United States Casino Guide (StatesOnlineCasino.com)
Lebanese Gambling Information
Casino gambling is legal in Lebanon.
There is one land-based casino in Lebanon, one cruise ship casino which docks in Lebanon, and there is one pari-mutuel race track in Lebanon. With a population just over $3 million people, this might not seem like much, but this is more than you will find in most Middle East countries.
Because of its well-earned reputation for violence and strife, many westerners think of Lebanon and its capital city, Beirut, as typically austere Middle Eastern cities.
Actually, Beirut has long been considered the most cosmopolitan city in the Middle East, and certainly the best place to go in that region for dance clubs and other party atmospheres. This might seem strange in a city known for violence and terrorism, but the reasons for both are somewhat interconnected.
Lebanon is home to about a 60% Muslim population, with about 40% Christian. Of the Muslim segment of the population, there are significant Sunni, Shiite and Druze factions. Also, there are significant Catholic and Orthodox Christians in Lebanon, mainly the Maronite Christians.
This makes Lebanon one of the most culturally diverse countries in the Middle East, welcoming to tourists and foreigners, but also one with simmering hatreds and rivalries.
Below our casino and pari-mutuel section, you can read a brief synopsis of Lebanon’s transformation from the “Switzerland of the Middle East” into a nation almost destroyed by civil war and foreign invasion.
Casinos in Lebanon
Casino du Liban – (Jounieh) – Casino Du Liban has 365 gaming machines and 57 casino table games, including games of 15 Blackjack tables, 26 American roulette tables, 9 Caribbean Stud games, 7 Punto Banco tables and 7 Stud Poker tables. Casino du Liban has 7 restaurants and bars within the immediate vicinity. Call +961 9 855 888 for general information, of visit the Casino du Liban website at www.cdl.com.lb. Slots can be played from 12 noon until 5am, while table games are open from 4 pm until 4 am every day.
Jounieh is a seaside resort located some fifteen miles north of Beirut. Jounieh is known for its nightclubs and resorts. The casino is owned in joint partnership between the Lebanese government and private interests, though the government has considered getting out of its share of the casino. Casino Du Liba has a long-standing motto that the “show must go on”, in reference to the long strife in their country. One has to marvel at the Lebanese elan in the face of such dangers. The casino has been open since 1959, through all the various civil wars.
The Casino du Liban considered closing in 2006 during the latest strife, because a bomb destroyed a bridge near the casino and the “high rollers” were the first to leave the country. But it appears the casino continues to do business, which includes featuring showgirls for casino shows.
Cruise Ship Casinos in Lebanon
Orient Queen and Merhi Cruises (Beirut) – The Orient Queen is a casino cruise ship owned by Merhi Cruises out of Beirut. This cruise liner is open 24 hours per day and offers 32 gaming machines, as well as 2 Blackjack tables, 3 Roulette tables and 2 Poker tables. There is also a 300 seat bingo parlor on the Orient Queen. The ship also has a bar and two restaurants. Call +961 1 969 999 to contact Merhi Cruises about the Orient Queen.
Horse Tracks in Lebanon
Hippodrome Du Parc De Beyrouth (Beirut) – Note that Beyrouth is the French name for Beirut. Hippodrome du Parc de Beyrouth is the only racetrack in Lebanon. The hippodrome is found in Beirut City along the Abdallah Al-Yafi Avenue. To call the Beiruth Hippodrome Park, call +961 6 325 15 or visit the website at www.beiruthhorseracing.com.
Colonial History of Lebanon
Because of the large Catholic population in Lebanon, France had long been interested in that area of the world. The French state had been a champion of Christian Lebanese in the days of Ottoman Turk rule over Syria-Lebanon.
After World War I, France was given a mandate by the League of Nations to rule over Syria and Lebanon, which France tried to meld into one state. The French favored the Christian minority when attempting to rule the region, which led to a Christian establishment of power that would outlast colonial times.
After French troops left Lebanon in the 1946, Lebanon was made an independent state. A compromise dictated that a Christian would be president and a Muslim would be prime minister. Lebanon became a center for Middle Eastern banking and finance. Despite occasional tensions, the Lebanese had a generally prosperous time of it from the 1940’s to the 1960’s.
The Lebanese Civil War
In the late sixties after Israeli successes in the Six Day War, Yasser Arafat and his P.L.O. fled Palestine and removed to the Kingdom of Jordan. The armed Palestinians gained control of several key Jordanian areas, enough so that Arafat was said to run a state within a state.
After the Palestinians failed in overthrowing the King of Jordan in 1970, Arafat and his people moved their operations into Southern Lebanon. This led to a growing state of turmoil in Lebanon, one agitated by tensions among the P.L.O. and the Christian Lebanese.
PLO gunmen killed four people outside of a Christian church in 1975, leading to widespread reprisals by the Christian Phalange militias. These events touched off a 15-year civil war that turned Lebanon from the “Switzerland of the Middle East” in a devestated war-torn nation. The war would pit various factions of Christians versus Muslims, while eventually drawing in forces from both Syria and Israel.
The Lebanese Civil War was maddeningly complex, as Christian factions sometimes battled Christian factions and Muslims sometimes battled Muslims. In the 1980’s, internetional peacekeeping forces were sent in, led by French and American troops. Both the French and Americans would have their soldiers targetted by suicide bombers, with the Americans losing over 250 men in one attack on a Marine compound.
The Syrians gained control over the Bakaa Valley, as well as a significant influence over the Lebanese parliamentary process. Iran funded by the Lebanese Hamas rebels, a Shiite militia responsible for many of the attacks on Western foreigners. The Israeli Defense Force invaded southern Lebanon in 1982, to route P.L.O. outposts in that area and to punish Hamas rebels.
Though the Israelis believed the Christian Lebanese were natural allies, the Christians in Lebanon were also alienated by this invasion. Peace came in 1990, but the disputes of Lebanon have never been fully settled. Syria and Iran maintain significant influence in the country, while HAMAS has become a mainstay. Israeli eventually removed all troops from Lebanon unilaterally, but once again invaded in an ill-conceived invasion of Southern Lebanon in 2006.
This invasion did force the Lebanese Army to occupy portions of Southern Lebanon for the first time since the civil war broke out three decades earlier, to assure these areas did not remain terrorist breeding grounds.
It is unknown what will come of Lebanon in the wake of these thirty years of violence. At the beginning of the 2006 conflict, Lebanon could claim to have repaired much of the damage done in the long civil war. The Lebanese likely will rebuild once more, but it may be a matter of when and not if a new conflict awaits Lebanon.