Dubai Government denies rumours of legalised gambling

By Violeta Prockyte

The Government of Dubai's Media Office has stated rumours of licensed gambling in the city are false.

The misinformation was spread on social media regarding several hotels in Dubai that allegedly obtained licenves for gambling activity.

The rumor stated the licences would allow venues to offer gambling services to visitors as early as mid-May, with the start of the Eid al-Fitr celebration.

Gambling is illegal under UAE law and those engaging in the activity could be fined anywhere between AED250,000 ($54,459) and AED500,000. Illegal activities include creating, managing or supervising gambling-related content.

Currently, the city has no plans to legalise casino gaming or sports betting; however, there are several horse racingvenues, which do offer guests a limited chance to punt on horses without breaking the law, though this service is very strictly regulated.

Last year, Dubai’s police launched an app where people can report suspicious activity. The app can be used both by tourists and residents alike. Additionally, in 2020, the Dubai Government shut down gambling kiosks that targeted low-income workers.

The activity was called Lucky Game and allowed players to draw envelopes with a chance to win prizes.

Managers of the kiosks argued they were offering prizes, not cash, so the service was not illegal, but the authorities shut the kiosks down due to exploitative practices; ensuring all raffles in Dubai are monitored by Dubai Economy and any similar activity should be reported.

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