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Dubai plays it cool as neighbours go all-in on gambling

In the ever-competitive world of the Emirates, Dubai, which is known for its glitz and glam, has seemingly slammed the brakes on any plans it might have had for a casino.

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According to Bloomberg, Dubai is sitting this round out, and has put any plans to allow gambling on the back-burner, at least for now.

While it delays, however, Abu Dhabi appears to be all in, with ambitious plans to introduce casinos and Yas Island high on their radar. Yas Island is the one with Ferrari World and Warner Bros. theme parks.

But don’t count Dubai out entirely. While it may not be rolling the dice on a full-fledged casino, it is reportedly flirting with the idea of hosting a swanky poker series.

Over in Ras Al Khaimah, meanwhile, things are heating up. The Northern Emirate, just a hop and skip away from Dubai, has landed a whopper of a deal. As we know, Wynn Resorts has announced plans for a $3.9bn resort, slated for opening in 2027.

This remains something of a twist in the tale, as casinos in the UAE would mark a paradigm shift, given the Islamic laws that influence the region.

Still, where there’s a will, there’s a workaround, and Bloomberg sources suggest the UAE might dish out a single casino licence to each emirate.

Some analysts predict the UAE’s casino market could outpace even Singapore’s. Given the kind of deep-pocketed tourists Dubai attracts, that forecast is not entirely far-fetched.

Ukraine looks to US for mob clear-out

In an effort to rinse its gambling sector of Russian influence, The Guardian this week suggests Ukraine is gearing up to adopt strategies reminiscent of the US’s crackdown on the Italian mob in Las Vegas during the 1980s.

After reinstating gambling after a decade-long ban and just prior to the 2022 invasion, Ukraine saw a surge of Russian interest in its booming gambling market, both in terms of profits and the gathering of personal data of Ukrainian gamblers.

The Ukrainian gambling watchdog commenced the process of licence revocation in September 2022. By spring, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had sanctioned more than 400 entities and individuals linked to Russian gambling outfits, inclusive of five native gambling firms.

The net was also cast over banks and financial institutions suspected of aiding in laundering gambling proceeds for Russian oligarchs.

With Russian influence continuing to cast a shadow over the gambling sector, even regulatory bodies haven’t been immune.

Olena Vodolazhko of Ukraine’s Gambling and Lottery Regulation Commission underscores the need for reform in the article, and has turned to the US Gaming Control Board for insights.

The goal? To emulate the success of US regulators and law enforcement in their joint mission to expel the mafia from Vegas.

While the 2020 Ukrainian gambling law enabled casinos and online gambling, it unwittingly paved the way for Russian gambling entities and oligarch-linked legal advisers to stake their claim.

Drawing parallels, the Italian mafia was instrumental in shaping Las Vegas’s casino-hotel landscape until the 1970s’ FBI probes into organised crime – think Martin Scorsese’s Casino.

Flutter UK CEO does not feel good about gambling bill

The CEO of Flutter UK and Ireland has expressed strong reservations about the implications of the forthcoming Irish Gambling Regulation Bill.

Ian Brown, talking to the Racing Post this week, cautioned that the bill could lead to significant harm for the Irish racing industry and might drive numerous gamblers to unregulated markets.

Central to the debate is a proposed restriction on gambling ads between early morning and evening hours, which could pose a financial challenge for dedicated horse racing channels broadcasting in Ireland.

While Brown recognises the merits of many bill provisions, he fears certain restrictions could reduce betting revenue significantly and shift bettors to unregulated platforms.

Post his discussions in April with James Browne, the minister of state at the Department of Justice, Brown highlighted five primary concerns.

They revolved around the rising unregulated market threat and proposed alternatives for stake limit restrictions, incentives, and advertising measures.

In the article, Brown reminisced about his two-decade association with Ireland, emphasising the country’s deep-rooted passion for horseracing.

He fears the bill, in its present form, might irreparably damage the Irish racing sector, potentially affecting 30,000 to 40,000 jobs.