These are difficult times in Lebanon. Still, the country has seen much political and military upheaval over the years, and its capital city, Beirut, retains a reputation as a liberal and fun place, as suggested by its long-time nickname, the "Paris of the North." For gamblers, it offers a haven of opportunity in an area not well endowed with gaming facilities. Indeed, Lebanon's only mainland casino, the largest in all the Middle East, continues to attract gamblers despite the troubles.
The Casino du Liban (Lebanon Casino) is located in a Christian area about 14 miles north of Beirut, called Jounieh, and it has been an institution in that city since 1959. It has a turbulent history, trading throughout most of the civil war, though it ceased operations in 1989 for seven years. It reopened in 1996 after a $50 million dollar refurbishment. The largest and one of the grandest casinos in the entire Middle East, it boasts an amazing 300,000 square feet of gaming and entertainment.
In normal times, it offers gamblers 400 slot machines and an astonishing 57 gaming tables, in three rooms, the International, the Mediterranean, and the Cercle D'or. These offer American Roulette on 26 tables, Blackjack on 15 tables, Caribbean Stud Poker on 9 tables, and Punto Banco and Stud Poker on 7 tables. There are six restaurants for when the gambling gets too much - three serving French cuisine, evoking Lebanon's historical links with France, two international restaurants, and one, La Terrasse, serving local food. The opening hours are normally 8 pm to 4 am, seven days a week.
The recent emergency in Lebanon meant alterations to the Lebanon casino, but it did not close. The opening hours were curtailed to 1 am, and only one of the three gaming rooms was open. The private gaming rooms were unused as the wealthiest gamblers left the city and country. Yet, with the easing of tensions recently, the casino is returning to normal, and once again is offering the best in gambling and entertainment facilities.
In peaceful times, there is one other Lebanon casino, though it is not located on the land. The Abou Merhi Cruise ship, the Orient Queen, is normally located in Beirut (from where it begins and finishes cruises). On board, it offers 32 slot machines and five gaming tables, as well as the other facilities you would expect from a modern cruise liner. The games played are Blackjack, Poker, and Roulette.
President Obama should in fact legalize online gambling for numerous reasons. The first and most important one is that by prohibiting it, Americans who have the means to still gamble amidst the prohibition are doing so by using illegal internet casinos, some of which are used by Al Qaeda to launder money, and foment terrorism growth and operations. The other major reason is that the economy will benefit as billions in taxes will be generated from this regulation, not to mention thousands of jobs. The economy is in its worse shape this generation has seen on a global basis. The credit crisis has hit so hard, that even former FED chair Alan Greenspan has come out to say he was wrong about certain maneuvers that were taken place during his latest term as FED chair. Major corporations are cutting jobs, others have gone bankrupt, countries such as Argentina and other second world countries have called for help to the International Monetary Fund. Goldman Sachs, the premier investment banking firm in the world has declared it will cut its workforce. And lastly, chartists and speculators claim the DOW might fall below 5,000 over the course of the 09-10 leaving all value behind.
To put it simply, the world is REALLY becoming a difficult place to live as companies and governments struggle to make ends meet all across the board. As far as the online gambling industry is concerned, it was legal for its citizens to play and it was also legal to advertise online. This until 2004, when a bill called the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Act) was passed by Congress, therefore making the whole industry illegal. After this took place, many major corporations went broke, and a lot lost a high percentage of income as US citizens were simply not allowed to play and gamble online. Numerous politicians argued the case as the industry would indeed earn billions for the government if properly regulated the industry, but the bills that were recently put into motion such as the one from Barney Frank (HR 5767) fell just short of acceptance.
Some Americans who actually have the means to open foreign accounts and who actually really do want to gamble do so anyway in today’s world as the ban is not properly put into place, and the worst part of this issue is that the government could be making billions if they properly looked at the industry, and regulated it and taxed it instead of negligently banning it. This of course is the main issue as to why President Obama would indeed legalize the industry given the fact that the economy has been hit in a sharp manner in his country, and legal entities struggle to survive. In fact, Mr. Obama is in favor of this industry being legalized as he has voted IN FAVOR to government regulation in recent industry related bills.
His favorable view along with an economic recession leading into depression might indeed make for a perfect storm leading the government into regulation and the cessation of the UIGEA ban not to mention a stop of funding terrorism bt Americans using illegal terrorist owned casinos. This point alone combined with the fact that the European Commission has recently formally complained to the World Trade Organization regarding the fact that the USA is acting in an illegal manner by banning foreign companies to trade in their soil (the agreement binds the USA to let this industry and others into action in the US market) are two major points that the new US government will have in favor to lift the ban.