Gambling in the UAE – Guide for Players from the United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is one of the richest and fast-growing countries in the world! Millions (or probably billions) of people visit Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the other states of the Emirates to dive into the culture and learn more about this amazing paradise. If you’re visiting the Emirates to gamble, however, you’ll be disappointed – gambling is prohibited and there are no land-based casinos on most of the UAE territories. Of course, the legal situation may eventually change in the future. We’ll keep you posted, so check this page regularly.

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Last Updated on 12 May 2021 by Chief Editor Harrison Newton

An Overview of Gambling in the UAE

As we mentioned earlier, gambling in the United Arab Emirates in strictly forbidden for religious reasons. The country follows Islamic laws and has all the tools and possibilities to prosecute anyone caught gambling. Thus, even though citizens may have access to a number of casino sites, we wouldn’t recommend using them. People have already been arrested for online gambling and we strongly advise to restrain yourself from such activities.

As we’ve already mentioned, gambling is not a very common ‘practice’ in the UAE. There are 3 cities with gambling facilities – all 8 legal facilities in total. The largest gambling city, of course, is Dubai and includes table games, slots and video poker machines. We should also advise you that you cannot play with the official currency of the Emirates (dirhams), which is why a common way to deposit and to withdrawal is to do it in USD. Dollars are accepted in the legal gambling facilities in the UAE and this is a great opportunity for Arabic gamblers to play. Before we move on, we would like to quickly mention what’s the current legal situation in the Emirates. The law is very strict when it comes to online gambling and engaging in such activities is highly inadvisable. A big part of the online casinos are restricted by the infamous Internet Access Management Policy, established by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

Safe Online Gambling in UAE

Gambling Responsibly at UAE Casino Sites

In a nutshell, no, online gambling is not legal in the United Arab Emirates! There are a lot of restrictions and laws that don’t allow Emirians to try their luck at an online operator. A few foreign online casinos give access to players from the Emirates. As an Islamic country, gambling is prohibited because it’s considered a source of addiction. The UAE Penal Code states that whoever gambles in public or in a house prepared for gambling shall be punished by detention or 2 years of prison. There might also be a fine of 20,000 dirhams. Another article from the code says that there will be a max of 10 years imprisonment for those who open or run a place for gambling.

History of Gambling in the UAE – How It All Began

The history of online gambling in the UAE goes further back than we thought. Before physical casinos were established, Arabs had a different type of entertainment and gambling, which is kept until today. One of the traditional sports in the Emirates is camel racing. It wasn’t a big deal at first but with time racing became a big sporting event with a lot of money invested in it. Sheikh Zayed was the one who invested in this sport in 1970 and then centres racing tracks in 1990. Nowadays, except the camel racing, horse racing is also a very intense sport and a favourite of both foreigners and locals.

As for the physical casinos, there were gambling centres in certain upmarket hotels before a change of law in 1998. As mentioned earlier, there are some gambling facilities that are legally functioning in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and more, but overall the Emirates still have strict anti-gambling laws functioning. After most casinos were banned, casino cruises came out and are still one of the main attractions in the Emirates.

The 2012 gambling law decree made the situation even more complicated for the players. It made the regulations against online gambling even stricter than they were in the beginning. A lot of Internet tools were banned, citizens didn’t have access to VPNs and a total of 12 online gambling sites were blocked in 2017. Players have fewer and fewer options to enter online casinos, however, some of the remaining foreign online operators, including the ones mentioned here, give access to residents of the Emirates.

Famous Gambling Resorts – Dubai

So, about the land-based casinos. Dubai is after all a preferred destination for people from all over the world. And it would be awful if you cannot enjoy a good night in the casino, right? As we said before, there are a few states that have gambling facilities but we’re going to talk about a specific one a little bit more. Dubai – the most famous state of the Emirates, the paradise of all luxury and exclusive resorts and hotels. You know what else? Casinos!

Constellation, the Most Famous Casino in Dubai
Cruises and Casinos in Dubai, UAE, Where Celebrities Go:
  • The Constellation. This is the largest and most famous casino.
  • Costa Cruises – Fortuna. With luxury amenities and located at Port Rashid.
  • Meydan Racecourse. Gaming with exquisite attractions and accommodations.

Dubai offers 4 casinos and 19 table games (Roulette, Blackjack and Craps), plus a lot of slots and other casino games. The largest and most famous of the casinos is the Constellation from Celebrity Cruises. It’s not exactly land-based, but it sure is legit! It offers 5 table games and 100 video poker and slot machines, all that alongside with an amazing view! Talk about luxury!

Lottery in the United Arab Emirates

Even though basically all forms of gambling are prohibited in the UAE, Emirians can still participate in a lottery-like raffle. It is organised by the Dubai Duty-Free called ‘Multi-Millionaire’ and is available for all people, regardless of their nationality. Tickets are usually sold in duty-free shops in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and the big prize is $1 million. There are, however, several other draws where players can win great rewards such as luxury cars and motorcycles.

Conclusion: Online Casino in UAE for 2021

To summarise, the Emirates are very ‘reserved’ towards online gambling and currently, Emirians do not have the chance to play legally. As we mentioned, however, they do have access to a few legal land-based casinos. Apart from them, we strongly recommend you to stay away from all forms of gambling and to avoid the risk of being prosecuted. We’ll let you know if the legal situation changes in the future – hopefully, international online casinos will be able to enter the market if regulations ever change. Until then, it’s better to obey the law. Would you like to share your impressions? We’d love to hear from you in the comments down below!

Frequently Asked Questions About Gambling in the UAE

We hope that you found our guide to gambling in the United Arab Emirates useful. We have explained the legal situation to give you a complete understanding of your options. We also searched the internet to find out what is most commonly asked about the topic. You can find the answers below.

Is Online Gambling Legal in UAE?

No, online gambling is strictly prohibited in the United Arab Emirates. Operators are not permitted to provide online casino services in the country. Residents of the UAE are also not permitted to play at off-shore casino sites.

Are there Any Casinos in Dubai?

As gambling is illegal in the United Arab Emirates, you will have a difficult time finding a casino in Dubai. You will, however, find various casino cruise ships. Yet, it should be noted that when docked in Dubai, all gambling and casino activities onboard must be suspended.

What is the Best Online Casino for Real Money?

As online gambling is illegal in the UAE, there are no casino sites that are permitted to offer real money games in the country. Whilst there may be some offshore casino sites that are willing to accept players from the Emirates, we do not recommend joining them, owing to possible legal repercussions.

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