The Ocean Club in Damascus debuted on Christmas Eve and capped its first week with a New Year’s Eve party for which guests paid £300 a head, according to the U.K.’s Guardian.
The owner of the casino is Khaled Houboubati, reports website thenational.ae. His father, Tawfiq Houboubati, ran three casinos in Syria during the 1970s, including one where the Ocean Club now stands. The club is near the Damascus airport, about 15 minutes from the city center.
Absent from the casino’s exterior are flashy signs. The owner is keeping a low profile in this nation where the population is 90 percent Muslim. However, the business has already been noticed by Mohammad Habash, a well-known Islamic scholar and member of Syria’s national parliament.
“If it is true that there is a casino and gambling, then we are responsible to struggle against such activity,” Habash told thenational.ae.
Habash said that a formal query about the activities of the Ocean Club would be tabled in Parliament. Under Syrian parliamentary rules, an answer must be provided within 30 days. If gambling has taken place at the Ocean Club, Habash said he would ask that it be forcibly closed.
“We have licenses for restaurants and nightclubs, but there are no licenses for casinos or gambling,” said Habash. “So we consider this to be outside of the law.”