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General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA) – New Era in Legal Gaming

The Emirates News Agency recently announced the official establishment of the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA) in the United Arab Emirates as a federal authority to introduce a world-leading regulatory framework for a national lottery and commercial gaming. 

The landscape of hospitality and gaming offerings will therefore soon see dramatic developments, which will be a significant boost to the UAE in terms of new investment opportunities, significant employment opportunities, tourism and tax revenue. 

What the regulatory framework and supporting legislation and regulation will look like is eagerly awaited, especially because the significant opportunities have to be developed in line with the social and cultural standards in the UAE.

According to the WOW-RAK site, when the proposed Wynn Marjan resort (Ras Al Khamiah) was revealed in January 2022, the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) announced the creation of a new division overseeing integrated resorts, namely the Department of Entertainment and Gaming Regulation within RAKTDA. This new department is said to be responsible for creating gaming laws while at the same time considering the Emirate’s social, cultural, and environmental backdrop.

It is clear that a modern and robust legal framework will be developed in the UAE and likely based on the best practices from the USA, Canada and potentially also Singapore.

In the USA, gaming is regulated at federal and state level. Each state determines what kind of gambling is allowed, who may gamble and the areas and locations of the gaming establishments. Each state has is own laws pertaining to these areas of the industry. 

In Canada legal gaming is also regulated at federal and provincial (state) level. Each provincial government has set up a corporation to manage and run the gaming within its jurisdiction. For the actual operations of the gaming businesses and establishments private companies are the suppliers of goods and services to the applicable provincially owned company. These providers of the operational services and gaming-related goods are required be registered by the gaming regulator and are subject to its regulation.

In Singapore the two licensed land-based casinos are regulated under the Casino Control Act and a number of regulations, with each covering a different area of the casino gaming industry. These include regulations for the approval for manufacturers and suppliers of gaming equipment and machines, marketing practices, special employee licences, levy’s for entry, granting of credit to players, and general operating policies and procedures. 

We look forward to seeing the structure to be adopted for the regulation of the gaming industry and the extent to which each Emirate, under the overarching Federal laws and regulations, will be required to regulate the gaming and casino operations within its area.

This article was written by corporate lawyer Robert Mitchley and focuses on UAE gaming regulations. 

BSA is a regional Law Firm in the Middle East with offices in the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia. As a full-service law firm our practice areas include litigation, arbitration and corporate services, including M&A, banking & finance, Intellectual Property, TMT, Fintech, employment and insurance.

Published on 06 September, 2023.

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