Sports Betting in Iran
Sport is very popular in Iran. Football is number one. We have a strong domestic league as well as many Iranians playing professionally abroad. Local matches are televised on IRIB TV3. Al Jazeera Sport broadcasts matches from top leagues around the world. We dominate the region in volleyball and Futsal competition. Basketball and handball are our other famous professional sports. There are ITF tennis tournaments, and events from other sports hosted here. Despite all this, you won’t find betting shops or bookmakers in Tehran, Isfahan, Ahvaz, Qom or any of our other cities. Sports betting is a crime nationwide as per Article 705 of the Iran Penal Code. Due to the strict law, those looking to bet often turn to the internet. It is possible to use foreign betting sites that are legal, licensed, and regulated abroad. It is still a crime to use these sites. The penalty is set at 1-6 months imprisonment, or 74 lashes. For online betting done in private, it is an either or of those two penalties, not both. Though the potential penalty is great, online betting is done in such a way that the chances of being caught are low.
How to Bet Sports Online
The overwhelming majority of foreign sports betting websites are blocked by the Internet Service Provider’s (ISP’s) content-control software. This is as required per policy of both Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI), and the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Therefore we need to use a VPN or Proxy, to get around the blocks. If you are in Iran, the fact that you’re reading this article likely means you have already worked out that aspect. If you are reading in advance of coming here, try an internet search on VPNs for Iran. It will be much easier if you get VPN accounts set up before you arrive.
VPN usage is not only a way to circumvent the blocks, but it also makes it quite difficult for the government, law enforcement, ISP, or anyone else to detect we are visiting a foreign betting website. We can also use payment methods that do not involve the traditional banking systems to further avoid detection. For this, bitcoin is the most ideal. Using a VPN to connect, and bitcoin for the banking, makes getting caught betting online unlikely. The sites below all accept Iran residents and offer bitcoin as a deposit and payment method.
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My article on Iran Online Casinos explains bitcoin in considerable detail. This is a digital currency that can be obtained many different ways. There are many internet exchanges that both buy and sell bitcoin using the service Perfect Money. All of our major cities have Perfect Money exchangers. This makes Perfect Money an ideal way to convert Iranian rial (IRR) to bitcoin (BTC), and bitcoin (BTC) to Iranian rial (IRR). This might sound complex, but it isn’t overly difficult. If you are unfamiliar with any of this, read that casino article for more details.
I should also note that for the most part we are limited to using bitcoin betting sites regardless of our preference. Global sites don’t deal in rial. E-wallets NETELLER, Skrill and EntroPay are the most used payment methods for betting in other world currencies such as dollar, pound, and euro, but these e-wallets are not available to Iran residents. Many jurisdictions that license betting sites also restrict us for legal reasons. This is fine as bitcoin is ideal. The nature of bitcoin transactions cannot easily be detected, and most bitcoin bookies accept players from all countries including ours.
The financial aspect is changing though, and several online bookmakers now accept deposits directly via Perfect Money and Webmoney. Both of these E-wallets are available in Iran, and provide new options.
Webmoney is an online payment system, similar to Paypal and NETELLER, which allows users to make online payments and transfers, including deposits to any online betting sites which accept it as a payment method. You can open an account at the Webmoney website, and transfer money to it either directly from your bank account or via local exchange points. (You can search for your nearest exchange point on the website). The balance can then be used to load up your betting account, but remember that each transaction is subject to a 0.8% charge. Winnings can be withdrawn back to your Webmoney account, where they can be used for other purchases, transferred back to your bank, or exchanged for currency at an exchange point.
Perfect Money is another method for individuals to transfer monetary value to each other outside of traditional banking systems. This starts with opening an account online. The concept is to allow users to transfer money back and forth to each other. Exchangers can be used to put money in and take money out of the Perfect Money system. The two largest exchanges of Perfect Money in Iran are nasimrayaneh.com and hiranex.com. You can find others searching Yooz.ir, or if on a VPN, Google. Do be careful of potential scams as anyone can claim to be an exchanger.
