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Thursday, 5 April, 2001, 23:05 GMT 00:05 UK
Long-distance gambling den raided

By Middle East correspondent Frank Gardner

Police in Saudi Arabia have raided an illegal gambling den in the capital, Riyadh, that was electronically linked to a casino in Taiwan, according to the local media.


In a country where most normal forms of entertainment are banned, the temptations to break the law are many and various

It seems that Saudi Arabia's strict laws against any form of gambling have not deterred everybody.

On Thursday, Colonel Abdulrahman Al-Sayegh, of the Saudi interior ministry, was quoted in the daily Arab News as saying three Indians had been arrested this week in a raid on an illegal gambling club.

The paper quoted al-Sayegh as saying that their flat had been equipped with computers and faxes.

Bets

The newspaper said Saudi residents were able to place bets by buying digital cards costing up to nearly $3,000.

It said their cash prizes were then determined in Taipei and ran to as high as a quarter of a million dollars.


It seems that Saudi Arabia's strict laws against any form of gambling have not deterred everybody.

Gambling is illegal in all the Gulf states, since it is prohibited under Islamic law, but there are close to five million non-Saudis living in Saudi Arabia, many of whom are tempted to make some extra money by indulging in illegal activities.

The Saudi police frequently announce that they have caught a group of south Asian workers distilling and selling alcohol, which is also banned.

Saudi jails are holding many non-Saudis accused of smuggling drugs, selling pornography or working as prostitutes.

In a country where most normal forms of entertainment are banned, the temptations to break the law are many and various.

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