The recent upsurge of protests in the streets against perceived corruption within the Gambling Commission has once again highlighted the futility of elected leaders and their inability to represent the people. The Gambling Commission was established in the past as an independent administrative body that was created to oversee Jordan’s sports industry. Its mandate was to protect the interests of gamblers and encourage the development of casinos in Jordan. However, in recent times it has become an instrument used by the state to further marginalize and control the population.

More than 2100 protesters gathered against corruption in a case involving the high-rolling Amman casino. Thousands more participated in a second protest organized by the Muslim opposition in the capital city, calling for the removal of the current government as well as the resignation of the Prime Minister Ali Makhsoos. The Al Qaeda-linked Islamic Action Center in Amman hosted the largest amount of protesters. They held banners that said “the people want to end the cycle of corruption in Gambling”. Some of them were carrying placards that featured images of Ali Baba (the former king of Jordan and currently the Gambling Commission Chairman).

Recently Ali Makhsoos was quoted as saying that he had no plans of stepping down and would continue as head of the Gambling Commission until his term expires at the end of this year. He claimed that he made the decision to stay in the position despite numerous requests to step down. Naturally, there are many who believe that the allegations levelled against him are politically motivated and reflect the desire to weaken Jordan’s fragile democratic system. Many believe that the accusations are motivated by politics because Makhsoos is a member of the minority National Guard protecting the regime. In addition to this claim, many see the Gambling Commission as a big business lobbying group, attempting to encourage casinos in Jordan and build up its own sector of the economy.

A lot of locals I spoke to did not care about politics, and instead focused on their dislike for Makhsoos, and the way that the Gaming Commission was run. One resident shared that she was adamant about her dislike for Makhsoos and claimed that he used to come into her hotel room while she was playing in the casino and take money from her. Another person said that, even before he took her money, the Gaming Commission was letting her pay him in cash. These residents believe all the allegations against Makhsoos to be true however they are scared of what they could become. They therefore choose to remain silent and let the Gaming Commission do what it will.

The current situation in Jordan is proving to be extremely difficult for the people running the country’s casinos. They are under threat from members of the Al Qaeda linked Islamic Party as well as other groups believed to be backed by Osama Bin Laden. Anybody who is associated with the gambling industry in Jordan is also in danger. The tourism industry is going to suffer and as a result, the jobs and livelihoods of the residents of Jordan.

There is also some concern about the future of slot machines that are currently being operated in Jordan. Most of these casinos are managed by foreign companies including those from India and Ireland. They are operated by gambling casinos or hotels. Many of these casinos are not associated with Al-Qaeda-linked groups or the Jordan Lottery Commission.

These illegal casinos and their associates have taken control of many hotels and motels in the country’s gambling and slot machine zones. They charge patrons huge amounts of money and their operations aren’t controlled in any way. This is allowing an already illegal industry to gain control of one of the most important industries in the nation. This is causing millions of dollars to be lost in tax revenue each year to the government, private sector and the native American gaming communities.

Native American casinos make their revenue by processing visas and passports for travelers prior to their travel home. They also process visitor’s visas and passports for visitors to the country. These businesses are a major source of income from video poker and other gambling. Native American casinos are especially rich in slot and video poker gambling. This type of business is the lifeblood of many of these companies.

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