Saturday July 20,2013 : LEBANON BLOCKS ONLINE GAMBLING
Telecommunications minister confirms judicially-imposed ISP block favouring local monopoly
The gambling monopoly awarded to Lebanese land Casino du Liban in 1995 is being supported with an ISP block on access to online betting operators, according to an article in the publication Global Voices Online.
The report says that the first indication of such a blockade surfaced in the local Blog Baladi last month, which claimed that the block had been quietly authorised by the country's Justice Minister.
Subsequent Twitter posts seeking confirmation on the ban evoked a response from Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui, in which he claimed that the ban had been imposed by a judge in support of Decree 6919 of 1995, which gave a monopoly on all Lebanese gambling to the Casino du Liban in Beirut, justifying the decision on grounds of "protection of public morals."
Sehnaoui noted that whilst he did not necessarily agree with the ban, it had been lawfully imposed by a high ranking judge. The minister said he had discussed the issue with the judge, but that he had been unable to persuade him to change the order.
Local observers and Twitter fans have opined that the ban on internet gambling is questionable because Decree 6919 applies to a land casino operation within the borders of Lebanon, and that interfering with the internet could set a precedent for further internet manipulation and censorship.
One poster wrote: "…now it's Poker, next it's Adult content, then Blogs, then…"
Another commented that the issue illustrated just how disconnected from reality this sort of decision can be, with one poster commenting: "It's funny hearing about things getting blocked on the internet as if it’s possible or sustainable – hello VPN."
The original 20 June Blog Baladi post at http://blogbaladi.com/gambling-sites-being-blocked-in-lebanon/ also mentions an online gambling site that apparently was not initially impacted by the block.
The blog reports that as at June 16 only one site was [still] officially functioning – Starsofholdem.
Owned by a Lebanese, hosted in Costa Rica and operated by Stars of Holdem Group in London, the online gambling venue support staff assured the blog that the online restriction in Lebanon will not affect their operations because they pay taxes to the Lebanese government.
There has been no confirmation of this statement, and subsequent posts suggested that starsofholdem was also inaccessible.
Top companies on the banned list appear to include:
Full Tilt Poker