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Playing Casino Games in Pakistan

Casino activity is haram in Islamic jurisprudence and likewise prohibited throughout Pakistan. There is however a double standard in the land of the pure. Since 1979, there has been legal tote betting on horse racing. Prize bonds, which are a lottery, have been widely marketed legally since the early-1980s. Neither activity is permissible under sharia, but from some reason or another both are permissible under the laws of our land.

These days many people such as myself view prize bonds and horse racing as our parents games. Many of us prefer betting cricket, card games, and of course casino! The latter is exciting because there is so much variety in blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat, slots, etc. where money is won and lost in a matter of seconds while playing an intriguing game. And how harmful could it be? There are legal casinos around our region in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Macau (China) and Cambodia. All of which came to exist fairly recently.

As popular as casinos are, the biggest mistake a Pakistani gambler can make is playing casino games in local gambling dens. These are very often not safe! When safe, they are often not fair! Finally, gambling arrests at the player level in Pakistan most often involve gambling with locals. On occasion it is cricket or field hockey betting, but more often than not it involves a casino. To specify, yes, for sports betting bookies are arrested often. But, when players are arrested, more than 9 times out of 10 it involves playing cards or casino table games.

For Pakistan residents looking to gamble casino games safely, there is only one sure way. Take a holiday to somewhere that has legal gambling. The quickest option is booking a flight to Colombo to play in Sri Lanka casinos. Mihin Lanka is a discount airline with a 4h 20m direct flight from Lahore. There is plenty to do there besides just casinos. For those who just want to gamble on demand, legal and licensed foreign online casinos are another okay option. Before concluding with Pakistan gambling law, I discuss how these work.

Online Casinos from Pakistan

When choosing an online casino there are important things to look for. It should be licensed and regulated in a reputable foreign country. There are tiny Caribbean islands such as Antigua (population ~81,000 people) and Curacao (population about ~155,000 people) claiming to be regulated but these are tax and legal havens we are not certain we can trust. As players we are looking for internet casinos licensed instead by major countries not known for corruption. UK licensed casinos are our top choice because UK has by far the most mature legal gambling market. Next we are looking for ones that accept Pakistan residents and have banking methods we can use.

www.bet365.com is the number one site that meets our requirements. They have held a UK gambling license since 1974 originally as a legal betting shop franchise called Provincial Racing. Today they are a mega company that operates one of the world’s largest gambling websites, and also own the English Premier League (EPL) football franchise Stoke City. Here we can play casino games, bet sports including cricket, play bingo and online poker. Their casino is super impressive using software from PlayTech and other sources that covers all the popular table games and slots, and they even have live dealer tables too. My article on Sports Betting in Pakistan covers the ways residents of our country can deposit and get paid using their website. Be sure to check that out for information.

The article I just mentioned about sports betting also covers sites where it is possible to use bitcoin and Western Union to deposit. One example is www.5dimes.eu. They do not meet our requirement on the casino side of things because they are based in Costa Rica and thus not licensed by a reputable foreign country. Our concern is their computer game software for casino is not audited. However, online since 1998 this is a site many players from the United States trust fully. They have low margins and a spotless track record for payments even while servicing USA where online gambling is as heavily restricted as it is in Pakistan. At 5Dimes I’d suggest playing their live dealer games. These are visually-fair thus there is no software that needs to be audited.

Live dealer games are ones where the action is played out in a real casino studio. There is actual gaming tables, cards, and a live dealer. You can chat with the dealer in the text box. It is all done using webcam rending technology. The bets are placed online but the action happens live in a studio that is configured just like a real brick and mortar casino. Both Bet365 and 5Dimes offer live dealer games. The games offered include baccarat, blackjack, roulette and sic-bo. I mention both sites because they have different banking option. If you are able to use both, my choice would be Bet365. This is especially true if playing computer based casino games such as online slots. With casino games now covered I conclude with our gambling law.

Pakistan Gambling Laws

The Prevention of Gambling Act, 1977 is the law that makes gambling in Pakistan illegal. Those guilty of unlawful gambling can be punished with a fine not exceeding Pakistan rupee (PKR) Rs. 1,000. Though rare at the player level prison sentences up to 1 year can be given.

Some articles on the web claim this is an old law and does not apply to internet gambling. This is 100% false! Courts have ruled that connecting to a computer to wager constitutes OPERATING a gambling den, which is very intense! Others claim people are rarely arrested but this isn’t true. There is news of arrests almost daily as several hundred Pakistanis are arrested for gambling each year. There is some truth to the online aspect being less of an issue though.

Pakistan authorities have no jurisdiction over online casinos that operate legally in foreign countries. Our country has enough trouble in other areas keeping diplomatic relations with our supposed allies. Meddling in the affairs of a country like UK where gambling has long been legal, is something we a) don’t have the resources for, and b) just is not very smart. Therefore, as those countries view it as legal, and this is where these sites operate from, Pakistan pays little attention on the operator side of things.

As for the players using a foreign internet casino, this is all done from the comfort of our own homes using an internet connection. It is not public nuisance and therefore is a very low priority of the authorities. If you don’t talk about it, and do it private, chances are low you will ever be caught. This is why online casinos are generally dismissed as not being a very serious crime. It is also what is helping fuel online poker in Pakistan which is now becoming very popular too.