The Dead Sea Casino Dies

Apparently, there were “secret” plans, headed by the Bakhit government, to build a Casino at the Dead Sea; a project that was supposedly funded in the millions by an unnamed “British Kurd” investor (don’t ask me why his nationality is important, you know how the Jordanian media is). Upon discovering these plans, it also seems the Dahabi government has put an end to it.

Few people know that once upon a time there was actually a casino in the Dead Sea, but then, as far as what I’ve been told, it went bankrupt.

It would be interesting to see if this project would’ve been approved by Parliament, given the feeling that Jordanians are typically more conservative today than they were in the 1960’s. It is doubtful, and I’m sure the Islamists wouldn’t be alone in the protest.

That being said. I’m not sure if casinos should be “banned” given the somewhat-liberal status quo of tourist, or western-oriented sites already available on Jordanian soil. We have clubs, bars, more clubs and yes, even more bars. So once you’ve broken that dam, I’m not sure there’s that much more to complain about when it comes to casinos; at least on a religious and/or conservative context.

I spoke to a big Iraqi investor recently and he made a point of mentioning how our tourism sector would be much better off if we had a casino in the country, as naturally, it is one of the biggest facilitators of tourism revenue, based on the global experience. He also made a point of mentioning the Iraqi experience of where the casino they have (or had perhaps) would only allow foreigners in, having a system of checking IDs to make sure that no “average” Iraqi got in. The richer ones were allowed to play under the assumption that they have the money to leave the country and gamble anyways, so there wouldn’t be a point behind barring them.

Anyways, the subject is strangely controversial for all the obvious reasons.


  • Can’t any Jordanian gamble online if he wants? there are plenty of online casinos!

    Why not opening one for real and benefit from the revenue it may generates?

  • When did this come up and why did dahbi reject it?
    when was there a casino in the dead sea and where exactly?
    I thought it was aqaba for the previous and the rumored ones!

  • I just do not think that this is going to solve our economic problems,it’s on the contrary ,it going to exasperate it.

  • Observer,,,Let me ask this question, How many Jordanian have computers let alone Internet services,in addition how many have the credit to back his/her gambling habit?>????your argument does not fly.

  • Salaam ‘Alaikum

    I’ve lived in several places in the US where there were casinos or where casinos were being pondered, and I can tell you that in that socially liberal place, people of all races, religions, and so forth fought tooth and nail against them b/c they can see how it ruined or adversely affected the economies of the places around them, because even straight slot machine casinos (the kind that old ladies like to gamble on) can bring in elements the people don’t want, and because casinos can be very taxing on the surrounding infrastructure. Las Vegas is an exception because it was a bunch of casinos in the desert that had a city grow up around it — and LV has it’s problems as well.

    A casino won’t solve Jordan’s economic woes. Gambling is legal in the US in the forms of lotteries as well as casinos, and yet the schools that these things are supposed to fund are still often chronically underfunded and need federal dollars. I would really hate to see one of these things in Jordan.

  • I don’t think you can use the “we have clubs, bars, more clubs and yes, even more bars” argument publically, they’d just petition to close them! I think it will eventually happen, not smoothly, just now is not the best time to do it.

  • Author’s Note: I am not defending this project but I wanted to point something out. I think that even the advocates of such a project are not considering it the holy grail to Jordan “economic woes”. Casinos however have proven in the past, without a doubt, that they are able to revitalize a faltering tourism economy. A few neighboring countries are examples of that.

    Secondly, many of the american casinos that were referenced earlier, which were fought by local residents, are somewhat lowbrow, so to speak. The type that’s being spoken of here is something along the lines of a five star resort, or a combination of both. For, from an investors point of view, no other variety would work.

    so take this note for the grain of salt its worth ๐Ÿ˜‰

    (ahmad: there was a dead sea casino in the 60’s that was pretty rundown. the bakhit government pushed for the one we’re talking about here and the reasons it was rejected are outlined in the article i linked to in the post)

  • alurdunialhur, and how many jordanians can/or willing to go to a real casino? it is the same! Those who likes to gamble can do it anywhere they want, even in their own homes!

