New Report: The Islamic world and gambling

Article by Rob van der Gaast

„They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say, ‚In them is great sin and some benefit for men; but the sin is greater than the benefit.“
(Qur’an 2:19)

„O believers! Intoxicants and gambling, worshipping stones and divination by arrows are impure, of shaytan’s handiwork: refrain from such abomination that ye may prosper.“
(Qur’an 5:90)


Islam prohibits gambling. Gambling in a way is connected to competitions and awards. For the sake of this article, so writes Paul Wouters, lawyer in Istanbul and the authoritative Islamic banking specialist, I would appreciate you to follow my lead in the reasoning.

Please be aware that amongst the different schools of legal thought, there can be specific nuances. Islamic jurists so far have not given a direct and clear definition of gambling. Gambling is considered to be a game that allows the winner to take the bet from other competitors who lost and therefore it has 4 legs:

(1) the origin of the prizes comes from the contributions (money, goods …) of the participants
(2) that will be – wholly or partly – given as an award in some competition between the participants
(3) to the winning participants
(4) and where the losers forfeit their contributions

According to Prof. Dr. Ismail Hakki Ünal of the Ankara University Faculty of Divinity, “Gambling – in Turkish ‘kumar’ – is prohibited in Islam. The main argumentation of gambling and other games like this is Quranic verses 2 (Bakara)/219 and 5 (Maide)/9091.” For many Muslim countries however, gambling is legal, within the law. That accounts also for the Milli Piyango, the Turkish National Lottery, which will be privatized soon.

In Turkey there are 99.8% Muslims (mostly Sunni), and other religions are 0.2%, mostly Christians and Jews. Turkey has a moderate version of the Islam, a kind of Universal Islam. Muslims do not decide on what is haram (allowed or forbidden) on the basis of what happens in Muslim countries. To decide right or wrong comes directly from the Holy Koran and the Sunnah.

In total there are 10 countries, where the Islam is dominating, and where gambling is a legal activity.

The report shows the local markets, products, prizes, legislation, the future of those markets, the pressure of the religion, etc.

The report shows unique information on how the Islam sees the gambling industry and how the markets in Islamic countries are managing their gambling products.