Iran cracks down on online gambling ops after clarifying laws


iran-online-gambling-crackdownIran’s authorities have ramped up their war against illegal online gambling operators after the attorney general clarified there are no loopholes in the nation’s gambling laws.

This weekend, the Iran News Agency (IRNA) quoted Chief Vahid Majid, the top cyber cop in the Law Enforcement Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran, saying his officers had disrupted nine groups running 61 online betting sites over the past two months. The illegal gambling sites reportedly handled wagers worth IRR3t (US$95.5m) before the whip came down.

The cyber cops have apparently stepped up their efforts over the past two weeks, as IRNA quoted Majid (pictured) earlier this month saying that only five illegal betting rings had been dismantled. Regardless, Majid assured the public that all the individuals involved in the illegal operations were now behind bars and their websites shut down.

Iran’s attorney general recently issued a public notice reminding individuals that the Islamic Republic didn’t tolerate any form of gambling. The official reportedly felt the need to clarify the situation after a number of individuals who’d been arrested for organizing gambling operations claimed that loopholes in Iranian law allowed them to operate so-called ‘prediction’ sites that offered cash prizes to customers who could predict the outcome of sporting events.

The attorney general clarified that gambling online is just as illegal as land-based betting, and setting up an online gambling site is the legal equivalent of opening a land-based gaming house. Anyone who assists in the designing of these sites or hosting their servers is guilty of facilitating illegal gambling activity.

The government isn’t sparing these operators’ end users. The attorney general warned that betting on sports results is illegal regardless of the medium and using one’s credit or debit card to gamble online exposes gamblers to similar ‘facilitating’ charges.

Iran’s mullahs are notoriously humorless when it comes to activities that even suggest gambling. In April, complaints by hardline clerics resulted in the shutdown of state television’s version of the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire game show for allegedly resembling forbidden ‘games of chance.’

Earlier this year, the government shut down an Iranian computer hacker forum – despite its members reportedly assisting the government’s efforts to target groups they didn’t like – because its members were reportedly running gambling sites to pad their incomes.

Iran’s neighbor Iraq, another majority Shia Muslim country, recently launched its own crackdown on illegal gambling, although most of these operations were land-based.