Dubai is considered by many to be one of the crown jewels of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and it’s hardly surprising. After all, it is renowned for its beautiful architecture, luxuriousness, and impressive business opportunities. However, when it comes to gambling, residents of the city must adhere to strict laws and regulations, which prohibit the activity entirely. As a result, you won’t find either land-based or online casinos operating within the city borders.
Nevertheless, Dubai does provide several other forms of entertainment, including the prestigious Dubai World Cup at the Meydan Racecourse, so there are still plenty of ways to have fun in the city. Of course, people need to respect the religious and cultural fabric of Dubai and the UAE, so adhering to gambling restrictions is a simple request. However, for those with a desire to experience the thrill of casino games, there may be some options provided in other destinations where these activities are legal.
This post will look at the history of gambling in Dubai and the UAE, the best forms of alternative entertainment for gambling enthusiasts in the city, the future of gambling restrictions, as well as some destinations close to Dubai that offer legal casino experiences.
History of Gambling in Dubai and the UAE
It’s no secret that the UAE follows a strict adherence to Islamic principles, which consider gambling a serious sin, and this is important to understand because it explains why gambling has been prohibited as a result. Indeed, the Quran states that gambling is a “destructive” activity and, therefore, there are serious consequences for those who are found to be gambling within Dubai, including fines and potential imprisonment.
It should be noted at this point that gambling prohibition in Dubai and the UAE includes both land-based and online forms. Back in 2012, UAE President, Sheikh Khalifa, introduced regulatory frameworks for online gambling that led to something called the Internet Access Management policy, which forces internet service providers to limit access to any type of gambling service for UAE citizens.
Current Available Options for Gambling Enthusiasts
After reading the above, you might be thinking that there are no gambling options available in the UAE – and it’s understandable. However, this is not the case for foreign tourists, who can access certain gambling-related activities.
For example, horse racing has become a popular form of entertainment for foreign tourists in the UAE, with venues like the Meydan Racecourse and Jebel Ali Racecourse hosting lots of events. Likewise, some online casinos are available to foreign tourists. However, none of these companies are permitted to serve UAE citizens.
Future Options for Gamblers
Ultimately, things are unlikely to change any time soon – if ever – simply because the prohibition of gambling within the UAE is based on religious beliefs. Therefore, any changes made would be based on significant religious and cultural changes, which are unlikely to occur.
However, there could be some major changes coming soon that would massively impact the experiences of foreign tourists who wish to gamble. This is due to a plan by Wynn Resorts to open an 18,500 square-meter casino on Dream Island, which would also house a 1,000-room hotel, spa, and shopping mall. Publicly available information suggests that these facilities are planned to open in 2026, so there’s still a while to wait.
Destinations Close to Dubai That Offer Casino Experiences
If you’re looking for top rated casinos, it’s not something you can expect from a trip to Dubai. With so many restrictions in place, it can be difficult even for foreign tourists to find legal access to this type of entertainment. Even considering online casinos, it may be difficult to access them due to online service providers regularly restricting access to citizens.
However, there are several considerations to make, which could satisfy the desire to gamble when visiting Dubai and the UAE and are willing to travel by plane. Consider the following options:
- London Club, Egypt: Located in Cairo, Egypt, London Club is situated in the Four Seasons First Residence hotel and provides a huge range of casino games, including roulette, blackjack, poker, and slots.
- Casino Du Liban, Lebanon: Located in Jounieh, Lebanon, Casino Du Liban provides visitors with access to lots of games, as well as regular tournaments. Available games include roulette, blackjack, poker, and video slots.
- Radjah Grand Casino, Egypt: Another casino located in Cairo, Egypt is the Radjah Grand Casino. It is situated in the Sonesta Hotel and is a 24-hour establishment with roulette tables, blackjack tables, a punto banco table, and slot machines.
Sports Betting in Dubai
Of course, not everyone will be willing to travel from Dubai to the likes of Egypt or Lebanon, and that’s understandable. This will prevent you from being able to play casino games. However, there is still an alternative to consider that will not require long-distance travel -and that’s sports betting.
If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, consider the following options:
- Meydan Racecourse: Home of the Dubai Racing Club, the Meydan Racecourse provides foreign tourists with plenty of horseracing to enjoy, including the Dubai World Cup. However, there are also lots of top-class facilities to take advantage of, including restaurants and hospitality packages.
- Jebel Ali Racecourse: Also located in Dubai, the Jebel Ali Racecourse is popular with foreign tourists and provides regular horse races, as well as food and drink.
It’s fair to say that gambling is always going to be a tricky subject when it comes to Dubai and the UAE, and that’s understandable due to religious and cultural beliefs. Therefore, rules and regulations should always be respected when spending time in these locations.
However, there are some options for foreign visitors, including popular racecourses, as well as casinos within traveling distance, if you are willing to fly. Whether things change in the future remains to be seen but, for now, foreign visitors are restricted to horseracing and online alternatives (legal) if travelling to the likes of Egypt or Lebanon is not an option.