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Will Gambling Ever Be Allowed In The UAE?

The Ras Al Khaimah government which is one of the smallest and less known of the seven emirates was contemplating earlier this year whether to permit gambling at some of its resorts and locations. Immediately following the announcement, Wynn Resorts, the largest casino operator in Las Vegas, announced plans to construct a gaming resort on an artificial island.

Some persons with knowledge of the situation suggested that gaming of some kind will be legal in the UAE. They did, however, add that it would be up to each emirate to decide whether and how to enact regulations in this regard, much to how Sharjah does not allow the sale of alcohol, in contrast to other emirates. Additionally, they stated that the policy would change soon but did not give a specific date. Perhaps they will look to go with some of the sites available here as they have proven to be popular with players in Europe?

The chance of gambling occurs amidst competition

There is competition while gambling in the Gulf as a whole, where the UAE is vying with Saudi Arabia to become a well-liked travel destination in a region of the world that is shifting away from oil. In order to maintain the competitive advantage of gambling here in UAE over Saudi Arabia, the UAE whose 90% of the population is foreign, has already made moves in other areas.

This year, the Emirates switched to a Saturday-Sunday weekend in order to better serve global markets. In many Muslim countries, the weekend is often Friday-Saturday. The UAE has changed its laws in the last 18 months, decriminalizing situations where unmarried individuals live together as well as alcohol use. The nation has also figured out how to provide certain games of chance.

Plans and propositions

Ras Al Khaimah emphasized that its policies will promote responsible gaming and were being crafted by the recently established Department of Entertainment and Gaming Regulation. Associated Press questioned the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority about how its plans would coexist with federal rules prohibiting gaming, but they received no response.

Gaming in Ras Al Khaimah is likely to be restricted to foreigners, according to Vitaly Umansky, an industry expert in the gambling sector at the Sanford C Bernstein investment firm in Hong Kong.

Prior to the plans and propositions, the developers must submit an application for an integrated resort license to the newly created Department of Entertainment and Gaming Regulation of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority. The phrase "integrated resort" is also frequently used to refer to a casino-hotel complex, and the creation of a new division to handle such establishments raises the possibility that the Wynn resort is not an isolated instance.


It is a given among analysts and those with an interest in the global casino market that some kind of gaming will be legal in the UAE. Many people have also noted that the gaming laws in each of the UAE's freely governed emirates will probably vary. Similar to how Sharjah's limits on alcohol are different from those of the other emirates, it is likely that the same will apply to gaming.

Up to this point, the UAE government has refrained from commenting on Ras Al Khaimah's ambitions. Whether there are any plans for the rest of the UAE, particularly Dubai, to follow suit has likewise gone unmentioned.

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