A handful of online sportsbooks now accept Perfect Money as a legitimate payment method, and you can use it directly in the same way as described with Webmoney above. If you prefer to be much more discreet, you can use either payment system to purchase bitcoins and then use them to gamble anonymously – as explained in the Iran Online Casinos article.
Betting by Sport
The betting sites we can use from Iran each have a global focus. This means it is possible to bet on most every sport and league from all around the world. For football this includes our domestic leagues. Some betting can also be done on Iran volleyball, basketball, handball, and other sports. In these final sections I cover just a small bit about the leagues and sports that are of most interest to Iran residents.
Football is the most popular sport in Iran. Our top level domestic league, Persian Gulf Pro League (لیگ برتر خلیج فارس) also known as Iran Pro League (لیگ برتر فوتبال ایران) or IPL for short, gets solid coverage by all internet bookies. There are odds on every match for: which team will win, 1X2, Asian Handicap, and total goals. Some bookies also have propositions such as correct score, goal scorer, will both teams score, total corners, and the like. The next step down Irani Azadegan League (ليگ آزادگان) commonly referred to as 1st Division can be bet online at some sites too. Back to IPL, each season 3 or 4 of our top clubs compete in AFC Champions League which is widely covered by online bookmakers.
If is of course also possible to bet leagues from anywhere else in the world. Many of the top ones are televised here by Al Jazeera Sport, and streams for others can be found online. There are Iranian players in many of these leagues. Most famous is Ashkan Dejagah. He played in German Bundesliga from 2004-2012 winning it with VfL Wolfsburg in the 2008–09 season. He then had a €2.5 million three-year deal to play in English Premier League (EPL) for Fulham, before now signing a big money 4-year deal to with Al-Arabi of the Qatar Stars League.
Two Iranians currently play for the same Russian Premier League club FK Rostov. Goalkeeper Saeid Ezatolahi signed a 4-year contract to the club before his nineteenth birthday, and debuted in the 2015 season. Sardar Azmoun, one or our country’s most prolific goal keepers, joined the club the same season. He is signed to Rubin Kazan, but joined on a loan which has been renewed for the 2016 season.
There are many others worth mentioning. Morteza Pouraliganji is the star defender for Chinese Super League team Tianjin Teda having started every game since joining their club. Alireza Jahanbakhsh is a huge star now playing with Dutch powerhouse AZ Alkmaar in in the Eredivisie. Andranik Teymourian had a great career in England but has played later in his career for local teams as well as a stint in Qatar. These are just famous examples of some of the many Iranian footballers playing professionally abroad.
Of course, our domestic league is also strong. The top import in the league is probably Luciano Pereira Mendes of Brazil. It was formerly Éder Luciano, but his success here led to him being signed in 2015 to Al-Sailiya of the Qatar Stars League. The league is of course filled with Iranians very capable of getting contracts in Europe too. Esteghlal has great local talent in Sajjad Shahbazzadeh, Jaber Ansari, and Omid Ebrahimi. Other top Iranians playing domestically include Mehdi Sharifi and Mohammad Reza Khalatbari with Sepahan; and Reza Enayati (Siah Jamegan), Masoud Hassanzadeh (Zob Ahan), Amir Arsalan Motahari (Naft Tehran) and Ramin Rezaeian (Persepolis).
The fact we have so many great footballers from our country also makes international play exciting to follow. We reached the quarterfinals in the past three installments of the Asian Cup (2007, 2011, 2015). We qualified for the 2014 World Cup and now hope to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Any matches our national team plays in can easily be wagered online.
Volleyball is a major sport in Iran. Our domestic league, the Iranian Volleyball Super League is the top league not only in our country, but is tops in the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC). Though it has a big following on its own, the season is really about 14 teams competing to determine which will go on to represent us in the more popular AVC Club Volleyball Championship. We are dominate in that having had our clubs win 10 gold medals! There is only one other country with multiple gold medal winners in South Korea who has won just two. The second most medals by country is Qatar who has 7. We have a dominate lead with 17 medals overall.
