Overview of Gambling Regulations in Dubai

Dubai is an online gambling jurisdiction with heavy restrictions, where both land-based and online gambling are completely banned.
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The Emirate of Dubai is one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and at the same time the most populous one. Its capital is Dubai, home to Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and the city which has the second most five-star hotels in the world.

When it comes to gambling, this activity is strictly prohibited, due to stringent Islamic laws. People discovered to gamble either in a land-based or online format are penalized- they end up in prison and are obliged to pay a fine.

What’s even more, cruise ships docking at the shores of Dubai, have to stop all gambling activities at once and resume them when they are out of Emirati waters. Horse racing seems to be the only form excepted from this rule, but with certain limitations.

It’s important to clarify that the situation is the same across the entire United Arab Emirates, which is why the entire region is classified as a gambling zone with heavy restrictions. On the other hand, from time to time rumors appear that a couple of hospitality venues had been granted gambling licenses, which may be a hint that this area is becoming more open to this form of entertainment.

Gambling Regulations

Federal Law No (3) of 1987 is a document that involves a couple of rules related to gambling. Those are defined in Chapter VI, under articles 413, 414, 415, and 416.

As mentioned in the introductory part, gambling is strictly prohibited, and a person caught in such activities will be punished as follows:

Article (414)

Whoever gambles shall be punished by detention for a maximum period of two years or by a fine not exceeding twenty thousand Dirhams. A penalty of detention or a fine shall be inflicted if the crime occurs in a public place, a place open to the public, or in a place or house prepared for gambling.”

Penalties are even more severe for people who organize gambling-related activities:

Article (415)

Punishment by imprisonment for a maximum period of ten years shall be inflicted upon anyone who opens or runs a place for gambling and prepares such a place for the admission of people, as well as anyone who organizes any game of gambling in a public place or in any place or house prepared for such a purpose”

In both cases, tools and money used for gambling purposes will be confiscated, as explained in the following article:

Article (416)

In all cases, cash money and tools used in gambling shall be seized, and an order shall be issued to confiscate them and close the gambling place. Such place shall not be licensed to reopen unless it is prepared for a legal purpose, and after approval of the public prosecution.”

Worth noting is that, according to Article 418 of the same Law, a person who spends huge amounts in gambling and causes a tradesman’s bankruptcy is declared bankrupt himself. In addition to this, one shall be punished by detention for a maximum period of two years or by a fine not exceeding twenty thousand Dirhams.

Player Protection

Having in mind that there are no legal land-based and online casinos, there’s no need to talk about specific protection measures. While a growing number of online casinos does offer all kinds of useful tools a player can use to manage his/ her gambling habits, they are of little use to players from Dubai.

How so?

In most cases, casinos list Dubai and this entire region among restricted countries. This means that players from this corner of the world cannot register, play games and claim bonuses in an online casino regardless of the jurisdiction which licensed it.

So, when talking about player protection, we can say that the only measure in place is a blanket ban on gambling activities and severe penalties for people caught in these activities. If people aren’t permitted to gamble in any form, they cannot end up dealing with gambling-caused issues- quite logical.

It’s important to note that residents can be punished for even viewing gambling sites or trying to access the blocked content via tools such as VPN. All this is to say that gambling restrictions are taken very seriously in this part of the world.

Though these rules and laws mostly refer to locals, tourists aren’t excepted from punishments either. There’s one rule which doesn’t encompass gambling explicitly, but it’s in relation to felonies and misdemeanors:

Article (121)

If a foreigner has been sentenced to a custodial penalty in a felony or misdemeanor, the court may call in its judgment for the deportation of the convicted foreigner from the state.”

How Bright is the Future of Online Gambling in Dubai?

As hinted in the introductory part, there are occasional speculations that this Islamic region could ease its rules on gambling and consider the possibility to legalize it. Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), one of the lesser-known emirates is allegedly planning to regulate gaming in some resorts.

As far as indicated, Las Vegas casino giant Wynn Resorts has plans to construct the resort on the artificial Al-Marjan Island, with a 1,000-room hotel, a mall, and a convention center. The complex is set to open in 2026.

When it comes to online gambling, there is no confirmation as of yet that Dubai or any other emirate will legalize it. However, having in mind that the trends are constantly changing, and the development of new technologies has a significant impact on every single sphere of our lives, there’s always room for some changes.

Until then, players are left on their own. Though it’s against the law, some people still exercise gambling on the Internet by accessing such platforms with masked IP addresses. While we cannot prevent them from doing so, we can at least give them a bit of friendly advice on which sites to choose, and which ones to avoid. License, fair and transparent Terms as well as professional customer support and tools for responsible gambling are some of the many important elements players should pay attention to when making up their minds between casinos.

Play responsibly!

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