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UAE Online Casinos

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates, often known simply as “the Emirates” or the UAE, is a small country on the Arabian Peninsula. The country has a population of more than 9 million people, but that number is just a bit misleading: more than 80% of that amount is made up of expatriates, with just 1.4 million citizens living in the nation. The name comes from the fact that the nation is actually a federation of seven emirates each of which is governed by an Emir as part of a constitutional monarchy; chances are you’ve heard of at least two, including Abu Dhabi (the capital) and Dubai.

The UAE is also a deeply Islamic nation, and that has consequences for its gambling industry. As with many such countries, all betting is forbidden, making it difficult to find a brick-and-mortar location to play poker, place a bet on a sporting event, or take your chances on casino games. But while the ruling government might not like it, online gaming still flourishes, with many foreign companies allowing players in the country to join their sites.

Top Real Money Gaming Sites in United Arab Emirates 2020

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Online Gambling in the UAE

Given that the betting in the UAE is forbidden, it is predictable that they also take a hard line against online gambling. In fact, the government has taken steps in recent years in order to strengthen the laws against online gambling in the UAE. In 2012, President Sheikh Khalifa issued a decree that strengthened a number of laws against various cybercrimes, including the transmission of pornography and online gambling.

Clearly, this suggests that you aren’t supposed to legally be able to visit online gaming sites in the country. However, the agencies that are meant to block such websites have done a pretty poor job of this, and that means there are many online casinos in the UAE that take our residents.

You can probably understand why some companies would still decide not to venture into this market, given the fact that the government has made it pretty clear where they stand on the issue. But there are numerous reputable companies who accept UAE gamers to play a variety of slots, table games, and other options for real money. Some of the software providers you’ll see active here include:

  • Microgaming
  • NetEnt
  • Betsoft
  • SoftSwiss
  • Play’n GO

There are a vast number of casinos that accept players in the Emirates. Our favourites are listed below.

Despite Racing Interest, No Betting Allowed

Gambling has never been a legal activity in the UAE, and the laws governing this prohibition are very strict. Not only can those running illegal establishments be subjected to long prison sentences or heavy fines (as well as a shutdown of their establishment, even for other legal activities that may have been on going there), but smaller punishments can also be doled out to gamblers themselves. Even ships and airplanes that have legal gaming aboard must stop the games before they enter the nation.

This is in line with the policies of many other Muslim nations. In most interpretations, Islam forbids gambling. This does not mean that all Muslims refrain from the activity at all times, nor that all governments with an Islamic bent have complete prohibitions, but in general, it is a safe bet that most theocratic governments and devout practitioners will hold very negative views of the practice.

Interestingly, there are activities that take place in this nation that are bet on widely – it’s just that this betting takes place mainly outside of their borders. Horse racing is a major spectator sport, with both thoroughbreds and Arabian horses running regularly at four racetracks, including Meydan, the track that plays home to the Dubai World Cup.

During the racing season, which runs from November through March, many visitors attend the races – though there is no betting allowed there (beyond some free contests in which fans can potentially win prizes by picking the right winners of several races). On the other hand, gamblers from around the world can easily place bets in locations where these races are simulcast. In particular, the Dubai World Cup – known as the richest race in the world for its $10 million purse – attracts plenty of attention from handicappers around the world.

Of course, there are no casinos or legal poker rooms in the Emirates. However, that doesn’t mean that illegal gambling isn’t seen in the country. Stories of busts on dens or complaints about groups operating such games in public are fairly common. Playing in such games can’t be recommended, and the government does seem to actively attempt to shut down these operations – and given the harsh punishments that can potentially be dished out against players and organizers, it’s probably smart to steer clear.

Policies Likely to be Maintained

There is very little about the UAE that would suggest that their anti-gambling policies are likely to change in the foreseeable future. Simply having a Muslim government is a huge strike against that possibility, and the current president and other rulers have shown absolutely no inclination towards changing those policies. Even the people of the country (other than those who engage in betting themselves, presumably) haven’t shown much of an interest in making changes to this hardline stance. The one long-term ray of hope is the fact that the nation interacts heavily (and positively) with much of the world, but that may not count for much: remember, there are plenty of secular governments that aren’t fond of gaming, either.

It’s also possible that outside forces could make the situation worse before it gets better. As regulation becomes the norm in many nations, operators have taken steps to clean up their profiles, particularly if they are part of publically-owned companies. Perhaps the highest-profile example has been Amaya, which pulled PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker from many nations (including the Emirates), likely in part to ensure that their compliance with various national laws wasn’t in question.

Put all of this together, and it is hard to imagine a scenario where Internet gambling regulation comes to this country in the foreseeable future. If it were to happen, it would likely be preceded by the introduction of some sort of very controlled land-based betting first – perhaps limited to parimutuel wagering or sports betting, or a government-sanctioned casino open only to foreigners. But these possibilities are so far off in the distance that it is difficult to even speculate as to how change in this area could come to the nation.