Online Gambling Laws in the UAE: The Main Characteristics

Updated 26 june 2020

The UAE is considered one of the richest countries in the world. It is noteworthy that this state cannot boast of monuments of ancient history. However, UAE residents managed to attract tourists and investors from all over the world thanks to the unique, modern image of the country, its impressive architectural and cultural objects.

This incredible spate is of interest to many representatives of the gaming industry. Beginning entrepreneurs often ask “What are the online gambling laws in Dubai?” Let us consider this issue with the Online Casino Market team.

The Middle East and Gambling Activities

Gambling business in the UAE

Many states in the Middle East are well known for their great wealth and high living standards. Such conditions are incredibly beneficial for the development of the gambling business. Nevertheless, Islam is the state religion (except for Israel) in almost all countries of this region,

That is why the casino business in the UAE and other states is developing very slowly.

Today, gambling is officially permitted only in the following Muslim countries of the Middle East:

  • Lebanon;
  • Egypt;
  • Tunisia;
  • Iran (horse racing only).

Lebanon is the leader on this list. Several large casinos are located there. It is noteworthy that many high-income residents of the UAE often visit Beirut to play casino games or poker.

In addition, the authorities of Egypt and Tunisia decided to soften the gambling policy. These countries, as well as the UAE, are very attractive to foreign tourists. A reasonable integration of tourism and gaming spheres brought substantial revenues to the budgets of these states.

If the governments of Dubai and other emirates use the example of Tunisia, Lebanon and Egypt, the casino business in the UAE will be able to evolve rapidly.

The Gaming Business in the UAE

What are the UAE gambling laws? UAE state laws are based on Sharia. Therefore, gambling in Dubai is prohibited. However, there are some exceptions here. For example, entrepreneurs are allowed to hold lottery draws or sweepstakes during significant sporting events taking place within the state. 

As is known, UAE authorities organise international tournaments in various sports annually, for example, Abu Dhabi Tour (cycling), Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (auto racing), Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup, etc.

Holding these competitions is an excellent possibility for gambling enthusiasts to bet on their favourite teams. Nonetheless, only large UAE betting business players can get permission for conducting gambling activities. Novices should not hope for the opportunity to get a permit from the government.

That is why many entrepreneurs and players often take part in underground gambling activities. We do not recommend you to visit illegal casinos or open underground land-based establishments.

These actions may serious consequences:

  • control by law enforcement agencies;
  • significant fines;
  • deportation (for foreign tourists);
  • imprisonment (up to 10 years).

Online Entertainments in Dubai

Online gambling in the UAE

Despite the fact that online gambling in Dubai has become the only alternative to land-based entertainments, it is considered illegal here too. Nevertheless, it is necessary to take into account several important nuances. 

The fact is that law enforcement agencies are conducting a rather tough fight with the organisers of the online UAE betting business and gamers. At the same time, their efforts are focused mainly on projects registered in the UAE.

As for foreign online resources, many players can visit them almost unhindered. Some operators risk deciding to open online casinos in the UAE. They are attracted by the following factors:

  1. Big profits. The UAE is an incredibly rich country. Locals are willing to spend large sums on games of chance.
  2. The presence of demand. Despite the limitations, many residents of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other cities are big gambling enthusiasts. They visit Lebanon, Egypt and other countries to play slot machines, poker and blackjack in real casinos, and use foreign online gaming platforms.
  3. The interest of the audience in digital technologies. Locals are interested in everything related to advanced technologies. Therefore, live games, VR and AR casinos cannot leave them indifferent.

The Prognoses of Experts

Given the popularity of eco-trends during recent years, it is safe to say that the UAE will continue to search for new ways to replenish the state treasury. Interestingly, the government did not waste time. According to official figures, oil revenue is only about 29% of GDP today. That is why Dubai authorities began the active construction of impressive architectural sites and luxury resorts.

It is no secret that tourism is the main industry of the UAE nowadays. At the same time, oil prices will continue to decline. Experts believe that the authorities will open land-based casinos and allow conducting online gambling business in Dubai and other cities to receive additional profits and maintain appropriate living standards for UAE citizens.

It is not known when the process of changing casino laws in the Arab Emirates will occur. However, analysts have already noticed several positive trends. Some factors testify to the possible legalіation of the UAE betting business:

The existence of land-based gambling

As mentioned, lotteries and sweepstakes are permitted in some cases. This fact indicates the government’s readiness for dialogue with representatives of the gambling business in Dubai

The presence of the illegal gaming market

It cannot be denied that the illegal gambling market exists in the UAE. It brings millions of dollars to operators and not a single cent to the state treasury. 

The legalisation of the gaming business could bring significant amounts to the country's budget

The continuous process of globalisation

Local culture is constantly evolving. Dubai is open to tourists from all over the world. Collaboration with other countries accelerates globalisation and mitigates gambling laws in the UAE

The democratisation of Muslim states

Some Islamic states may become role models for the UAE in terms of a successful democratisation process, for example, Lebanon. Beirut is often called an Arabic Paris due to active secular life of the city

The influence of foreign investors

The UAE is the most attractive direction for investors. It is no secret that the country's income depends on entrepreneurs from the United States and many European countries.

This peculiarity can affect the development of the gambling business in Dubai

Promotion of sporting events

Changing betting laws in the United Arab Emirates can help make the promotion of sporting events more effective. 

In particular, it will attract the attention of more sports fans and potential investors within the country

Developed hotel industry

A large number of hotels will allow gambling in Dubai to develop very fast. The fact is that many land-based establishments are often located right in hotel buildings.

Such a placement is incredibly convenient for tourists

The Main Things about Online Gambling Laws in the UAE

Online gambling laws in the UAE

Gambling laws in the UAE are characterised by the following features:

  • strict control by authorities;
  • the absence of legal online market;
  • underdeveloped land-based gambling industry.

Even though it is impossible to open online casinos in the UAE on legal grounds, many entrepreneurs continue to study online gambling laws in the UAE. The situation within the country may change dramatically in the near future. Therefore, businessmen need to be prepared for anything.

If you want to learn more about gambling laws in the UAE and to understand some nuances better, feel free to contact the Online Casino Market team. We are always ready to provide comprehensive counselling on any issues. Besides, our company offers loyal conditions for purchasing gaming software and developing turnkey projects for regular customers.

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Karen Fill


Karen Fill

Gambling business expert at Online Casino Market

Updated 26 june 2020