Horse racing is one of the most popular sports in the UAE. The wide number of riding clubs and state-of-the-art riding and racing facilities is a reflection of its residents’ adoration and enthusiasm for the sport. From young children to adults and seniors, a large number of residents are interested in equine sport in some way, be it merely riding, jumping, or racing.
With so much interest in the sport and the associated events, one might wonder if betting on horse racing is allowed in Dubai like in other countries. If you are wondering the same, here is your chance to find out.
History of horse racing in Dubai
The first horse racing event was held in the UAE in Dubai in October 1981 under the guidance of Prime Minister and vice-president of UAE and Dubai’s Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Since then, the only way was forward as the sport’s popularity began to grow throughout the country. The first event that put Dubai on the global horse racing map was the Dubai World Cup held in 1996 on the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse 1996. In 2010, the event was shifted to the newly inaugurated Meydan Racecourse.
Since its introduction, the Dubai World Cup has become one of the top international horse racing events and garners the attention of millions of fans from around the world. Since 2019, the race has gained the status of the world’s richest horserace, with prize money worth $12 million.
Another major crowd puller is the Dubai World Cup Carnival. The event was launched in 2003 and takes place from January to March end. The event consists of eight race nights and offers the foundation for the horses to be launched into the Dubai World Cup.
All in all, it is safe to say that horse racing is a major industry in Dubai that enjoys international recognition and earns copious amounts in revenue.
Betting on Horse racing in Dubai
It may sound surprising to most that gambling is forbidden in the country home to the world’s largest horse racing event. Dubai is regulated by strict Islamic Shariah laws, and gambling is strictly prohibited.
Betting is not only banned in Dubai; it is also prohibited in the rest of the UAE. Although Dubai is a business hub and popular with business travellers, it does not have any land-based casinos.
Gambling in any form is so strictly prohibited that if anyone is found guilty of gambling, they would be inflicted with a two-year jail sentence and/or a fine of AED20,000. Therefore, if you are visiting Dubai or any other city in the UAE, it is important to avoid getting involved in any such activity.
Moreover, if you are planning to bet illegally, the local authorities do not take kindly to such occurrences. In 2020, an official app was launched, and citizens were encouraged to use it and report any suspicious activity around them.
Therefore, it is better to be informed and avoid getting in trouble.
However, horse racing and betting go hand in hand, and a notion of the race without wagering is not perceivable to many ardent fans. In that case, how does one cope if there are no conventional brick-and-mortar casinos in Dubai and the laws are so strict?
How to bet on horse racing in Dubai
As an ardent horse racing punter, you may be vying to bet on the esteemed Dubai World Cup, where betting on site is not allowed. Even if you meet individuals saying they’ll take your bet at Meydan Racecourse, do not fall for it. The repercussions will be severe if you take them up on the offer, are caught, and are found guilty.
Many people resort to using VPNs to keep their location and identity hidden on online betting sites. Internet service providers are actively blocking online sites, but avid punters use proxies to find bookies offering Dubai racing.
Your only legal option around Dubai is to head to a race day at Jebel Ali racecourse, and enjoy the racing there, where it is possible to at least enter competitions to win some prizes.
Our advice if you’re attending the races in person in Dubai, take a watching brief only unless you’ve placed your bets online before even entering the UAE.