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Local laws strictly prohibit gambling in Dubai. These laws not only govern traditional forms of gambling but also address the emerging trend of combining video games with gambling, which has gained popularity in the digital age.

This article examines the comprehensive framework that regulates gambling activities in Dubai, including its legal implications, any exceptions that may exist, and the potential for a more permissive approach to iGaming in the UAE in the future.

Religious Views Dictate Gambling Laws in Dubai

Recognising that Islam is the designated religion of Dubai and the country as a whole is crucial, as stated in the Constitution of the UAE. According to Islamic teachings, gambling is strictly forbidden. This principle is the foundation for both federal and local emirate laws, which prohibit all gambling activities and the promotion of any gaming.

The legality of gambling and gambling-related advertisements is a contentious and ongoing topic in many jurisdictions. However, the majority of these concerns primarily revolve around the potential negative impact of gambling culture on children or minors, as well as the importance of safeguarding vulnerable individuals. It is worth noting that these concerns are typically driven by a desire to protect rather than being motivated by religious factors.

The regulatory framework in the UAE is simple. With few exceptions, gambling and any form of gambling-related advertising are strictly prohibited. Our perspective is that this encompasses the provision of online gambling services to UAE residents from locations outside the country.

Wagering Exceptions in Dubai

Gambling is strictly prohibited in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, it is important to note that running competitions, including raffles, is allowed under certain conditions. Prior permission from the appropriate regulatory department is required to proceed with such activities.

The UAE Civil Code allows wagers in certain situations, specifically related to racing, shooting, sports, and trials of strength. To meet the requirements, several conditions must be satisfied. These conditions include the presence of a definite prize, the identification of the individual responsible for awarding the prize, and the clear definition of the subject matter and extent of the competition.

Nevertheless, the task is not merely attempting to operate within the parameters outlined in the Civil Code. The prize payment in a betting contract is restricted to the winner, defined as the party to the agreement that achieves victory in the contest through their efforts and skill. The implication is that any arrangement that could result in the prize being awarded to a third party not participating in the race/contest, etc., would be considered beyond the permissible limits. Consequently, such an arrangement would be deemed illegal 'gambling' and subject to the criminal provisions that prohibit gambling, as outlined below.

Gambling Considerations in Dubai

When planning a visit to Dubai, whether for leisure or business purposes, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the permissible activities and the ones that are prohibited. It is worth noting that Dubai enforces strict penalties for any law violations, making it essential to be well-informed.

Horse Racing in Dubai

Horse racing and even camel racing are popular recreational activities in Dubai. However, the racecourse culture in Dubai differs significantly from that of the Western world. In contrast to race tracks in the US and Europe, which often attract many bettors placing wagers on horses, betting at the track is prohibited in Dubai, except for two specific locations—the Nad Al Sheba and Jebel Ali race courses.

It should be noted that gambling may occur at other race meets as well. Locals who are offering odds illegally at any given time can be encountered. Engaging in such activities is not recommended due to the legal implications involved.

Participating in illegal gambling can result in a maximum prison sentence of two years and a fine of 20,000Dh. Considering this perspective, it becomes evident why it is advisable to refrain from speculative betting at the racecourse.

Casinos in Dubai

Dubai does not have any casinos—not in terms of legality, at least. Exploring an illicitly operated casino is strongly discouraged for several compelling reasons. Firstly, there is a potential risk of detection, which could result in severe consequences. Furthermore, it is important to note that illegal casinos pose significant safety risks regardless of their location.

Engaging in activities within these establishments puts individuals at a heightened risk of being subjected to criminal acts such as robbery or even more severe forms of harm.

When cruise liners dock in Dubai, they are required to suspend all gambling activities. This leaves individuals with only real-money online casinos for Indian players to choose from if they wish to engage in gaming. However, it is important to note that the legal status of this option is uncertain and is not recommended.

Will Gambling be Legalised in Dubai and the UAE?

The legalisation of gambling in the UAE does not have a specific date, but it is anticipated that this will change in the coming years. In September 2023, the UAE announced the establishment of a new regulatory agency to oversee commercial gaming.

Several indicators suggest that gambling may become legalised, including Wynn's substantial investment of approximately $3 billion in a Casino Resort and MGM's 'The Island' project in the heart of Dubai.

‘The Island' Pushing for Gambling Legality in Dubai

The Island, an ambitious project, is currently being developed in Dubai. This project is significant because Dubai strictly adheres to Islamic law, which prohibits gambling and the operation of casinos.

Notwithstanding the legal limitations, 'The Island' intends to feature prominent entities such as MGM, Bellagio, and Aria, which are widely recognised for their robust casino culture.

MGM's president and CEO, Bill Hornbuckle, has officially stated that the resort project, which has a budget of $2.5 billion, is currently pending approval for a gambling licence. If approved, this project will mark the establishment of the first-ever casino in Dubai.

The major stakeholders involved with 'The Island' are closely monitoring the activities of the gaming regulatory body in the UAE as they anticipate implementing regulations.

  • Rumour: Banyan Tree—Soloviev CEO Michael Hershman made a significant announcement regarding a partnership with Banyan Tree for a casino project in New York City. This news suggests the possibility of future developments similar to the rebranding of Caesars Palace in Dubai.
  • Interested: MGM Resorts—In March 2024, MGM's CEO, Bill Hornbuckle, announced that the resort group is currently awaiting approval for a gaming licence to proceed with its plans to establish the first-ever casino venture in Dubai.
  • Confirmed: Wynn Resorts – Wynn Resorts is preparing to initiate an innovative endeavour, signifying its initial venture into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The company plans to establish a comprehensive resort, including a casino, at a cost of several billion dollars.

Posted by : GoDubai Editorial Team
Viewed 4202 times
Posted on : Thursday, May 9, 2024  
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