For almost two months now, the situation in Jordan over the Gambling Commission decision has been very volatile. Many local residents have lost their jobs, while others have lost contact with loved ones, family, and friends. There is a serious concern that innocent Gambling sites will be targeted by opposition groups who wish to shut them down, as these are seen as an unacceptable violation of their hard-won freedom of association. However, even though this current flare-up in the Kingdom of Jordan may seem worrying, it does have a silver lining: Gambling has long been a symbol of Jordan’s vibrant, modern culture and way of life.
In 2021, the Kingdom of Jordan became the first Middle Eastern country to open its doors to online gaming, paving the way for people from around the world to take part in this global phenomenon. At the same time, this small Middle Eastern country was recognized as a first world country for its open practice of free speech and liberal political practices. The recent Gambling Commission decision is yet another example of how a small country can make a big difference when it comes to preserving its heritage and traditions, while at the same time establishing a sound economic foundation. What the recent developments can mean for the future of Jordan and the entire region cannot be predicted, but gambling in Jordan has always been one of the most protected activities in the country.
Gambling has been illegal in Jordan since 2021, but this rule was frequently flouted, especially during the peak tourist season. The main industries supporting the economy were tourism and insurance, both of which benefited greatly from the opening of new casinos all over the city. The influx of international tourists to the country made it even easier for authorities to implement harsh measures against Gambling. However, the measures seemed to take forever, as no matter what they did, the number of visitors to the casinos kept increasing. The situation reached a tipping point in June when the government notified the closure of all casinos, and later followed this with the announcement that all gaming licenses would be suspended.
For anyone who was closely following the development, the timing of these developments was not a surprise. The closure of the number of casinos was viewed by many as an opportunity to rejuvenate the country’s image, which had been severely damaged by the global financial crisis. The main article that prompted this move was the decision by the ministers of the emirate to nationalize all commercial activities in the country. They had hoped that doing so would attract tourists and investors to relocate to the new centers, creating jobs in the process. In effect, the move was perceived as a chance to rejuvenate the country’s economy and to strengthen its position in the global market.
Although the move may have brought about some temporary employment opportunities, the long-term impact on the country’s economy will be felt in the form of increased taxation, unemployment, and corruption. Tourism is one of the sectors hit by the closure of casinos. The main casino in Macau, which is the Caixa Marina, and the Moorish Barracks were removed from operation temporarily as planned, while investigations were carried out into the management of the casinos. The main slot machines in the Macau casinos have already stopped working, and all other slot machines in the area are expected to stop working within the coming days.
In the face of the above developments, European governments and international agencies are trying to encourage Macau to retain its competitive edge over neighboring casino gambling resorts. In the face of heavy competition, Macau is trying to build up its reputation as a less harmful destination for tourists, even if it is unable to retain its leading position in the gambling world. In the face of such circumstances, the US government, which had earlier announced that it was considering offering tax incentives to U.S. citizens who shift their money to Macau, may now try to encourage the Portuguese territory to embrace more liberal gambling laws. There are reports that Las Vegas is now considering opening a casino of its own in Macau. Whether or not this idea will come to fruition remains to be seen, but if the possibility does exist, the European Commission should be urged to step in and prevent the move by Macau.