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Gambling in Egypt has a very long history, going back at least as far back as 3000 BC, as part of Egypt’s very rich ancient culture, which is famous for being rather advanced for its time.
Egypt is the most populous country in the Middle East and the third most populous country in Africa, and the 15th in the world, with 90 million people. Egypt doesn’t have the luxury of large oil and gas reserves like several countries in the region do, and they are in fact a net importer now, but the economy here is fairly well developed, and they are certainly well ahead of the curve by African standards, with a PPP per capita GDP of about $11,000. (1)
Unlike many countries which rely on one or two major industries to drive their economy, Egypt is very diversified and even have a developed tech sector nowadays. Tourism represents a big part of their economy as well and this has played a big role in driving their land based gambling business here, which is pretty extensive.
Egypt is a Muslim country and it’s unusual for Muslim countries to offer gambling, but their religious beliefs do influence gambling quite a bit anyway, as only non Egyptians are permitted to gamble in the casinos here. Ironically, most of their patrons are Muslims from other countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, but they don’t seem to care, a foreign passport is all that’s required to gain admission, never mind that where they are from may have an even stricter view on gambling. (2)
Egyptian casinos operate in English and use the U.S. dollar as currency, so this really hits home at how this is not designed at all to cater to Egyptians. Like some countries, Egypt warmly approves of gambling, just as long as it’s done by people who don’t live here, but they shield their people from it, at these establishments anyway.
So this is a case where economics meets moral beliefs, and instead of just banning gambling like a lot of Middle Eastern countries do, they see this as a trade off and have found a way to balance their moral concerns with reaping the rewards of the revenue that gambling generates. This is not a part of the world where there are a lot of casinos to say the least, and they are pretty strategically located as well, so they do take advantage of that fact and do quite a bit of casino business as a result.
There are a total of 27 casinos in Egypt right now, most in the Cairo area, the country’s capital and largest city of 20 million people. Many of them offer hotels as well, and a full range of gambling services. These casinos tend to be on the more modest side as far as land based casinos go, as is typically the case in Africa generally, and there is a total of about 150,000 square feet of casino floor space here, with 186 table games and 544 slot machines in total, a good amount but not a huge one by any means. (3)
As far as land based gambling among the people of Egypt is concerned, there aren’t any legal options, and whatever live underground gambling that goes on here is done in secret. So the live underground gambling here is well underground.
Playing Poker in Egypt
Poker is a game that has really grown in Egypt in recent years, and the internet has a lot to do with this growth. Egypt has a pretty good internet penetration rate, especially among African countries, where about half of the population have access to online gambling.
The internet has really picked up the slack well as far as taking care of the need of Egyptians to gamble, and while they are not allowed to gamble in public, there’s no laws against them gambling online. (4)
Online gambling is still in its early stages of development in Egypt though but it’s really catching on fast, and this is really the case with poker. Egypt hosts a variety of poker tournaments, and this together with the wide exposure that poker gets on the internet has really stimulated an interest in poker here recently.
As far as the casinos go, there are 10 poker rooms in Egypt with a total of 29 poker tables, a decent amount to be sure for those visiting the country and looking to play some live poker. (5)
Since Egyptian citizens aren’t allowed at these casinos, they are forced to either play in home games or play online, and the online option has really become popular lately, and there are no restrictions on either being able to access these online poker sites nor any attempts to block financial transactions to and from them, so the scene is pretty wide open.
One of the benefits of a government taking a standoffish view of online gambling is that they aren’t likely to regulate it anytime soon, in other words to provide regulated options to their people, and given that Egypt isn’t interested in regulating land based gambling to their people, this is very unlikely at this time. So the government in other words stays out of the matter and that’s absolutely perfect. (6)
While the number of online poker players from Egypt is still fairly small compared to some other countries where the poker market is well developed, Egypt’s large population, combined with their love of gambling, is seeing them catch up more and more, and in time this may end up being a significant online poker market indeed as the game becomes more popularized here.
So Egyptians are free to play at whatever online poker sites that will take them, and the real good news is that there are some very good sites that warmly accept poker players from Egypt. Some poker sites like Poker Stars and Full Tilt have exited the Egyptian market for whatever reason, although we’re not fond of Poker Stars or Full Tilt anyway though, and we have some better choices for you below:
Top Online Poker Sites Accepting Players From Egypt
So here are our top 4 sites for online poker players from Egypt. These are all top notch sites and have been selected for you from among all the many online sites that accept Egyptians. All offer first time players a very nice welcome package, including some free bonus cash to entice you even more to try them out.
Leading off our list for you is 888 Poker. This site operated for years as Pacific Poker and has been around since online poker has been in its infancy, and over the years has climbed up the rankings all the way to the top now. This is an outstanding poker site and has everything an online poker player would wish for.
Another extremely popular place to play online poker is the iPoker Network, which is right up there with 888 Poker in terms of traffic. There are dozens of sites on this network, but the best two are Titan Poker and Bet 365 Poker, and both are great choices not only among iPoker’s sites but among all online poker sites. You’ll be well taken care of as a player here.
Black Chip Poker has really made an impact on the poker scene lately and this site is the most welcoming of all online poker sites and accept players from just about everywhere, and is particularly known to be pretty fishy as well, two things we really like. The traffic is a little lighter here than the other 3 but they make up for this with even softer competition. If your results matter to you then Black Chip Poker is certainly worth checking out.