Dubai Imprisons More Than a Dozen Over Illegal Casino Operations

Posted on: July 27, 2022, 10:59h. 

Last updated on: July 27, 2022, 02:37h.

Police in Dubai raided an illegal casino this past April. Now, 17 involved in the operation are headed to prison. Five others will have to pay a fine.

Dubai Marina
An aerial view of the Dubai Marina. The emirate continues to crack down on illegal gambling after raiding a sophisticated operation. (Image:

The illegal operation was located in a Dubai villa. The underground casino apparently attracts customers from several countries. But when a tip came into the police station in Al Rashidiya, the activity came to a grinding halt.

Police raided the property, uncovering poker and roulette tables with no shortage of customers. The surprise assault was part of a larger plan Dubai is undertaking to try to eliminate illegal gambling across the emirate.

As they entered, the officers discovered an elaborate setup spanning both floors of the two-story villa. It even had a cashier and surveillance cameras throughout the property and food and beverage service.

Dubai currently isn’t casino-friendly, which means underground casinos such as this one can be popular.

Caught in the Act

Officers ultimately arrested 17 people in the raid—all of those faced charges of abetting criminal activity when they faced a court judge this week.

At the head of the organization was a 29-year-old Chinese national who had managed to get the casino off the ground without getting caught. The unidentified ringleader will now spend a year behind bars and pay a fine of $27,225. After his release, Dubai is going to deport him back to China.

The other 16 individuals police arrested came from various backgrounds, including China, Ethiopia, India, and Nigeria. They helped run the establishment, working as translators, croupiers, custodians, and more.

Several gamblers were in the villa when the raid took place. The police indicated that the five people came from the UK, India, Indonesia, and Iran. They denied they were gambling, instead saying they were attending a party.

These five were sentenced to pay a $2,723 fine. It isn’t clear from the police report if they were deported.

Never Say Never

Although Dubai asserts that legal casinos are not an option, there’s always an outside chance that it will change its mind in the future, especially given recent changes in the country.

The emirate already relaxed its strict anti-alcohol policy, removing a law that required anyone who wanted to consume alcohol to have a license. The emirate is also going all-in on digital. It is introducing a new “metaverse strategy” that will lead to 40,000 new jobs and as much as $4 billion to its GDP in five years.

Additionally, Caesars Entertainment has a non-gaming property in the emirate, and MGM Resorts International has considered developing a hotel there. Dubai is also building a new soccer-themed hotel. This is a direct response to the upcoming FIFA World Cup tournament in Qatar, and the venue should open in November.

As a result, there’s a remote possibility that Dubai could continue to evolve its gaming laws.