Most Popular Bookies in Iraq

Iraq is located in the Middle East, bordering many nations, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, and the Persian Gulf. Despite boasting millions of barrels of oil, the country has not had a rosy life of late, following the US invasion in 2003, culminating in the seizure of the country's president, Sadam Hussein. Today, the government focuses on rebuilding its economy more than cracking down on online gamblers, despite being an Islamic nation.

As mentioned, Iraq is a Muslim country. It is governed by the Sharia Law, whose stand on gambling is clear; gambling is Haram, meaning sinful. Thus, the Iraqi authorities have no option but to outlaw all forms of gambling in the country. However, many Iraq nationals bet online. And while there are no online sportsbooks licensed in Iraq (there is no licensing body after all), these citizens turn to offshore platforms to satisfy their betting enthusiasm.

Thankfully, hundreds of online sportsbooks admit people from Iraq, allowing them to place bets on a wide range of sports, including football, basketball, tennis, volleyball, etc. Hence, while betting may not be prevalent in Iraq, the fact is, a considerable percentage of the Iraqi population enjoy it.

To help the reader better understand the betting landscape, this post looks at the history of gambling in Iraq, the favorite games and payment methods for bettors in Iraq, and the legality of this pastime in the country.

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History of betting in Iraq

History of betting in Iraq

While there is Sharia Law which is quite prohibitive on matters of betting and gambling in general, there used to be a few betting establishments in Iraq before 2014 when the war broke out. In fact, physical betting locations, especially those in Suleimani city, operated until recently. However, following the 2018 police crackdown on gamblers in Iraq, gambling in physical casinos seems to have been put to bed.

As anyone would expect of an Arabian country, horse racing has always been one of the most popular sports in Iraq, and betting on this sport is believed to be among the oldest betting practices in the country. Despite its popularity, the former Iraq president, Sadam Hussein, banned the sport and commanded that a mosque be erected at the country's biggest horse racing track.

Besides horse racing, camel racing is yet another sport that enjoyed popularity in Iraq. This was a sport of young boys from Pakistan and Bangladesh. In 2006, riders were replaced with robots. In Saddam's tenure, organizing cockfighting events was prohibited, and this has been upheld to date (as of 2022). This seems unfair to fans and punters, considering that the activity was part of the country's culture for centuries.

What to note from the above history

Games of chance have had it rough in Iraq, especially during the reign of Saddam Hussein. Hence, local bettors seem to be short of alternatives. They can either visit illegal betting establishments and risk being punished or forego betting. But as they say, there is always a way out, no matter how bad a situation is. The solution here is international betting sites. Perhaps when the war ends in the future, the government of Iraq will allow bookmakers to operate in the country legally. What about a gambling licensing body? Maybe it will be set up; no one knows.

History of betting in Iraq
Betting nowadays in Iraq

Betting nowadays in Iraq

Iraq boasts a population of more than 40 million as of 2022. At least 30 million of them have access to the internet, which renders physical betting locations almost useless. The wide spread of the internet in the country means that the citizens have access to various different sports on which they can wager. That complicates the government's efforts to ban gambling. As mentioned previously, many offshore casinos accepting players from Iraq are also a motivating factor. Of course, these bookies understand pretty well that the country does not allow betting, but citizens want to bet. Coupled with the fact that there is no law requiring them to pay tax to the Iraqi government, these bookies see Iraq as a viable ground for success.

Many Iraq nationals make use of virtual private networks (VPNs) and other internet tools to hide their IP addresses. Additionally, they have embraced the use of payment systems that allow for anonymous gambling.

Future of betting in Iraq

Iraq may be in turmoil now, but that doesn't mean the dust won't settle on the current situation. Peace or no peace, the betting industry in the country is expected to continue growing, with blockchain technology increasing in influence. Yes, cryptocurrencies may have announced their arrival in the betting market only recently, but they have already shaken the industry to its core. As cryptos such as Bitcoin and Ethereum continue to take root in gambling, more and more Iraqi citizens will join online betting. Iraqis know that with the blockchain technology of cryptos, their identities are effectively hidden, making it impossible for the authorities to arrest them and bring them to book.

Betting nowadays in Iraq
Sports betting is not exempt

Sports betting is not exempt

Sports betting, just like casino gaming, is not allowed in Iraq. The same law that prohibits casino gambling (the 1969 Penal Code) also binds sports betting, even though the activity continues to become popular in the country. As a result, finding an online betting site licensed to operate here is impossible. Finding a brick-and-mortar betting outlet in Iraq is not possible either.

As outlined in Article 389 of the Penal Code, anyone found running a gambling establishment in Iraq is subject to imprisonment of up to one year. Additionally, those responsible for the crime are required to pay 100 dinars, or less, in fines. Depending on the gravity of the crime, a culprit may need to pay both a fine and serve imprisonment or either. Whether one is organizing a gambling event or running one in a public place or private location, it is illegal.

