The United Arab Emirates is home to the world’s richest thoroughbred race meeting, the Dubai World Cup Night, for which there is more than $20 million up for grabs in just six contests. So it may come as something of a surprise to find out that gambling is illegal in the Arab country, but in during our research of Asia we again find that some legitimate sites will accept the UAE. Currently, the most active gambling site in the UAE is Betway; an Asian specific brand that works with UAE countries. They are just big enough to not get IP blocked like larger sites such as SpinPalace.
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority
So seriously does the United Arab Emirates government take its prohibition of online gambling that it established the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and tasked it with producing the Internet Access Management policy, which outlines banned online content categories for Internet service providers. These categories include the following:
- Internet tools for bypassing blocked content
- content for learning criminal skills and illegal drugs
- content containing pornography and nudity, gambling websites
- websites for hacking and malicious codes, content offensive to religions,
- phishing Internet sites – Internet content that downloads spyware
- websites providing unlicensed voice over Internet protocol services
- terrorism content and prohibited top-level domains, which is a reference to the il. domain.
Sheikh Khalifa 2012 Decree
And only recently the United Arab Emirates stiffened up its laws when UAE president Sheikh Khalifa issued a decree that has been described as the most comprehensive cyber-crime law in the Arab world. Sheikh Khalifa’s 2012 decree, which builds on one made in 2006, makes it illegal to use the Internet to transmit, publish or promote pornographic material, gambling activities and indecent acts.
What’s interesting is that Gambling seems to be the least offensive in terms of having the website blacked. At the Telecoms Regulatory Authority its shows the UAE blocks 0% of internet gambling sites. I have heard of a few sites being blocked, but do believe the list to be pretty short from those I have spoken to on message boards about betting online.
The “Get Around”
There are reports that United Arab Emirates online gamblers get around the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority’s infamous Internet Access Management policy by using a web proxy server. There are thousands of free proxy servers but Telecommunications Regulatory Authority officials have found and banned most of them. Other methods, including using a virtual private network or connecting with Remote Desktop to a Microsoft Windows computer outside of the United Arab Emirates, have been used as well but there are even more difficult to pull off consistently. Besides, getting around the Internet Access Management policy does not change the fact that online gambling is an illegal activity.
Punishment for Gambling
Article 414 of the United Arab Emirates Penal Code states that whoever gambles shall be punished by detention for a maximum period of two years or by a fine not exceeding 20,000 dirhams. A penalty of detention or a fine shall be inflicted if the crime occurs in a public place, a place open to the public, or in a place or house prepared for gambling. And Article 415 says that punishment by imprisonment for a maximum period of 10 years shall be inflicted upon anyone who opens or runs a place for gambling and prepares such a place for admission of people, as well as anyone who organizes any game of gambling in a public place or in any place or house prepared for such a purpose.
The United Arab Emirates has such anti-gambling legislation that it would be silly to think that the environment will change. Few countries are more committed than the federation of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain to prohibiting gambling.
We can not condone gambling in the UAE, but again, it goes on all the time on the internet according to reports at Betway.