Betting of all types is forbidden in Qatar. The country’s legal system is based partially on Islamic law and that includes a strict ban on anything that could be construed as gambling. There are penalties for both those who organize gambling games and those who participate.
Online gambling falls under this general ban as well but it doesn’t appear to be a major concern for Qatari officials. The government does censor the web of certain material, including content related to pornography, political criticism of Gulf countries or leaders and websites deemed offensive to Islam. I have seen sporadic reports of some Qatar betting sites being blocked, but it doesn’t seem to be a widespread issue.
Whatever the case may be, you won’t have any problems finding a place to play online. All of the world’s largest online betting sites accept customers from Qatar. If you’re interested in testing your luck and winning real money, here’s a look at some of the safest sites located overseas:
Best Qatari Betting Sites
The foreign betting sites in Qatar operate in Western countries where there are no laws against betting. In fact, these sites are located in places where gambling is considered a legitimate industry. These sites are regulated by their respective governments to ensure fair games and player protections.
If it seems scary to book bets with people overseas, you can take comfort in knowing that these sites are in no risk of being raided by police officials. What they are doing is legal where they reside. It’s up to you to decide if you want to risk breaking the law here to access Qatari gambling sites.
You can play online by making a deposit with a credit card, bank transfer or e-wallet such as Neteller or Skrill. Considering the dubious nature of gaming laws in Qatar, I’d be inclined to use an e-wallet for additional privacy. Banks don’t actively look for signs of gambling, but it wouldn’t hurt to use an e-wallet nonetheless.
An e-wallet account is set up online and acts as a temporary safe spot for your money. Once you link your e-wallet to your bank account, you can send money to and from your e-wallet using direct bank transfers. The bank only sees a transaction to the e-wallet as opposed to a transaction straight to a well-known betting site. Once the money hits your e-wallet account, you can then send it on to the gambling site of your choice.
Qatari Gambling Law
The gambling laws of Qatar are short and simple. Articles 274, 275, 276 and 277 of Law 11 of 2004 make it quite clear:
” Gambling is any game in which the probability of gain and loss depends on the luck and not on controlled factors and each party agrees to give the amount of money, in case of loss, to the winning party.”
You could argue back and forth whether certain games are based on luck or skill, but the government is likely to rule that anything that even resembles gambling is indeed gambling. Most interpretations of Islamic law classify everything from sports betting to casino games to poker to be a form of gambling.
The penalty for participating in gambling is up to three months in prison and a fine of up to3,000 riyals. If caught gambling in a public place, those fines are bumped up to a maximum of six months in prison and a maximum fine of 6,000 riyals. These laws aren’t as harsh as what we see in some other countries in the region but still… even a day in prison isn’t particularly fun.
Qatar doesn’t outlaw the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) inside the country. However, it does consider it a crime to use a VPN to access prohibited material. Expats from the West claim to use VPNs frequently in Qatar and have reported no legal problems to date.
It seems to be mostly safe to bet online in Qatar even though the activity is technically illegal. Authorities don’t seem to take much interest in hunting down individual gamblers playing from the comfort of home. However, I cannot say that the risk is zero. There is always some risk when breaking the law in an Islamic country.
Wes Burns has more than a decade’s worth of experience as a writer, researcher, and analyst in the legal online betting industry and is co-founder of OnlineBettingSites.com. Wes approaches his work from the viewpoint of players.