Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia

As is the case with any other form of gambling, online betting is expressly prohibited in Saudi Arabia. It should be recalled that this conservative kingdom in the Middle East makes it one of the most traditionalist countries on earth.

Nevertheless, there is a safe way to make wagers on international betting sites through secure virtual private networks (VPNs) and anonymous payment methods.

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The Legality of Gambling in Saudi Arabia

It is one of the few remaining absolute monarchies in the world, united into a single state in 1932. The government of Saudi Arabia is an Islamic monarchy that was established in 1932 when four regions were merged into one state.

With a population which is greater than 33 million, the monarchy rules under Islamic law. However, the central religious text of Islam – the Koran does not advocate for gambling as a favourable thing. As a matter of fact, gambling in Arabic is referred to as “maisir” which means “abhorrence, the work of Satan.”

Being a very conservative Islamic state, Saudi Arabia has stringent laws against gambling. It neither permits any state-licensed casinos nor bookmakers or poker rooms. Gambling is, in fact, outlawed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Horse racing and camel racing are ancient sports which still attract fans to modern tracks such as the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, although betting on races is forbidden by law.

Also, it is important to recognize that it is not just the state that goes along with the ban on gambling. Saudi Arabia has many religious Muslims but even though some violate this law, majority of such a country does not. Other common activities frowned upon by most people include gambling games and using drugs or alcoholic substances.

What Are the Penalties for Violating Gambling Laws?

Even though police do not seem to concentrate on gamblers online, but rather deal with small scale local gambling dens, the punishments for any type of gambling is too severe.

Such penalties may involve getting jailed for six months or more and even being caned as an extra punishment. More severe punishments may be meted out for subsequent crimes. Those who run their own gambling operations within the nation can face even more rigid penalties.

Nonetheless, we were unable to find a single case reported over the internet where a Saudi national has been prosecuted for gambling abroad from the comfort of their own residence.

VPN icon on laptop screen

How to Safely Bet on Sports in Saudi Arabia

In case a Saudi national catches you engaging in gambling, it is well possible that he or she will take you to the police. However strange it may appear, in case you are betting online, the best thing to do is not to tell anyone and close all windows and screens. Never attempt to gamble in public places such as cyber cafes or coffee shops.

Due to the harsh punishments that can be imposed on people for breaking the country’s gambling laws, it is always advisable to exercise caution. To avoid attracting the attention of authorities, here are some additional measures that you should consider taking before accessing any online sports bookmaker from your own residential place.

Use a VPN to Access Sports Betting Sites

Other authoritarian nations like China and North Korea, like the Saudi government, try to inhibit such sites that defy fundamentalist Islamic teachings. In line with this is an official confirmation by The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), which is Saudi Arabia’s communication authority, that over 5.5 million “undesirable websites” have been blocked in the country since 2008.

When Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) blocks several sports betting sites, we encourage readers to utilize a virtual private network (VPN). Moreover, VPNs secure your online actions from the observant. However, if you are a Saudi Arabian and hope to withdraw funds from sports gambling websites, you should be prepared for “know your customer” or KYC requests.

Choose Anonymous Payment Methods

Because of the strict anti-gambling laws in the country, it is not advisable to use debit or credit cards from local Saudi Arabian banks. In fact, you will likely face rejection if you attempt to deposit and your attempt to do so will be recorded by law enforcement agencies in the country.

Instead, go for a payment option that secures anonymity for you. We mean making payments without revealing your banking details to the betting sites. This will help prevent any gambling transactions from reflecting on your bank statement.

Online payment processors like CASHU, NETELLER, Skrill, PayPal and other similar services do have Saudi customers but they cannot be used because they restrict transactions to online gambling sites. Bitcoin is still the most preferred form of payment for many Saudi Arabian online gamblers even though it has been declared illegal by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA).

An alternative way to withdraw money from online casinos is by using bitcoins. There are also some pages that give cheques or wire the funds directly into your Saudi bank account. However, such alternatives do not secure the anonymity of users in any ways. If your bank discovered a gambling transaction, you would most likely answer charges before the justice. This risk is not worth it.

Only Bet at SBO-Approved Betting Sites

We say it with no exaggeration, we’ve verified the details about every online bookmaker that accepts Saudi Arabians. All sports betting websites do not accept Saudi Arabians. Moreover, not all of those accepting them are worth joining. We have tested each and every betting site in order to save you from using ones known for having poor odds, slow payments and terrible customer support: here is your list of top choices.

Online sports betting sites which tick the boxes of a long list of requirements at SBO.net are the only ones we approve. Odds competitiveness and payment processing speed are among the many factors that we consider. Some of our recommended websites even have an Arabic version, which shows their seriousness in accommodating Saudi Arabian fans into their sports betting network.

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The Most Popular Sports in Saudi Arabia

The sport scene in Saudi Arabia is a mix of traditional and modern. Traditional sports like camel racing and falconry are not among those available for wagering at betting sites in Saudi Arabia, but you can get the best deals on their major soccer league and other games.

