Gambling in Lebanon
Home to 17 different cults, Lebanon is the most religiously diverse country in the Middle East. More than half of the population is Muslim, but the Christian community is almost just as large. With such a religious heritage, it comes as no surprise that gambling is frowned upon in the country.
Lebanese laws are very strict and only allow gambling inside the Casino du Liban. This is the only licensed land-based venue in the state and local authorities claim the casino was given monopoly in order to “protect public morals”. The Orient Queen cruise ship departing from Beirut also has a casino where gamblers can play poker, roulette, bingo and slots.
The capital city, Beirut, is home to one of the most famous horse racing facilities in the Middle East, the Hippodrome du parc de Beyrouth. The venue hosts regular horse races and attracts thousands of tourists, but betting at the track is not allowed.
La Libanaise des Jeux is the state’s sole lottery operator, offering draw games twice a week and scratch cards.
Online gambling in Lebanon
Until June 2013, residents had access to a number of online gambling sites in Lebanon, with poker services and sportsbooks being the most popular. However, the Ministry of Justice decided it was time to take actions against all foreign online gambling operators and blocked their websites, once again reminding players that Casino du Liban is the only place where they are allowed to gamble.
The news was spread by a local blogger, who claimed the only accessible website was Starsofholdem, a poker service hosted in Costa Rica, operated by a gambling group based in London, but apparently owned by a tax-paying Lebanese citizen.
Lottery company La Libanaise des Jeux is the only Lebanese operator with an online gambling license. It owns the PlayLebanon website.