Is There a New Casino in Saudi Arabia?

A video featuring people playing cards has gone viral on social media, with false claims that it signifies the opening of a casino in Saudi Arabia. However, this is misleading information. The video actually showcases a card game tournament that took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where cash prizes were awarded to the winners. It’s important to note that gambling is strictly forbidden in Saudi Arabia and Islam.

The 50-second video was originally uploaded on Facebook on February 18, 2020. It has garnered over 12,000 views and has been shared nearly 390 times. The post’s Indonesian-language caption translates to English as: “#BALOOT gambling arena in Saudi Arabia. Opened and inaugurated for the first time.”

It’s worth mentioning that the video prominently features the logo of Saudi Arabian television channel Al Ekhbariya TV in the bottom right-hand corner. “Baloot” is a popular card game similar to the French game Belote, particularly among the Arabian Gulf youth, specifically Saudis.

The same video with a similar claim also appeared on Twitter, where it received over 1,500 views. However, it’s crucial to understand that the video has been shared in a misleading context. The footage actually captures a card game tournament in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where cash prizes were awarded to the winners. It is essential to emphasize that gambling is prohibited in Saudi Arabia and Islam.

By conducting a Google reverse image search and subsequent keyword search, the original video was found on the verified YouTube page of Al Ekhbariya TV, the country’s news satellite TV channel. The video, posted on February 15, 2020, is titled “Women present in the Baloot game championship.” The clip’s narrator explains that Baloot is a popular card game in the Gulf region and highlights that this championship marked the first time women participated.

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The journalist interviewing a female participant, who appears at the 30-second mark in the footage, reveals that her husband taught her how to play Baloot and allowed her to participate in the championship. She also shares that it was the first time women were able to participate.

The Baloot Championship took place from February 13 to February 20, 2020, at the Riyadh Front shopping mall, according to the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Gazette, a Saudi-based English daily, published a report on the championship on February 17, 2020, titled: “Passion grips Baloot championship as women face off men for the first time.” The report mentions the eagerness, passion, and joy that engulfed the championship as women competed against men for the first time in one of the most popular games in the Kingdom. The championship awarded prizes worth a total of over SR2 million.

Arab News, another English-language Saudi daily, also published a report on the event on February 17, 2020, titled: “Female Baloot players show off their skills at Saudi championship.” The tournament offered a total prize money of two million Saudi riyals to the winners, as stated on the official website.

It is essential to remember that gambling is strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia, as its constitution is based on the Quran. The gambling prohibition in the Quran can be read here and here.

(Note: This article has been published from a syndicated feed and has not been edited by BOOM staff, except for the headline.)

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