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Poker in Egypt

Introduction

Population: 98,420,000

Capital: Cairo

Currency. Egyptian Pound (EGP)

Time Zone: UTC+2

Casinos with Poker

  • Domina Coral Bay Resort (Aladin Casino)
  • Conrad Hotel
  • Cairo Marriott Hotel (Omar Khayyam Casino)
  • Sinai Grand Casino

Gambling has a long history in the Northern African nation of Egypt. Yes, even in the ancient Egyptian civilization, in the age of pharaohs thousands of years ago, the people enjoyed taking part in some games of chance from time to time.

Archaeologists have discovered dice made of elephant tusks; also, they believe that old Epytians were throwing discs as a form of gambling as well. Even gambling regulation goes back multiple millennia in this country: a papyrus scroll from between 3000 BC and 4000 BC contains laws prohibiting gambling.

As for modern gaming laws in Egypt, luckily, it’s not a total prohibition – however, only foreign citizens are allowed to play in casinos. Yes, because of the influence of Islam in the country (the population is around 85-90% Muslim), the locals aren’t allowed to partake in casino games, while tourists are. Passports are checked at the casino entrances, and most establishments only accept foreign currency, such as US Dollar or Euro.

There are two exceptions for the Egyptians when it comes to games of chance: they are legally allowed to buy lottery tickets and bet on sports (they mostly bet on soccer with a sportsbook run by the Egyptian National Post Organization).

Around 30 casinos operate in Egypt exclusively for tourists. In an environment like that, occasional poker festivals that expect an influx of tourists do occur from time to time, but year-round action is scarce, especially in the tourism off-season. Also, most casinos and card rooms are located inside hotels.

These poker festivals that have been held in Egypt include the Red Sea Poker Cup, the Egypt Poker Open, and even a stop of the Russian Poker Tour in 2009.

Famous Egyptian Poker Players

Ahmed Abd El Fatah tops the Egyptian all time money list on Hendon with $341,717 in career earnings, as of the writing of this page. In May 2016, he came in 2nd in the €2,200 No Limit Hold’em event at EPT Monte Carlo and cashed for $138,011. That is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date. He lost the heads-up battle for the title to none other than the American Justin Bonomo, who even held the record for most money won in live poker tournaments for a while.

As for online poker, a player playing under the screen name “idpayday” on PokerStars and “itzpayday” on 888 from Al Buhayrah, Egypt has cashed for over $448,000 in online MTT’s.

 

– Playing Live Poker in Egypt –

   Live Poker Legislation in Egypt

As we wrote in our intro, only foreign nationals are allowed to gamble in casinos in Egypt. The piece of legislation prohibiting locals from gambling is “Law 371 of 1956”. A new law passed in 1973 allowed casinos to cater to foreign tourists visiting the country. As a result, the regulation and licencing of these casinos are controlled by the Ministry of Tourism.

 

  Live Poker Venues in Egypt

The Red Sea Poker Cup ran between 2009 and 2011 at the Domina Coral Bay Resort in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. They used to have events with buy-ins between €220 and €1,100. While the tourney series is done for, the resort’s casino (called Aladin Casino) is still in operation with a poker room running.

Their website claims that they host daily NLHE cash games and Sit&Go tournaments, and they also organize “often international tournaments with world class players”. However, there isn’t any additional information available online about these tournaments and cash games.

It’s a very similar situation with the Conrad Hotel in the capital city of Cairo – multiple third-party sources on the internet claim that they have cash tables running. However, on their website, or anywhere else, you can’t find information about the game types or stakes. The Cairo Marriott Hotel houses the Omar Khayyam Casino and its poker room – once again, all we know is that poker is played there, nothing specific about the games.

You can contact these venues above directly through their phone numbers or their email addresses if you’d like to find out more.

The Sinai Grand Casino, located Sharm el-Sheikh, however, thankfully displays all the info about their cash games on their website. They have 6 tables and 5 games – however, out of those games, only No Limit Hold’em is played against the other players, not the house. It seems the only stakes available are $5/$10, so this is not the place for small- ball players.

– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Egypt –

Domina Coral Bay Resort (Aladin Casino)

Conrad Hotel

Cairo Marriott Hotel (Omar Khayyam Casino)

Sinai Grand Casino

  Online Poker in Egypt

There isn’t any law in the Egyptian penal code that mentions online gambling. In this case, this is good news for the betting men and women of this large North African country.

That means that their government has no basis for coming after the foreign online gambling operators, let alone their players. In short, while internet gambling isn’t licenced and regulated, it isn’t illegal either in Egypt.

Thus most of the major online poker rooms – for example, PokerStars, partypoker, or Natural8 – are available for Egyptian residents without any hustle. One of the few exceptions is Unibet – unfortunately, they do restrict players from the region.


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