In spite of the complete ban on gambling, tourists flock to Bahrain in large numbers. Every year, an estimated 8 million outsiders visit the country, mostly attracted to the annual Bahrain Grand Prix. Interestingly, Bahrain is the first Arab country to construct a Formula One racetrack within its borders.
Lawmakers Cracking Down on Gambling Penalties
A June 2014 report in the Gulf Daily News indicates just how fiercely against gambling the lawmakers of Bahrain are. During a weekly parliament session held at the beginning of June, there was a call to ban alcohol and prescribe harsher penalties for gambling. The members of the parliament discussed a wide range of harsh penalties for everything considered harm or forbidden by their religion, and this includes alcohol drinking, gambling, and consumption of pork.
A prison term of three months and a fine of BD300 were approved for those caught gambling in public places. If any gambler is caught repeating the offense, he or she would be given a prison term of one year and a fine of BD500. Those who operate gambling houses or host gambling activities would be fined BD1,000 and given prison time of one year. In addition, the government would shut down commercial outlets that host gambling activities and revoke their licenses.
Those fond of betting real money on sports events may turn to offshore online sportsbooks, but even this could turn out to be difficult as Bahrain practices a high degree of Internet censorship. The country blocks all websites related to gambling activities, but some residents solve the problem by using virtual private networks.