Football

One could argue that soccer is the most beloved sport in Saudi Arabia, and the country has been successful when it comes to international matters. Winning the Aisa cup for three times (1984, 1988, 1996), The Green Falcons have made a name for themselves in this area. It was not until 1994 that Saudi Arabia made its first appearance in a FIFA World Cup finals which took them up to the Round of 16th. Fifa World Cup records point out that since then they have never reached such climax till now despite qualifying four other times.

Saudi Arabia’s best online gambling sites also have betting options on the Saudi Professional League. Since the commencement of the country’s top national league in 1976, Al-Hilal has claimed a record 16 titles. In terms of winning records, Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad have triumphed nine and eight times correspondingly. Majed Abdullah is the highest scorer in the league with 189 goals for al Nassr legend.

Horse Racing

The Saudi Cup epitomizes the increasing sport focus of Saudi Arabia. To everyone’s surprise, the oil-rich nation declared that it will stage the richest horse race globally in Riyadh at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in 2020. The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia (JCSA) declared a total prize money amounting to $20m, something that naturally attracted international trainers and jockeys alike.

Saudi Cup was won by Maximum Security, which is a horse. The American horse completed with a lead of three quarters less than Midnight Bisou for the top position during the race. Nonetheless, Jason Servis who is Maximum Security’s trainer is being investigated by JCSA hence $10m in prize money has been withheld from connections of this winning horse through making use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) on horses under his care.

Camel Racing

Yes, there is camel racing. However, when online betting sites are involved; it is not possible to find any betting odds or live streams for races at these platforms. Dating back to the pre-Islamic era, camel racing is a beloved traditional sport in Saudi Arabia. It was an unruly game with thousands of camels dashing across the open desert. Currently, Camel racing has turned into a fan-favorite at places such as Riyadh Stadium where thousands of people flock every year.

The Crown Prince Camel Festival is one of the key events in Saudi Arabia’s camel racing calendar. It takes place at the camel racing field in Taif, during August where there are over 10,000 camels competing in more than 400 rounds of racing. It draws camel racing enthusiasts from all parts of the Arab world. It is no wonder since it has a prize pool which exceeds 50 million Saudi riyals as well.

Formula 1

The 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix was an epoch-making event as it was the first ever Formula One race held in the Middle East. From this perspective, there is a lot of rivalry between Saudi Arabians and Bahrainis who travel across King Fahd Causeway all the way to Sakhir every year for Bahrain Grand Prix. Nevertheless, it appears that Saudi Arabia will have its own race taking place in Jeddah, the country’s second largest city starting from 2021.

Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Grand Prix will be a street race. Additionally, there is also a state-of-the-art circuit being built in Qiddiya with Formula 1 races planned from 2023 onwards. Moreover, since the 2018-19 season, Saudi Arabians have had chances to bet on the Formula E Championship. At present, the Diriyah ePrix has become an annual event of the Formula E racing calendar.

The Future of Gambling in Saudi Arabia

One should not expect a quick amendment of the gambling laws in Saudi Arabia. Even though the country has strong Muslim practices, and there is no reason to have it emerged in such a big Muslim country that is predominantly anti-gambling. Over time, online betting and transfer of money will be a cinch but in Saudi, nothing can beat their brutal criminal legislations. In contrast to live gambling, many people prefer gambling online because it seems so much safer by comparison: individuals will gamble at home without going out on a limb.

Saudi Arabia’s government has improved its global image recently. In a historic move, women were allowed to attend sports events in stadiums for the first time since the driving ban was lifted. Since 2016 when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the Vision 2030 economic development program, it has also embraced western sports.

It was a controversial move for the authorities in Saudi Arabia to host the first heavyweight boxing title fight in the Middle East last year. This is when Anthony Joshua won a rematch against Andy Ruiz and reclaimed his titles.

Despite claims from critics that it was nothing short of ‘sports washing’, the Saudi government maintains its wish to host big sporting events is essentially a drive towards social reform.

Who knows? Perhaps it will be followed in the future by a different attitude about the legality of gambling. Until then, you can bet on your favourite sports at our recommended Saudi Arabia sports betting sites.

Saudi Arabia Betting FAQs

Is sports betting legal in Saudi Arabia?

No, all forms of gambling are illegal in the devoutly Islamic country. However, many of the country’s residents secretly bet on their favourite sports. Read our guide to online betting in Saudi Arabia to discover everything you need to know about the Middle Eastern countries strict gambling laws.

Is it safe to gamble online in Saudi Arabia?

Despite gambling being illegal in Saudi Arabia, there are a few steps you can take to stay safe when betting online. You can bypass website blocks by subscribing to a premium VPN. We also recommend choosing an anonymous payment method like Bitcoin to keep transactions private.

Can I deposit in SAR when betting online?

No, unfortunately not. Even the best sports betting sites for Saudi Arabians don’t accept the country’s official currency. As Saudi riyal (SAR) won’t be an option, you will need to select an alternative currency during the registration process. Your best bet is to select US dollar or Euro and then convert your funds.
Q.

Are Saudi Arabians eligible for betting bonuses?

A.
Absolutely! The most generous betting sites roll out the red carpet for all new customers. You may receive a free bet, match bonus, or a combination of both. If your bonus requires a deposit, make sure you read the T&Cs because deposits via anonymous payment methods often aren’t eligible for bonuses.
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