Online Gaming Crimes May Become Eligible for Death Penalty in Iran


Posted on: January 3, 2021, 11:15h. 

Last updated on: January 4, 2021, 01:26h.

And you thought the Wire Act was harsh.

Iran gambling
Iranian exiles in Brussels fashion a noose during a protest against government officials in their former homeland, an Islamic state. (Image: Reuters)

A lawmaker in Iran announced last week that the Islamic Republic’s legislature has drafted a bill that would levy the death penalty against those found guilty of administering a gambling website. That’s according to the website Iran Human Rights Monitor.

The news comes after the country’s cyber police arrested 10 Iranians on online gambling charges.

If the activities of gamblers and those participating in cyber bets are done by groups and gangs, and if repeated, they will be arrested” said Hassan Norouzi, the vice chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Judiciary and Legal Commission. “Insistence on committing the felony and lack of remorse will be considered by judges as corruption on Earth which is punishable by death.”

The idea that Iran would consider capital punishment for a crime like running a gambling website probably shouldn’t be all that shocking. According to Amnesty International, while the number of executions dropped from 977 in 2015 to 253 in 2018, the punishment was used in sentencing for a variety of crimes. In 2018, that included 18 for “enmity,” or hostility, against God; six for political activities; and 14 for “spreading corruption on Earth.”

The non-governmental peace organization also noted two women allegedly received death sentences for adultery. However, it could not confirm the reports.

In 2019, Amnesty reported at least 251 executions. In every year since at least 2005, only China has had more confirmed executions each year.

Report: Iranians Gamble Because of Poor Economy

According to the Iran Human Rights Bulletin, the country established a task force within a criminal court’s “special cyberspace center” that focused on blocking gambling sites. It’s alleged the court blocked 120 such sites over a 10-day span in 2019.

One Iranian official noted the task force could block any site identified as a gambling site within 10 minutes of that finding.

An Iranian news agency also reported that the crackdown led to the identification of approximately 75,000 users of those sites. Prosecutors received those user IDs for additional investigations.

More Iranians are resorting to online gambling because of the government’s poor management of the economy. That’s according to IranFocus.com, an independent non-profit news agency,

“In other words, the people, whose meager incomes have dried up due to poverty and unemployment, see gambling as an instrument to feed their families,” wrote Jubin Katiraie.

Not All Gambling Banned

The Quran, the holy book of Islam, considers gambling and games of chance as the work of Satan. As such, those who gamble commit a grave sin.

However, it appears that Iran’s views on gambling don’t differ much from some states in the US.

While leaders do more than frown upon gambling, they allow horse racing in the country. Reports from as recently as 2017 claim Iran authorizes that because money from gamblers pay those involved in the sport.

An Iranian cleric told Reuters in 2011 Islam forbids gambling, but grants exceptions for horse racing, camel racing, and archery. The prophet Mohammad considered those activities as masculine. However, only the athletes or individuals they authorize can place bets.