Betting in Cairo

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Published: 02/04/2013

Owing to its strategic location near the Nile Delta, Cairo has long been the most important city in Egypt. Founded in 969 AD, close to the ancient cities of Memphis, Giza and Fustat, it was soon nicknamed “the city of a thousand minarets” for its Islamic architecture and became a centre of political and cultural life. Today with an urban population of 6.76 million and nearly four million more residents in the surrounding area, the Egyptian capital can claim to be the largest city in the Arab world and Africa and the number one economy in the Middle East according to the Global Cities Index.

Another aspect of Cairo that makes it stand out among Middle Eastern cities is its liberal attitude toward gambling—a tolerance for games of chance that’s exceedingly rare in countries where Islam is a major force. Indeed, there are more casinos located within the city’s precincts than exist in Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, the UAE and all of the region’s Arab countries combined.

Many of Cairo’s casinos are located within first-class hotels. Examples include the Iberotel Cairo Hotel & Casino on Cairo International Airport Road, the Sofitel Cairo Maadi Towers & Casino open 24/7 and the King & Queens Casino within the 582-room Sheraton Heliopolis Hotel. Facing the magnificent River Nile, the luxurious Conrad Cairo Casino & Hotel has become a landmark of the city’s bustling downtown, featuring 30 gaming machines and 11 table games with action 24 hours a day.

Similarly, the 5-star Semiramis InterContinental Hotel has been offering views of the Nile and round-the-clock gaming under the auspices of Casinos Austria International since 1990. With 34 gaming machines and 14 table games, including Roulette, American Roulette, Blackjack and Punto Banco, the property also features 713 guestrooms, a 26-square-metre rooftop pool and fine dining from Lebanese to Thai at ten restaurants.

Some of Cairo’s newer casinos have been built on Gezira Island, right in the middle of the River Nile, where the landmark Cairo Tower stands. Among them is the Casino El Gezirah Barriere inside the 436-room Sofitel El Gezirah. It is open 24/7 with 35 gaming machines, 14 table games, six restaurants and two bars. Another is the Omar Khayyam Casino inside the 1,365-room Cairo Marriott Hotel. It, too, is open 24 hours daily, offering 40 gaming machines and 20 table games, including Baccarat. There are also eight restaurants and four bars on the premises.

Two of the most popular casinos in the area have been managed for more than a decade by Caesars Entertainment and its London Clubs International division. The London Club Cairo offers a 2,700-square-foot gaming space inside the 790-room Ramses Hilton Hotel on the banks of the Nile. Open for action 24/7, the casino contains 34 gaming machines and 23 table games, including Poker as well as American Roulette, Blackjack and Punto Banco.

Meanwhile, Caesars Cairo is located in the Cairo-Giza district near the famous pyramids and attached to the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo with its 269 luxury suites. The 5,500-square-foot gaming space is open daily 24 hours, featuring 30 gaming machines and 30 table games. There is also an elegant private room for VIP customers who prefer a more discreet and luxurious gaming environment.

Although many of Cairo’s casinos have foreign-sounding names, like the Cedars Casino on Corniche El Nil or the French-inspired Les Ambassadeurs Casino inside the Pyramisa Cairo Hotel on Giza Street, a great many more are strictly local. Examples include the Cleopatra Casino on El Gabalaya Street and such strictly arabesque venues as Al Andalous Casino, Al Karnak Casino, Felfala Casino, El Sayeda Zeinab Casino, Koshtomor Casino and Casino el Gaheed.

Visitors should be aware that most of the casinos in Cairo that are open 24/7 have different hours during the Islamic period of daylight fasting known as Ramadan. Even though Muslims are forbidden by their religion from gambling, the casinos will typically open at 8pm after the sun goes down and close at 6am before it reappears out of respect for Islamic traditions.

Published on: 02/04/2013

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