Real name سید محمد موسوی عراقی often listed in rankings and rosters as Mohammad Mousavi, is known in the volleyball world as simply Seyed. He’s the middle-blocker for the club Paykan Tehran and also plays for our national team. He is regarded by some as the best player in the game period. We have many other volleyball stars too. Saeid Marouf and Shahram Mahmoudi of the club Shahrdari Urmia deserve mention, as do many others.
Because we’re the top league in AVC, there are several global bookmakers that offer odds on Iranian Volleyball Super League. This includes sites such as Cloudbet and 10Bet. Unfortunately those sites don’t accept Iran residents, but still cover our league. That just shows how popular it is with viewers from other AVC countries tuning in. The bad news is most the bitcoin betting sites we are able to use in Iran have only limited volleyball coverage. If you shop around you can find odds, but are more likely to find them for international club competitions. Come national team competitions, it is much easier to find odds.
Iranian Basketball Super League is televised on IRIB TV3 and is widely regarded as one of the better leagues in Asia. It is however a long distance away from having the international coverage the top Asian leagues Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) receive. It still does get some coverage internationally due to import players. About half the teams have an American player on them, some who were former NBA or NBA D-league players, or at minimum NCAA college basketball standouts, or late developers. We have imports from other countries too.
Unfortunately, at this time I don’t know of any bookmakers we can actually use in Iran for betting Iranian Basketball Super League. Next season I plan to contact several bookmakers to request odds. If I manage to have success I will update this page with information on where it can bet online. For now there is still opportunities to bet many of our clubs. Many bookies have odds on both ABA Club Championship and FIBA Asia Champions Cup which our own clubs are always a threat in. Then of course there is odds widespread at many sources for all matches our national basketball team participates in.
There is also some interest in betting foreign leagues. NBA is the number one basketball league in the world. Hamed Haddadi is an Iranian that formerly played in the NBA even once getting $1.3 million USD contract for a single season. He now plays for the Sichuan Blue Whales of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). Other Iranians playing in CBA include Mahdi Kamrani, Arsalan Kazemi, and Samad Nikkhah Bahrami. There are about a dozen Iranians in NCAA college basketball, as well as others playing in Europe, especially Germany. Odds for all these leagues just mentioned, and others, are available at most every online betting website.
The majority of the opportunities to bet Iranian handball involves international competition. Our clubs Zob Ahan and Foolad Sepahan have been threats at recent installments of the Asian Club League Handball Championship. Our Men’s national handball team won our first ever Asian Championship handball medal in 2014. We can also bet Iranian handball online for Asian games, World Championship Qualifiers, and friendly matches. Our domestic Iranian Handball League has only minor coverage at foreign bookmakers.
Most seasons there are stops in Iran that are part of the ITF Tennis Pro Circuit. This is a lower level of professional tennis than ATP (men’s tennis) and WTA (women’s tennis). Whether or not it is possible to bet on the matches from these stops depends often on who is competing. www.5dimes.eu is a site Iranians can use (English language only) that is known to have some ITF coverage.
There are of course also many Iranians that compete in professional tennis. Though born in France, and a resident of Switzerland, Aravane Rezaï (ارغوان رضایی) has two Iranian parents and competed for our country 2001-2005. She is the most famous female tennis player of Persian ethnicity. She has defeated many top players on the WTA circuit, including Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Marion Bartoli, Justine Henin, and Victoria Azarenka, and once reached a career high rank of No. 15. When it comes to both WTA and ATP, odds can easily be found at every online betting site.
This article only covered the basics of the sport leagues most popularly bet from Iran. There is at least one other in Futsal. We have the 6th strongest Futsal team in the world, and have won ten editions of the Asian Futsal Championship giving us the nickname “Kings of Asian Futsal”. Online betting on this sport is however limited, so it takes some shopping around to find odds. Of course pretty much any sport can be wagered over the internet. Rugby, Hockey, baseball, Formula 1, boxing, MMA/UFC, athletics, cricket, American football, and golf, are some of the many others not mentioned in this article that odds are widely available for.