Authorities shut down Syria's sole casino
Syria's only gambling casino was shut down by the authorities just over three months after it opened, sources within the business said on Wednesday, dpa reported.
"It is not known whether this is a permanent closure or a temporary move to appease extremist Islamist groups who have been calling for the casino's closure for months," casino sources, told the German Press Agency dpa on condition of anonymity.
Casino Damascus, located around 30 kilometres outside the capital, was shut down on Tuesday night.
The casino's staff have not been laid off, but rather have been instructed there would be no work for them until further notice, the sources said.
Furnished with tables for roulette, black jack, poker, and other popular casino games, Casino Damascus was frequented by Syrian as well as Iraqi and Jordanian clients.
Its opening in December 2010 was seen as a step in Syria's cautious plan to transform itself into a more open-market economy, but it met with opposition from Syria's largely conservative society.
It was tSyria's first casino since the 1963 coup that brought the Baath party to power. The party, with its strong socialist roots, opposed gambling and what it saw as the influence of "Western imperialism".
The casino's closure comes after nearly a month of anti-government protests calling for reform and, in some cases, the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad.