Exploring the rich iGaming potential of Algeria
30 September 2019 / Other
Sitting atop Africa’s North Western tip is the continent’s largest country – Algeria. All forms of gambling, including online, are illegal in the world’s tenth-largest nation. Over 98 percent of Algerians are Muslim, and the country’s legal system is based on Sharia law. Indeed, gambling is strictly forbidden by the Quran, and therefore by Algerian law.
Online Gambling in Algeria
However, state-sanctioned lotteries and sports betting are used for funding social welfare and public projects. In fact, there’s a 40% tax on all winning and even the occasional instances where betting is permitted are closer to charity than gambling. The country has no licenced gambling sites of its own, nor are there any foreign web-based gaming services hosted within its borders.
Not satisfied with simply restricting gambling services, in the last decade government officials have also tried to censor any website at all that encourages ‘moral degeneracy’.
The best option for Algerian gamblers is therefore to use international operators who accept players from all corners of the globe. Although such providers are offshore for Algerian residents, they are regulated by local authorities to ensure a fair gaming experience. Given that the country’s restrictive betting laws focus on providers, rather than players, Algerians can enjoy playing without fear of legal reprisal.
As ever, though, caution is advisable. While Algerian gambling regulations don’t specify punishments for individual punters, the authorities can simply use other laws to press charges against them. Thus far, however, they have shown no intent to do so.
Online Poker and Online Sports Betting
Although poker is forbidden by Islamic law, there are some foreign sites accessible to Algerian players. Among these exist a variety of international operators, many of them French. France’s gambling laws prohibit citizens from using international poker sites, but players residing in other countries can play on French websites.
Surprisingly, Algerian regulations around sports betting are less stringent. Moreover, the country has hippodromes where horse racing is organized. Betting on them is illegal, of course, but sports gambling often happens regardless.
Both online casino and sports betting are prohibited by law, and websites are typically blocked, but individuals are very rarely prosecuted.
Potential Regulatory Changes
Clearly, Algerian gambling enthusiasts already play in a highly restrictive regulatory environment. They have little reason to be more optimistic about the future. Lawmakers are considering closing some of the loopholes enjoyed by gamblers. If they do, using a VPN gateway to access foreign sites will be the least of any player’s worries. Indeed, the state is considering criminalizing the evasion of government filters.
However, iGaming is very popular in Algeria, and there is hope that the positive industry landscape in many South African states will inspire their fellow Africans on the other side of the continent to follow suit. If they do, Algerian gamblers may finally have something to cheer about.