Manama: Saudi authorities have arrested 16 expatriates after they were caught gambling inside a house in Makkah.

Police said that all of those arrested in the case are from Bangladesh. They said 16,000 riyals were seized in the raid conducted on Monday and that the accused had been using cards to gamble.

Reports said that the police monitored the house after receiving information that Bangladeshi expatriates were gathering there during the weekends, particularly on Thursday evenings, local news site Sabq reported on Tuesday.

The suspects were transferred to the police station in the Ajyad area before being referred to a court.

Gambling is strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

Social media users condemned the suspects and their failure to respect the special religious status of Makkah where millions of Muslims congregate every year to perform Haj — one of the five pillars of Islam — and Umrah.

“Such people have no place among us or alongside the other communities,” said one blogger, writing under the moniker Citizen. “The state should make sure that only the deserving remain in the kingdom or allowed to come and work.” In July 2013, Saudi authorities arrested 18 Bangladeshis in a coordinated swoop against illegal gambling.

The suspects, all men, were held in Makkah in eastern Saudi Arabia after they were caught red-handed in a mountain den that they used to engage in the illicit activity during the month of Ramadan.

More than 20,000 riyals were found with the suspects who are still being investigated ahead of referring them to a court, the police said.