An interesting tidbit, Syria has inaugurated a new casino:

A casino opened without fanfare near the Syrian capital on Christmas Eve, in a bending of the rules in a secular country seeking to lure tourists but where gambling is banned out of respect for Islam.

“The casino was packed, the money flowed,” enthused Rami, a 55-year-old businessman more used to the renowned Casino du Liban but curious about the new establishment near Damascus international airport.

He said the casino could poach clients from neighbouring Lebanon, which attracts punters from Syria, Iraq, Jordan and the Arab countries of the oil-rich Gulf.

An interesting move to tackle Casino du Liban’s regional monopoly on high-stakes gambling. But there are a few people who believe the new casino doesn’t even make the mark:

“It is not an important economic activity. The facility is not large enough and it cannot compete with the Casino du Liban,” said an economic analyst, on condition of anonymity.

An Nahar had published some more info on the casino in December:

…the first casino authorised in Syria was inaugurated Saturday evening [December 25] in a building along the road leading to the airport (30 km south of the capital) near a luxury hotel complex built near the international airport.

[…]

Entrance to the new structure costs nine dollars (just over 6 euros) per person, with the fee inclusive of an alcoholic drink, and the aim is to attract wealthy local clients as well as those from Iraq and Jordan who for years have crowded round the green tables of Lebanon’s casino, the most famous one in the entire Middle East.

A $9 entrance fee? Isn’t that what you would tip the valet at Casino du Liban just to get your car back safely?

Syria has bent the rules in order to open a casino in the mostly Muslim country. Photo: AFP

Syria has bent the rules in order to open a casino in the mostly Muslim country. Photo: AFP