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The availability of gambling in the country of Jordan is very limited, as Jordan is one of the countries which follows the Islamic faith, which views gambling in general as a sin. Religion drives the law in many Islamic countries, unlike many much more secular countries which distinctly separate religion and lawmaking, but in countries such as Jordan, religious laws are considered fundamental to the laws of the country.
The law in Jordan makes it illegal for gambling in a public place, which is a misdemeanor, although it doesn’t even mention gambling in private, curiously enough. However it isn’t unusual for Islamic countries to view what we could call public displays of vices to be more serious. For instance, in Jordan it is also against the law to be drunk in a public place, although presumably if you were drunk in private that wouldn’t be against the law, even though both drinking and gambling are seen as sins. (2)
Public gambling though includes gambling in any public place, which includes such things as casinos and poker rooms, and there are neither here in Jordan, at least not of the legal variety.
Whatever underground gambling that goes on in Jordan isn’t significant enough for it to be tracked or even really known, so unlike several countries in Asia, and even some pretty strict Muslim ones, who do have at least a fair bit of underground gambling going on, with some even having extreme amounts, this is not much of an issue here in Jordan.
This does mean though that those who seek to gamble in Jordan will have to primarily seek other means of doing so besides partaking in live gambling at physical locations, but nowadays there’s plenty of virtual gambling to be had if one really does seek it, and this is the case in Jordan as well.
In spite of all of this though, Jordan looks like they are close to being tempted to start running some live gambling, and in fact a major scandal occurred in 2011, termed “Casinogate,” where the country’s prime minister was found to have authorized a secret deal to allow the building of a casino in Jordan.
I’m not sure how long he felt this could be kept a secret though, and the word did end up getting out, which he tried to deny. Due to pressure, the government ended up backing out of the deal, and paying a $1.4 billion penalty for not going through with the deal. (3)
So on the one hand they may be somewhat enticed with the potential tax revenue and tourist dollars building a casino would bring, but on the other hand they are opposed enough to pay this much money in a penalty rather than to see this through. So it may be quite some time indeed before we ever see a land based casino in Jordan, and the climate will have to change quite a bit for that to happen, although it’s certainly possible one day.
Jordan is certainly less stringent toward gambling than some Islamic states though, and they do permit the lottery and even bingo, so they are at least moving in the direction of being more liberal towards it. (4)
Playing Poker In Jordan
While Jordan does have a few bingo halls these days, bingo isn’t considered gambling here, nor is the lottery, but poker certainly is. We may wonder why there is such a distinction here but it may be that poker is thrown in with casino games, like craps, roulette, blackjack, and slot machines, but bingo actually has much more in common with these than it does with poker, as these are all generally games of chance, as is the lottery, where poker has at least a significant element of skill to it.
This does leave the online poker sites to play at though, and while there are of course no authorized Jordanian online poker sites, players from here can play at several online poker sites without interference.
Jordanians are well known for their penchant for gambling online in fact, in spite of this being a conservative country generally, and it seems that while people may not seem that willing to gamble in public, when it come to what happens behind closed doors, the situation appears to be much different.
The Jordanian government at this time does not take measures to keep players from playing at online gambling sites and online poker sites, so there’s really nothing preventing people from playing all the online poker they want, other than the fact that some online poker sites such as PokerStars no longer offer play to Jordanians. (5)
However there are several sites that don’t really care what country you are from, so there still is some selection as far as online poker sites go. This is welcome by many players here, and while poker hasn’t really been that popular in Jordan traditionally, the internet is changing that.
Facebook’s Texas Holdem app is said to have over 600,000 fans from Jordan on it, and it was actually the most liked entertainment page on Facebook by Jordanians, and this is free money play so it doesn’t even have all of the added thrills of playing for money, so poker is really catching on here. It’s been clearly shown that introducing people to the game with play money certainly helps build the game’s real money player base, so this is definitely bodes well. (6)
So poker may be an upstart game in Jordan but it is certainly on the way up as far as it’s growth is concerned, and for those who want to try out the real thing, with real money, there is plenty of opportunity to do that.