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Betting in Morocco

Published on: 01/02/2016

The Islamic nation of Morocco condones many types of gambling, however the country’s gambling industry is relatively small. Lately, it seems that the Moroccan government might be looking to open up the market in view of to maximise tourist revenues and to benefit local companies.

In 1956, Morocco became independent, having previously been under majority French rule, with other regions falling under Spanish jurisdiction. In 1958, Southern Marruecos, now known as Tarfaya, also became part of the new nation.

The Es Saadi Hotel in Marrakech was the location of Morocco’s first casino, and was established prior to the kingdom gaining independence. The Casino de Marrakech was created in 1952 and attracted clients from all over the world as well as local residents.

A lack of clear gambling regulations meant that many more casinos were added over time. Today, the country boasts seven main establishments including Le Grand Casino La Mamounia in Marrakech, the Mövenpick Hotel & Casino Malabata in Tanger, and the Mazagan Resort and Casino in Casablanca. The coastal city of Agadir hosts three gambling venues on Morocco’s southwest shore, the largest of which is the 20,000 square-foot Casino Atlantic, which houses 200 gaming machines and 16 table games. The Casino le Mirage and Shem’s Casino d’Agadir make up the trio.

The national lottery was founded in 1972 and signalled the country’s willingness to accept certain forms of betting. However, other the Muslim country has been reluctant to endorse other forms of gambling on a widespread basis.

It is not illegal to wager on sports in Morocco but the activity is strictly limited to certain events such as games involving the national soccer team. The lack of horse racing tracks has prevented any interest in that sport. The predominantly Muslim population are not interested in gambling, so any betting establishments cater their services towards the 8 million tourists that visit each year.

More recently however, the popularity of online betting has started to rise. As a result, the government launched two national online sports lottery services in 2009. It is suspected that more far-reaching regulation regarding commercial online gambling will follow in the near future. Until then, Moroccans have access to more nearly 500 foreign online betting websites that are happy to accept their business.

Some offshore betting companies have even launched Arab language versions of their sites in order to attract more customer from countries such as Morocco. Further plans for large casino resorts in the country have been initiated, as Morocco set out to boost revenue from world tourism by embracing casino and gaming culture.