Currency: Tunisian Dinar (TND)
Time Zone: UTC+1
Casinos with Poker
- Medina Yasmine Hammamet (casino closed)
- Casino Veneziano
- Du Cedre Grande Casino
Tunisia follows the Egyptian model when it comes to gambling – yes, land casinos are legal but only for foreign patrons. You have to show your passport at the entrance and most of the games are played with foreign currency.
It’s no surprise that the locals aren’t that keen on gambling. After all, Islam is the official state religion in the country. A 2013 Pew Research Center study, which is cited by Simon’s Online Gambling Blog, found that only 2% of the population finds games of chance morally acceptable. The Islamic sacred texts strongly condemn gambling, referring to it as “maisir”.
Therefore, all of the land casinos in the country rely heavily on foreign investments. Some venues are under Italian, most are under French ownership – after all, Tunisia was under French rule until 1956. It’s the French influence carried over from the previous century that allowed the Muslim government to let casinos operate in the first place.
However, Tunisia is not a great place for poker action. Only 2 of the 4 licenced casinos reportedly have poker rooms, and it’s hardly the focus of these venues. That’s barely any information posted about poker on their websites.
Worldcasinodirectory.com, for example, only lists 1 poker table across the 3 poker rooms (one of those rooms, Casino Europe, is already closed, that info is out of date) – evidently, that’s absurd. Rather, they only have concrete information about that one table at the Grande Casino Du Cedre.
Famous Tunisian Poker Players
Currently, Imed Ben Mahmoud tops Tunisia’s all time money list on Hendon with $604,296 in career earnings. He has a gold bracelet from the 2012 WSOP Europe held in Cannes, France. He finished first in the €2,700 No Limit Hold’em – 6-Handed event for €147,099. That is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date.
The only year the Tunisian Poker Open was held, in 2009, he finished second in the €1,000 Main Event for €3,500, losing the heads-up battle for the title to Philippe Bruzzeze from Belgium.
As for online poker, the biggest winner from Tunisia is the player playing under the screen name “dontworryimfine” on Full Tilt and “dontworryimf” on PokerStars. He has amassed $272,054 in online MTT cashes during his career.
– Playing Live Poker in Tunisia –
Live Poker Legislation in Tunisia
The 1974 Tunisian Gaming and Lottery Act bans any form of gambling in the country. However, the Tunisian government had granted certain exemptions even decades before that, in 1957, a year after their independence was declared in 1956. Thus the new exemption for land casinos that can only serve foreign patrons, which was enacted in 2004, wasn’t without a legal precedent.
Despite what some other sites claim, there is no licencing and regulating body in Tunisia. However, the interpretation and enforcement of the current gambling laws are under the purview of the Ministry of Finance. You can find “commentaries” about gambling laws on the Ministry’s websites in French and Arabic. Here’s an example of a French version which talks about how certain new finance laws apply to the tax revenue collected from legal gambling companies.
The laws themselves are passed by their legislative branch, called the “the Assembly of the Representatives of the People”.
Live Poker Venues in Tunisia
The first and only Tunisia Poker Open in 2009 was held at the Grand Casino Yasmine in the city of Hammeret. They had NLHE events only on their schedule, with buy-ins ranging from €100 up to €1,000. That venue is now called Medina Yasmine Hammamet. However, unfortunately, they have closed their casino facilities.
The coastal city of Sousse is the unofficial gambling center of Tunisia. 2 out of the 4 licenced casinos of the country are located there, and the third one only recently closed.
Casino Veneziano in Sousse has a running poker room. They host 3 No Limit Hold’em tournaments a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. The buy-ins are TND100 ($36.50), TND170 ($62), and TND200 ($73), respectively.
Du Cedre Grande Casino, also in Sousse, has a poker room as well. However, it’s very hard to find any information about this casino, let alone their poker room per se – multiple 3rd party sources claim they have a poker room, while they don’t even have a website or a Facebook page.
– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Tunisia –
Du Cedre Grande Casino
Online Poker in Tunisia
As we wrote above, gambling is illegal in Tunisia with a few exemptions. Unfortunately, online poker isn’t among those exemptions.
It is impossible for any company to offer gambling on the internet in Tunisia. However, the Tunisian government doesn’t prosecute online players, nor do they block gambling sites.
Therefore, if an online poker room doesn’t restrict Tunisian players – out of the major sites, only Unibet does – Tunisian players can play some cards on the site without any reasonable fear of repercussion.