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Bahrain is a small island nation just off the coast of Saudi Arabia, and in fact you can drive from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain over the 16 mile long King Fahd Causeway. This certainly makes the island quite accessible, and no doubt contributes to the relatively large amount of tourists they get here in comparison to the population, attracting about 8 million tourists a year with a population of only about 1.3 million people. (1)
They are the only Arab country to host a Formula One race, the Bahrain Grand Prix, which has done a lot to popularize the country and is probably what Bahrain is most famous for. So there is definitely a lot of potential for setting up casinos here and taking advantage of all of this tourist traffic, especially given the fact that there are no other casinos in the area, if Bahrain was disposed to do so, but they are definitely not.
Like the other strictly Muslim countries in the area, gambling in Bahrain is strictly forbidden. Bahrain isn’t one of the more progressive countries in the world either, as for example, they didn’t give women the right to vote until 2002, and given that gambling is not allowed under Islamic law, and this country is definitely strictly Islamic, gambling here isn’t tolerated at all, and there are no legal places to play it.
Rather than looking to loosen these restrictions, Bahrain has gone the other way, as they recently increased the penalties for gambling, where a first offense now gets you 3 months in jail along with a fine, and the penalty jumps to a year in prison along with a bigger fine for the second offense, the same penalty for those found to be operating gambling facilities. (2)
It’s noteworthy that these gambling offenses pertain to public gambling, and like several other Islamic countries, they seem to be more concerned with the appearance of gambling than actual gambling itself, the same approach they take with drinking, where drinking in public or public drunkenness is what the law seeks to curtail. (3)
However, Bahrain still wants to try to prevent people from gambling, and online gambling isn’t permitted here either, and the government does attempt to block people from accessing online gambling sites through the use of internet filters, although these filters are said to be not very effective, and a lot of people here gamble online anyway.
While there is undoubtedly some underground gambling that exists here, there doesn’t seem to be very much of it, or people aren’t really getting caught very much for doing it, and nowadays with the internet, and people do have very wide access to it here, players are taking to their computers a lot more rather than risking getting caught and thrown into prison for gambling at live venues.
Interestingly, even some members of the Bahrani royal family like to gamble online, and back in 2011, one of their members got himself into a lot of hot water by racking up $375 million in gambling debt to British online sports book Spreadex, which resulted in the online bookie acquiring ownership of a Bahrani palace to settle the debt. The royal family had to buy them out, as foreign ownership of Bahrani palaces aren’t allowed by law, something the family wasn’t too impressed over. (4)
Poker In Bahrain
The game of poker here does have a decent following, especially compared to some other Arab countries, and while it’s not anywhere near as popular as it is in places like the UAE and Kuwait, who both have a lot of expats, given that they have oil here, they still have a good amount of expats, and some of the natives here play online poker as well. So poker is starting to catch on pretty well here, in spite of it not being a game that has been played here traditionally, nor is legal to play. (5)
The internet filtering that the government uses to block gambling sites isn’t said to work as effectively as it does in some other countries here, and players may get access to online poker rooms even without having to use a virtual private network to circumvent the filters. However, virtual private networks are used by online poker players in many countries where internet censorship is practiced and it is totally effective in getting around these filters, since you are connecting to the online poker sites from a server in another countries where these restrictions don’t exist.
Bahrain is one of the least likely places on Earth to liberalize their poker and gambling laws anytime soon. This is not a place where they even care whether poker is a sport or a game or skill or not, betting just isn’t allowed, and there’s no reason to suspect that this will change anytime soon.
In the mean time though, if you are in Bahrain and do want to play some online poker, access to online poker sites for people living in Bahrain is readily available, and while there are quite a few countries these days which some online poker sites have seen fit to stop accepting players from, Bahrain isn’t one of them, so your options are wide open here.
Best Online Poker Sites Accepting Players from Bahrain
Once you are able to connect to online poker sites, whether you do that directly or need to use a server in another country to do so, you still need to know where you can play, and a poker sites only take players from certain countries. Luckily though, the selection for players from Bahrain is excellent, and there are some real good spots to play at, the best on the internet actually.
When you try out a new poker site, they generally will reward you with some bonus money to entice you to give them a try, and all 5 of our top recommendations for you offer some nice free cash to start you on your way. So among the sites you could pick, here are the best:
888 Poker has won the award for the best online poker site in the world several times, and the sheer amount of people that play here and enjoy the place is an even bigger testimony to how good they are. They even offer players some free cash to get started even if you don’t have money to deposit yet.
Titan Poker is the largest site on the iPoker Network, which is the largest poker network in the world, and Titan is famous for really taking care of its players, which is how they got to where they are today. Bet 365 Poker is another good site on this network, and they are more famous for their sports betting, but also have some great poker as well.
Party Poker is the fussiest of our top 5 recommendations overall, as far as the countries that they no longer take players from, but fortunately if you are from Bahrain, Bahrain is on their green list, so you can play here. Party Poker is world famous for the great poker that it has been offering players since the dawn of online poker.
Black Chip Poker isn’t on a lot of people’s radar, but it’s on ours, and while they have been around for quite a while, the word has gotten out about them a lot more lately, and they have taken off to the point were the traffic here is now quite good, and it’s a very good site overall to be sure.