US Embassy warns staff away from Beirut casino

  • Staff warned not to visit Casino du Liban
  • Warning follows unspecified threats of violence

Staff at the US Embassy in Lebanon have been warned to stay away from the Casino du Liban in Beirut, following unspecified threats.

Casino du Liban
Casino du Liban

The Embassy issued a statement on Thursday confirming that it has banned US government personnel from visiting the casino which is Lebanon’s only licensed gambling site.

The statement did not give specific details on the threats that led to the ban, although the US State Department has long standing advice warning US citizens against travelling to the country due to the threats posed by terrorism, kidnapping and other acts of violence.

Two years ago, in January 2015, Lebanese security forces prevented a planned act of terrorism at the land-based casino that had been due to take place on New Year’s Eve 2014. That plot involved terrorists with links to the Al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front planning to detonate a vehicle bomb in front of the casino’s entrance.

Routine measure

In response to the US Embassy announcement, the Casino du Liban’s new CEO Ronald Khoury gave a statement on Thursday which said the Embassy’s warning was a routine measure not exclusively directed at the Casino du Liban, but revealed that the casino had, as a precaution, taken steps to prevent cars from coming onto the casino site.

Although the security situation is unlikely to change in the near future, US diplomats and other US ex-pats currently living in Lebanon who wish to patronize the Casino du Liban might eventually have the option of betting digitally.

The casino is currently attempting to gain permission to open an online gambling site. In January, they launched a public tender to find a suitable online gambling technology partner capable of handling both casino games and sports betting, although to date it appears that little further progress has been made towards taking the casino online.

Since taking over at the Casino du Liban, Khouri has made a number of efforts to modernize the facilities, including banning loan sharks, improving the range of gaming options and expanding the site’s entertainment facilities, and in an interview last week, said that he remained committed to launching the casino’s internet site.

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