What about the punter? Well, the betting law in Iraq doesn't just bind bookmakers online; punters are covered too. Sub-Article One of the Code outlines the punishment for Iraqi citizens who are found guilty of gambling. According to this law, punters or gamblers can either be fined 50 dinars or detained for up to a month.

Who is responsible for enforcing gambling laws in Iraq?

The country's national and local police are responsible for ensuring that the gambling laws are complied with. As reported by many gambling news sources on the internet, the Iraqi police have been actively involved in apprehending gaming lawbreakers, especially in the Sulaimani region. This region is notorious for secretly running gambling operations. Arrests and prosecutions in other parts of the country are not very pronounced. This is perhaps a motivator to punters in Iraq.

Sports betting is not exempt
Foreign sportsbooks

Foreign sportsbooks

Even though Iraq has prohibitive gambling laws and the country's police are doing all they can to prevent betting, Iraqi citizens still bet, thanks to the international offshore sportsbook operators, which target players from the country. To ensure Iraqis have the best experience, most of these betting platforms are available in the Arabic language. On top of that, they accept dinars, which is the local currency in Iraq. And there are bonuses and promotions, which pull in bettors.

Player Protection

Since betting is illegal in Iraq, Iraqis who bet at offshore sportsbooks are not legally protected in any way; there is no law to safeguard them from online fraudsters. Yes, no one should expect the existence of such a law in a country where betting is not only a crime but a sin too. Therefore, players who decide to give offshore sportsbooks a shot are left on their own. It is incumbent upon them to identify reputable sites and stick to them.

Foreign sportsbooks
Iraqi players' favorite games

Iraqi players' favorite games

Generally, Arabic nations are investing heavily in football, which is the world's number one sport. And there are quite a number of football clubs in Iraq and the Arab world as a whole. Some of the best football clubs in Iraq include Al Shorta, Zakho, Al Najaf, Al-Quwa Al-Ja, Al-Zawra'a, Al Talaba, and Naft Al-Wasat. These teams play in the Iraqi Premier League, the biggest football competition in the country. The league matches are available at most offshore sportsbooks for Iraqis. But Iraqi bettors also like betting on games in other football competitions, with the likes of the English Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, and Serie A being chief among them.

Other favorite sports for Iraqi bettors

On top of football, other popular sports for punters in Iraq include the following.

  • Volleyball: Punters have a lot of reasons to bet on Volleyball, given that it is easy to understand and there will always be matches being played on a daily basis. It also offers a wide range of markets, including Over/Under, Handicaps, Point Spread, and Moneyline.
  • Horse racing: Horse racing is one of the oldest sports, and bookies won't dare leave it out. For Iraqis, betting on horse racing is fun and exciting.
  • Tennis betting: Tennis odds are available on almost every sportsbook. In fact, very few sports have as many matches as tennis. The sport presents markets in a broad range, allowing Iraqis to place bets for which they have the best chance.
Iraqi players' favorite games
Payment methods in Iraq

Payment methods in Iraq

Sportsbook operators who want to compete favorably in the Iraqi market must provide a safe and secure betting environment that allows punters to bet without the fear of being apprehended by their government. That means money transactions must be done in a way that no one can trace the identities of bettors. Additionally, the payment methods provided by bookies should be reliable and reputable. In fact, trustworthy payment methods are one sign that an offshore casino is legitimate. That said, Iraqi bettors tend to be fond of the following payment methods.

E-wallets

Many e-wallets are available to punters in Iraqi. These include NassPay, Fastpay, Asia Hawala, Skrill, and PayPal. None of these e-wallets has a questionable reputation, and they are available at the majority of offshore sportsbooks that target the Iraqi market.

Cryptos

Cryptos are digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. To ensure money safety, they employ blockchain technology, which involves breaking down information into bits (chains) and sending it separately in coded language so that no one can decipher what the data is. With cryptocurrencies, Iraqis remain anonymous, ensuring that the police cannot trace or monitor their online betting activities.

Payment methods in Iraq
FAQ's

FAQ's

Is Online Betting Legal in Iraq?

No. Iraq is ruled by Sharia Law, which prohibits all forms of gambling, including online sports betting. Those found betting or running betting sites are subjected to punishment in the form of a fine or imprisonment.

Where Can Iraqis Bet Online?

With no betting site licensed to operate in Iraq, the citizens can bet at foreign-owned betting platforms that target the Iraqi betting market. Fortunately, there are many such sites on the web.

What Payment Methods Can Iraqi Punters Use?

Apart from e-wallets such as Skrill, PayPal, Fastpay, and NassPay, punters in Iraqi can send and receive money from their online betting accounts through Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptos. It all depends on the availability and convenience of the method.

What Sports Do Iraqis Bet On?

There are many sports for Iraqis to bet on, but football is the most popular one. Tennis and volleyball are yet other popular options.

FAQ's