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Speed Check: Know The Gambling Laws in The UAE 2024

Cover image for post Speed Check: Know The Gambling Laws in The UAE 2024
Speed Check: Know The Gambling Laws in The UAE 2024
Speed Check: Know The Gambling Laws in The UAE 2024

The United Arab Emirates glitters with a vibrant culture and a booming economy. Luxury high rises pierce the desert sky, a testament to the country’s impressive growth.

Yet, amidst the extravagance, there’s one activity strictly forbidden – gambling.

This isn’t a random quirk in the law; it’s deeply rooted in the UAE’s social fabric and Islamic faith.

This clashes with the principles of hard work and fair exchange that are valued in Emirati society.

This article serves as a comprehensive guide for anyone interested in the legal scene of gambling in the UAE.

The UAE takes a strict stance against gambling, reflecting its commitment to uphold social norms and religious principles.

The legal framework governing gambling activities is detailed in Article 460 of Federal Decree-Law No. 31/2021, also known as the penal code.

This law categorizes gambling games as agreements that obligate the loser to pay a predetermined amount to the winner.

The law is clear: participating in gambling activities can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment and hefty fines.

The penalties escalate for those operating or organizing gambling ventures, reflecting the government’s zero-tolerance policy towards facilitating such activities:

Activity Punishment
Activity Engaging in Gambling Punishment Up to 2 years imprisonment or up to AED 50,000 fine.
Activity Organizing Gambling Venues or Games in Public Spaces Punishment Up to 10 years imprisonment, over AED 100,000 fine, asset confiscation, closure of premises.
Activity Online Gambling Punishment Subject to detention and could incur fines between AED 250,000 and AED 500,000.
Activity Having possession of an money or tools used in Gambling Punishment Subject to detention or imprisonment and money or tools shall be seized or confiscated and closure of premises.

Also, under Federal Law No. 5/1985, known as the Civil Transactions Law, any contracts or agreements centered on gambling or illegal wagering are declared invalid and unenforceable.

This is explicitly outlined in Article 1021 of the law:

  1. Any agreement relating to gambling, or prohibited betting, is void;
  2. A person who loses in gambling or prohibited betting may, notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary, reclaim what he/she has paid within six months from the time when he/she paid what he/she lost. He/she may prove such payment by all means of claim by all proper means (proper means may include payment advise, receipts, bet slips, etc).

There are also media regulations that corporations must strictly adhere to when it comes to gambling advertisements.

These regulations are in place to ensure that advertisements do not offend God, Islamic beliefs, or spreading of information that may prejudice children, women, or any other social categories, and provoke violence and hatred.

gambling online laws in the uAE

According to Article 38 of Federal Decree-Law No. 34/2021, the law aims to curb online gambling by imposing strict penalties on those involved in the creation, management, or operation of websites that facilitate unauthorized gambling.

Individuals found in violation of this law are subject to detention and could incur fines between AED 250,000 and AED 500,000, underscoring the UAE’s commitment to eliminating online casinos activities in the UAE.

Also, in the UAE, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has put in place an “Internet Access Management” policy.

This policy requires internet service providers to block access to websites that provide illegal content or content that goes against the moral or public norms of the UAE.

As a result, gambling-related content is generally blocked from being viewed on the internet in the UAE, so you’ll probably will not have access to betting sites.

First, gambling companies in the UAE are bound by content regulations established by the UAE Media Regulatory Office.

Websites and Video games content are classified based on their appropriateness for different age groups, and their content must adhere to established guidelines such as respecting the divine entity,

Islamic beliefs, monotheistic religions, and other beliefs, and not offending any of them under Article 17 of Federal Decree by Law No. (55) of 2023 Concerning Media Regulation. Violations could result in bans and hefty fines within the UAE.

Second, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority enforces an Internet Access Management policy, obligating Internet service providers to block access to websites featuring illegal or culturally inappropriate content. This policy extends to blocking access to gambling-related content on the internet in the UAE.

These regulations are in place to ensure that advertisements do not offend God, Islamic beliefs, or spreading of information that may prejudice children, women, or any other social categories, and provoke violence and hatred.

The Civil Transactions Law outlines exceptions to Contracts of hazard (gharar) that entail betting and some gambling related activities:

  1. Article 1012 defines these contracts as an agreement where one party commits to paying a sum or providing an item upon achieving a set goal.
  2. Article 1013 of the Civil Transactions Law, permits Competitions with prizes in areas such as running, shooting, sports, and preparation for trails of strength, provided conditions like specified bets and clear objectives are met.
  3. Article 1019 of the Civil Transactions Law, allows outcomes to be paid by contestants or third parties to winners, except when the parties agree that the winner shall be entitled to a prize from the other party, as this results in gambling.

These have been the backbone on which activities such as lottery draws (Emirates Draw and Mahzooz Draw), horse and camel racing betting, muscle building related bets were permissible in the UAE.

Engaging in gambling activities in Dubai will result in punishments.

The UAE is not just stopping gambling in casinos, they also take aim at it online too and the law cracking down on online gambling.

Through Article 38 of Federal Decree-Law No. 34/2021 on countering rumours and cyber-crimes “The Cyber Crime Law” provides legal justification for cracks down on websites promoting unauthorized gambling.

Whoever creates, manages or supervises a website, or uses information network to broadcast, transmit, disseminate, re-disseminate, or promote practicing of gambling faces serious consequences, including detention and fines ranging from 250,000 to 500,000 dirhams.

This law doesn’t specifically provide the consequences for individuals engaging in online gambling and mostly focuses on creators and disseminators.

However, this doesn’t mean that those found guilty don’t fall under the ambit of the UAE Penal Code to face punishment.

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