Tough Punishments: Iran Threatens Death Sentences as Part of Online Gambling Crackdown

Author Thomas Wolf
January 11, 2021 3 min read

Online gambling operators illegally serving Iranian customers could face the ultimate punishment of death if they’re caught in the Islamic Republic’s territory, say lawmakers preparing new legislation.

Local media has been reporting on the country’s anti-online gambling crusade for the past few months. However, these latest statements are an escalation of intent from the Tehran-based regime.

Hassan Norouzi, Chair of the Judiciary and Legal Commission in Iran, reportedly said: “the bill considers tough punishments for the groups involved.”

“Insistence on committing the felony and lack of remorse will be considered by judges as ‘corruption on earth,’ which is punishable by death,”

Mr. Norouzi

Corruption on Earth

Iran’s theocratic government considers a collection of crimes as “corruption on earth.” Although considered with varying degrees of leniency depending on the scale and circumstance of each specific crime, execution is a possible sentence for all of them.

In addition to gambling, prostitution, political corruption, homosexuality, and treason are all on the list.

Gambling has been illegal in Iran since 1979. However, no specific law exists for online gambling – which authorities seemingly now want to rectify.

Just last month, Iranian police arrested ten people involved in promoting online gambling sites based in Turkey that serve Iranian customers.

Two of those people were Iranian online influencers who used their social media presence to promote Turkish gambling ops to Iranian customers. Both were supposed to be extradited back to Iran to face charges, although no official word has come of their return to their homeland just yet.

Operators and Users

Unlike most Western states with illegal gambling markets, Iranian authorities seem to have no problem going after gamblers themselves just as much as the illegal operators.

A database of 70,000 Iranian gamblers was seized by police and sent to the Judiciary Committee last month, along with 20,000 site domains and operator info.

The country has also been using the power of its Central Bank to block the accounts of suspected operators and gamblers. “Identifying gambling site operators and users is on the agenda of the Central Bank in order to prevent money transfers between them,” said Javad Aazari-Jahromi, Minister for Communications.

He boasted that the bank could now identify a site and block local payments heading its way within one hour.

Cross Government Strategy

Bringing in the Central Bank, the police, the Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department, and the Communications Ministry on this one issue shows how serious the Iranian government is about tackling illegal online gambling.

Next in the firing line will likely be Iranian television and media companies themselves. Many of these companies skirt the law by promoting fantasy sports and “prediction” games on sites that also offer traditional sports betting and online casino gambling.

Iran is not the only country to have cracked down on illegal gambling since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Although some countries have looked to relax laws or create regulated legal markets, others (like China and now Iran) have doubled down on their anti-gambling strategies.

For the latest updates on this story, plus much more from the world of online gambling, keep checking

Author Thomas Wolf


Thomas Wolf

409 articles

Thomas Wolf is our editor in chief. With an extensive background in online gambling (both working for casino operators and game studios) as well as an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, he's a proper authority on online casinos. When not running the day to day operations or reviewing new operators Thomas is a blackjack aficionado with some seriously big wins recorded at land-based casinos in both Las Vegas, Monaco and Macau.

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