Local Tourism Official Rejects Speculation of Legal Gambling Coming to Dubai

The middle of the week saw an emirate official reveal that Dubai does not currently plan to allow gambling. The announcement came at a time when a neighboring emirate is preparing to allow a casino resort to be established by a US casino company and plans to license casino gambling for the first time in the region.

As CasinoGamesPro reported in January, one of the 7 emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ras Al Khaimah, revealed the local authorities’ intention to regulate gaming before the 2026 arrival of Wynn Resorts there. Following the announcement, there has been some speculation that gambling could also be legally allowed in the Dubai emirate, where Caesars Entertainment opened a luxury resort in 2018.

This speculation has now been rejected by Issam Kazim, a senior tourism official in Dubai, who noted that no gaming was coming to the emirate anytime soon.

So far, Caesars Palace Dubai is the only resort operated by the US gambling giant Caesars Entertainment that does not feature a casino. At the same time, one of the main competitors of the company, MGM Resorts International, is building its own resorts on an artificial island only about 10 km away from Dubai.

Dubai Registers an Increase in the Number of Foreign Visitors

Traditionally, there have been stricter religious rules in the Gulf region than in the rest of the Middle East. Islam is the official religion in the UAE, so gambling has long been forbidden in the country. According to reports from sources familiar with the matter, some form of gambling is expected to be permitted there in the future, mostly because of the large number of foreign tourists who visit the United Arab Emirates.

If the speculations turn out to be true, Dubai would become even more attractive to foreigners, because in this case, it would most likely welcome some global casino operators. The senior tourism official Issam Kazim noted that Dubai was the fourth most-visited city on a global scale before the coronavirus pandemic and believes that it has all the chances to reach the top spot in the near future.

Considering the fact that it remained open to visitors during the multiple lockdowns associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, the Dubai emirate welcomed almost 4 million overnight international visitors during the first three months of 2022, a figure that marks a more than 200% increase from the same period a year ago. According to some data that was officially released earlier this week, average hotel occupancy in the emirate hit 82% in the first quarter of 2022, compared to 64% in the first quarter of 2021.

Last year, Dubai hosted an overall 7.28 million visitors, while the last pre-pandemic levels registered in 2019, right before the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, involved a total of 16.73 million visitors. Reportedly, the first three months of 2022 saw India being displaced as Dubai’s top source market by visitors from neighboring Oman. Russian visitors were the fifth, with 190,000 visitors in the first quarter, marking a 91% increase from the previous year. In 2021, Russian visitors to Dubai totaled 444,000.

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