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Kuwait is another Middle Eastern country that follows the laws of Islam, and while some Islamic countries have more relaxed standards for gambling than others, Kuwait is like several others that strictly prohibit gambling in all forms.
So a discussion of the gambling laws of Kuwait becomes a very simple one, it is against the law to gamble here, period. Tourists who come here, not that Kuwait gets a lot of tourists mind you, are disappointed to find out that all gambling, as well as drinking alcohol, is strictly forbidden in Kuwait, whether you are a tourist or not. (1)
Kuwait does have a lot of expats though, and in fact, Kuwaitis are the minority here, with two thirds of the population being foreigners, and many of them do not have the same beliefs, and in fact the majority of the people living in Kuwait aren’t even from the Middle East, they are from South Asia, particularly India. (2)
There’s very little legal gambling in that part of the world as well, but people from these countries generally gamble quite a bit anyway, so this is a different dynamic than you see in a strictly Muslim country where gambling is against both the law and religious beliefs, and people will refrain from gambling for both reasons.
The result is that Kuwait has quite a bit of gambling going on, even though all of it is illegal. The police here are quite eager to enforce the anti gambling laws and shut these operations down, unlike some places where the authorities may take a much more hands off approach to gambling enforcement, and a lot of the gambling in Kuwait is conducted by mobile operations, like for instance in parking garages. (3)
Most of the illegal gambling here goes unprotected though, although there have been some higher profile gambling busts, such as the casino that was run by a doctor which got broken up and saw 33 people get arrested for gambling. (4)
In this particular case, one of the gamblers at this establishment lost over a half a million dollars at the casino, and was upset enough to report the place to the police. This gives you an idea of the kind of stakes that were played at this illegal casino though, and at the time this was believed to be the largest underground casino in Kuwait.
There is said to be several other casinos operating in the country and there is likely many more that the authorities aren’t aware of. Of course you have to be somewhat in the know to even be aware of the existence of these gambling halls, and if caught, you can face up to 3 months in jail in addition to a fine. (5)
Playing Poker in Kuwait
Given that Kuwait doesn’t have places where you can play poker for money legally, players have to either play live poker illegally or play online. It’s hard to say what extent that one can find a live game here, there are probably some private games that exist but no one is talking about them.
Poker players in Kuwait can turn to online poker though, although the government here does place restrictions on certain internet sites, and while Kuwait isn’t known publicly to block online poker sites, there are reports from people inside Kuwait who testify to this being the case.
There is also some concern that making financial transactions through Kuwaiti regulated financial institutions may involve some risk, so it’s probably wise to use an internet wallet to deposit and withdraw money from online poker rooms, just to be on the safe side, as the authorities here definitely want to limit online gambling as much as they can, and they even have gone as far as to warn people not to play on play money poker sites.
As far as being able to access online poker sites in Kuwait, what people are doing here, as well as in other countries where free access to the internet is restricted, is to go though a virtual private network, or VPN. What happens here is that users connect to a server located in another country, with no restrictions, and this allows them to visit any internet site they wish, and their government cannot even trace this beyond the server.
Online poker is surprisingly popular in Kuwait for an Arab country, but once again, Arabs are in the minority here, so that isn’t all that surprising. The Kuwaiti government laments about how many young people have taken to online poker, and they undoubtedly would like to see this stopped, but there is only so much a government can do to restrict internet freedom, and if people have internet access, and want to play online poker, and really want to play it, they will play it.
As for the future, there is at least some talk now of legalizing gambling and alcohol consumption in designated tourist areas of the country, and at least one politician here thinks that may be a good idea, but unlike some countries, Kuwait is not really that motivated to go after the tax dollars that this may bring them, as they are already pretty wealthy from the oil business, and they are firmly against both gambling and drinking, so this might take quite some time to pass, at best.
Top Poker Rooms For Players From Kuwait
Kuwaiti online poker players have a pretty good selection of some of the world’s best online poker sites to choose from. All of these online poker sites offer generous bonuses to welcome Kuwaiti players. There’s lots of action at all of them including plenty of both cash games and tournaments.
888 Poker has been around since the beginning and have gotten even better with time. This is an extremely popular site, with lots of action around the clock, and is at the top of the heap as far as the sites that accept players from Kuwait.
The next busiest site is the iPoker Network, which you can access from both Titan Poker and Bet365 Poker. This is another very popular place to play online poker and Kuwaiti players are lucky to be able to play here because they don’t accept players from many countries.
Black Chip Poker is another good choice for Kuwaiti players, and while the traffic isn’t quite as good as these other 2 places, but they more than make up for it with the easier competition that is offered here. They are also very aggressive in looking to win your business and the promotions here are better than most.