United Arab Emirates Residents Not Gung-Ho About Casinos

by TexasDigitalMagazine.com

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Posted on: February 22, 2024, 02:41h. 

Last updated on: February 22, 2024, 02:41h.

The United Arab Emirates (UAB) government, through its recently formed General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA), is expected to consider legalizing casino resorts this year. Not much of the general public is supportive of the undertaking.

United Arab Emirates UAB Dubai casino
The Dubai skyline and Jumeirah beach. A considerable portion of the United Arab Emirates population, a new study finds, opposes efforts to bring casinos to the region. (Image: Getty)

A new poll conducted by “Dubai Casinos,” a media outlet focused on the potential liberalization of gambling, found lackluster backing for casinos.

Among 3,000 respondents, the probe found that just 29% support bringing casinos to the country. Over 42% said they are opposed to the casino talks.

The majority of participants expressed opposition to the idea of legal casinos in Dubai, citing concerns about the potential clash between Emirati culture and the gambling scene,” researchers said.

The GCGRA, headed by former MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren, has suggested allowing four casinos to be built in or around Dubai.

Should gaming come to the region, the odds favor Wynn Resorts being the first licensed operator. Wynn will soon break ground on a $4 billion resort on Al Marjan Island about 30 miles north of Dubai in the Persian Gulf.

Wynn is a minority partner in the project, which is primarily being bankrolled by local firms Marjan LLC and RAK Hospitality Holing. Al Marjan Island is a coral-shaped group of man-made islands in Al Jazirah Al Hamra.

Gambling Remains on Hold

Gambling remains prohibited in Dubai and across the UAE, as it has since the country gained its independence from the UK in 1971.

The UAE is one of the richest countries in the world, and many of its residents want to keep it that way. Some believe casinos would poach wealth from the public.

Gambling also goes against Islam, the UAE’s official religion.

Intoxicants, gambling, idolatry, and divination are abominations of Satan’s doing. Avoid them, so that you may prosper,” chapter 5 of the Quran reads. “Satan wants to provoke strife and hatred among you through intoxicants and gambling, and to prevent you from the remembrance of God, and from prayer. Will you not desist?”

Nearly half of those polled said casinos would also result in gambling addiction and almost 40% said casinos would have a negative impact on the local culture.

Of the 3,000 people polled, 60% live in Dubai and 78% identified as Emiratis. Dubai Casinos sent the survey to over 10,000 UAE residents, but many declined to answer on fears about voicing their opinions publicly.

Support Findings

Though the poll found minority support for legalizing casinos, the study did relay that a majority believes casinos could have a positive impact on the local economy.

Nearly 60% said they agree that casinos could grow tourism and generate new tax revenue for government programs. A third of those surveyed suggested that only foreigners be allowed to gamble at UAE casinos.

About four in 10 said if the government moves forward with casinos, it should embark on a public awareness and education campaign to inform the public on the risks associated with slot machines and table games.

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