  • Casinos should not be banned..Even that jordan is a Muslim country .. jordanian’s should not be allowed in.. but tourist should be .. they can be a source of income for the government.. If you guys are educated enough. You should know that it is essential for Jordan to build Casinos as it would be a reliable source of income for the government and it would also increase tourism which is a major source of income for the government .. jordan should honestly think ahead and look for a better future to solve the poverty.. WE HAVE NO NATURAL RESOURCES YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT

  • Hey all,
    Personally, I wouldn’t consider a casino to be revitalizing, in terms of Jordan’s tourism. Sure, it may pull in a few extra JD’s, But not to the extent of being an absolute solution, or anything close. I’m not really for or against having a casino in general(I don’t gamble myself, but I don’t mind it), but i definitely think now is not the time for the government to be investing in a casino. Instead, i believe they should be investing in advertising campaigns across the world (EVERYWHERE, not just arab countries), for The Dead Sea, Petra, Jerash, etc…. Also making it easy for tourists to view the country, and having better receptions and accomodations near these sites would definitely br good food for thought. After succeeding in getting large numbers of potential visitor’s to realize that Jordan exists (When asking where I am from, at least 25% of my acquaintances, believed I was joking and referring to Michael Jordan, the famous NBA player), and is worth dedicating vacation days to, then we can worry about casino’s which will help create an even larger influx of tourists. As I said, the numbers must be increased beforehand, since I highly doubt people living in the States would fly out here to gamble, when they could most likely find a casino within a 3 hour drive from their home, unless given incentives other than gambling. Alright then, this post’s getting pretty long, just wanted to share my thoughts…
    Great blog BTW, nice to see fellow Jordanians discussing these issues online

  • Im actually indifferent on whether we should open a casino or not, on one hand i think it would be useful to revitelise tourism and to provide the government with income, but on the other hand if it is going to antagonise the average citizen even more then it is probably more trouble than it is worth at the moment. However what i really disagree with is the idea that its OK to open a casino as long as Jordanian can’t access it! How humiliating is that, to have a place in our own country where being a citizen means you are barred entry but otherwise everyone else (including half the taxi drivers in town who claim to have Canadian citizenship) is welcomed!? What self respecting nation allows places of entertainment to be built for everyone but its own citizens!? And don’t tell me Egypt please! In any case I think it is unconstitutional (that is if we still have a constitution) to have such a rule because the general rule is that Jordanians have the right to travel freely within the country. So either we open the casino and act responsibly and take the good with the bad like a civilised nation or we just drop the whole subject.

  • ๐Ÿ™‚ A tough topic!
    Monaco’s economy is largly dependenant on it’s casinos that provide much of it’s national income, and a large number of Arabs ( oil Arabs) and Israelis frequent that place for gambling, I think It would be better if Jordan would be their closer destination, BUT, Casinos devastate locals and gambling is very addictive.
    I suggest that casinos should be allowed, and for Jordanain citizens to enter thema ” show money” should be required, preferably a large amount( say 5000 JDS), and I saw this example in Manila were locals had to show that they have a large amount to get in.
    We are already in the mud:), pretty soon we will have food riots and economic collapse, all ideas must be explored to save Jordan as a country ( I honestly believe that we are collapsing ( we will) as the country is deprived of any natural resources.

  • Its sad to note that most of the comments abve are not accuraqte about Casino’s. IT is rare that you have a Casino that does not have a positive economic impact on the economy. Of curse it will not solve Jordans problems, but there is no such thing as ons solution.

    There are cases were the local community are pro the casino that is in theirregion or town, many cases. What the governemnt should do is channnel the money generated from the taxes imposed on the revenues of the Casion (this is how it works) into the region the casino is located. This money can help fund projects needed for the local community, such as a hospital for example. If the money is spent in the sweimeh and shouned area, the locals would have a positive attetude towards the casino project.

    The sad part of the story is how that licsence was granted, and the indemnities that the goverments signed on.

    Farah, accepting other habits and cultures is the least that any respected human being should have as values. Some people like to go to bars and no one is pushing you to go there, so i dont understand what is botheing you!!!

    Revenues from tourism last year exceded 1.2 billion JD’s. Its the most rewarding sector in Jordan. It should be every jordaniansmission to promote tourtism and think positivly towards anything that enhances our product.

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