A lot of things have changed in the United Arab Emirati city of Dubai in recent years, most of which has put it on the world’s centre stage.
One thing that has not changed there, however, is its attitudes towards gaming, something evidenced by the jailing of 16 people for running a “secret casino, organising online poker games and gambling” in the city.
Three were of the 16 were natives of the UAE, while the remaining 13 were citizens of a number of countries in Asia and Africa. Four of those charged – who were found to have uploaded software for the purposes of online gaming – were jailed for a year. The remaining 12 were jailed for three months each for gambling and playing poker (at least they noted the difference between poker and ‘gambling’).
An Islamic nation, the UAE has elements of sharia and secular law in its legal system. Due to this, all forms of gaming besides sports betting is illegal in the oil rich country. While the sentences handed out were fairly small, the fact jail sentences were handed out to these men show that gaming is something the UAE Government continue to look down upon. Despite all the changes occurring in the UAE, the current attitude to gaming in the country is likely to continue in the future mainly due to cultural reasons.
Although the country’s economy is going fine due to its strong financial and tourism sectors, it would gain further benefits from regulating poker within its borders. With all the money in the UAE, it would be fair to say that a poker industry would gain traction fairly quickly, allowing a new revenue stream for the country.
The glamorous label synonymous with the UAE cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi would also make it ideal for hosting prestigious, high level poker events. It’s geographical location also makes it ideal, being a reasonable flight from Asia and Europe and having direct flights to North America and Australia.
Unfortunately for poker fans and pros, it looks like that, despite the potential benefits, the game will continue to be looked down upon in the UAE for some time to come.