha has been chosen as the venue for the 2019 World Athletics Championships.

*Here is a quick guide for single and multi-horse racing.

Betting on Cricket

Cricket is not a sport that is played in Qatar. But there is a large Diaspora from South Asia working and living in the country, with cricket in their veins. They watch international cricket on television and many feel like making on their favorite sport do so by resorting to the numerous online cricket betting sites found on the web.

And since, the Qatar government takes a lenient view of gamblers betting on international gaming sites online, placing online bets is not a scary problem as the case in the other Islamic countries.

Camel Racing

Qatar Camel Racing

Another sport that is a hot favorite with Qataris is camel racing which used to be the exclusive pastime of sheiks. As a highly popular sport in Qatar, it attracts aficionados in the thousands, along with many tourists from around the world. This time-honored tradition continues in the remote village named Al Shahaniya [6]. The village has its own camel racing track. Visitors are delighted with the exceptional prospect of watching this ferociously competitive as well as extremely expensive sporting spectacle in Qatar.

The Al-Shahaniya racetrack is just an hour’s drive from the heart of Doha, through the shining desert. This famous track conducts domestic as well as international races on every Friday from the month of November to February.

At first children from Sudan were used as jockeys in these races. These unfortunate boys were starved and they had no access to education. Many of these children were four year olds and as they were cruelly treated there was an international protest against the heinous practice. In 2003, the American government threatened Qatar with trade sanctions so that something was done for these children. This resulted in the decision of the Emir to declare that children would not be allowed to work as jockeys anymore and robots will be used instead.

Fortunately, in 2005, a company in Switzerland developed a working robot jockey that could bear the intolerable heat as well as combat the tough riding conditions. These robots cost Qatar $10,000 each. Needless to say, these child jockeys, were simply packed off to Sudan to lead a life of poverty, as before. Now these robots have fully replaced the unfortunate children and effectively drive the camels as they sprint to the finishing line.

The initial set of these camel races begins in Al shahaniya during October with local tournaments every Friday until February, with all the big events being conducted in March and April. 

Casinos in Qatar

There is not even a single live casino doing business in the state of Qatar, since casino means gambling and gambling means taboo according to the Islamic law.

Although casinos are prohibited from operating in Qatar, it does not mean that the country lacks in illegal gambling locales. In fact, illegal card games are conducted by making use of private homes situated in out of town areas in the guise of vacation of business.

Potential players are contacted by means of text messages on cell phones. These games usually begin past midnight. Around 20 to 25 players take part. The organizers of these illegal casino card games are paid 10 per cent of the total winnings. 

*Try out your luck at the Rummy Royal Casino.

Flush, Rummy, Poker and other Card Games

Qatar casinos

Gambling remains banned in Qatar, along with several other Muslim nations in the Middle East. As a result you cannot find any casinos, betting shops, poker rooms, bingo halls, lottery outlets, or any such legal venues of betting in the country. However, this does not mean that poker and gambling does not happen here.

In fact, a lot of illegal gambling is going on in the country. Although it is a Muslim nation, a lot of people are interested in gambling by means of card games which need only just a few packs of playing cards, a room with a table and some chairs. Much of this illegal gambling is conducted by numerous gangs, operating from within private homes.

To do so, they bribe the owners, and change their locations frequently to be a step ahead of the police officials. These gangs inform their players by means of text messages, about the changing locations. The games usually begin at midnight, when Qatar sleeps.

Playing live poker, rummy, flush and similar card games carries with it the dire risk of being caught, particularly inside an illegal gaming room [7].

It is not everyone that can play at such gaming dens, so people turn to playing online as it brings down the element of risk to virtually nil, as the only thing you need is a PC with an internet connection. In contrast, if you bring other people to a gaming den, the risk of word getting around is always there, but this doesn’t happen while playing online. This is also true of every king of card game that can be played in Qatar, whether it is poker, rummy, flush or any other kind of card game.

In theory, online gambling is also illegal in the country, and the authorities seek to block gamblers from making bets online, but this is not very effective. To get around this problem, many use virtual private networks that will link them to servers based in other nations, as the Qatar government has no control over these servers.

Gambling Laws Reference in this Article

[1] onlinebettingsites.com, Online Betting in Qatar, 2016

[2] gulfmigration.eu, Law 11 of 2004, 2004

[3] onlinebetting.com, Gambling Laws in Qatar; Online and Offline, 2016

[4] qatarsportsbetting.com, Qatar Sports Betting, 2015

[5] cnn.com, Qatar gallops towards goal of hosting world-class horse race, 2015

[6] onlineqatar.com, Al Shahaniya Camel Racetrack, 2014

[7] pokerlaws.org, Qatar Poker Laws, 2015