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Betting in Yemen

Published on: 08/08/2016

The Republic of Yemen is located at the top of the Arabian Peninsula, facing the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The region also includes approximately 200 islands. Yemen’s official currency is the Rial and the national language spoken is Arabic. Yemen differs from other Arab countries because it is the only nation in the Middle East to operate under a parliamentary government as opposed to being an Emirate, Sultanate or Kingdom. Yemen also stands apart for being the poorest of the Arab countries. Unlike Oman or Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s oil reserves are much more limited. Yemen has high unemployment, one of the world’s highest birth rates, poor literacy, and crime and drugs are rife. The country’s population exceeds 25 million, with the majority of people being of the Muslim faith.

Due to these factors, plus uncertain future prospects for a fast recovery, the nation has increasingly become more fractious. In 2011, anti-government protests became widespread and Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned British Nationals to leave Yemen. It has only been in recent history that South and North Yemen have come together to form a Republic. Prior to this, the region was under colonial rule of the Ottoman Turks then under a British protectorate for more than a century.

Yemen laws are structured around Islam. Gambling in casinos, betting shops or games of chance are not allowed. What’s more the Koran stipulates gambling as “an abomination and the work of Satan”, thus no forms of gambling are tolerated.

Yemen does not host any internet sportsbooks, games or casino web sites and there are no regulations or licences for online betting. The government has taken steps to bar its citizens from being able to access betting web sites - however, the people still manage to frequent off-shore gambling portals.

Many sportsbooks are available for Yemen citizens including William Hill, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Bet365, BetVictor and 888Sport. There are even a few online betting companies who provide information using the Arabic language. Ideas have been expressed about the positive effects that gambling could bring to the Middle East, in particular to its struggling economics. Some opinions suggest that opening the gambling market in Yemen to neighbouring countries and nationals could create a much-needed financial boom.

The opening up of Yemen’s gambling market would also impede the country’s illegal gambling activity. A large proportion of locals place their bets through illegal sports gambling companies, which are reportedly organized by kidnappers and pirates. Having a regulated gambling operation would not only bring the black market under some sort of control, but it would also create revenue and jobs.