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Middle East on Track to Become a Major Player in the Global Gaming Industry

Famous for its vast deserts and oil-rich reserves, the Middle East is experiencing a digital transformation that is sweeping through the region.

The area is gradually becoming a global technological hub thanks to its burgeoning gaming industry, dominated by traditional video gaming and the rapidly developing iGaming sector.

Most countries in the region are still firmly against integrating iGaming to generate revenue, citing cultural and religious concerns as reasons for their hesitance.

However, some nations such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have opened their doors to iGaming, although that decision comes with strictly regulated rules.

Online gambling is still a touchy subject in the Middle East, so most nations have turned their attention to the gaming sector.

Several Middle East countries have developed a strong desire to diversify their economies and drastically reduce their dependence on oil reserves.

That’s where the gaming and iGaming sectors come in, as both are lucrative and already brimming with immense potential.

The focus on gaming is mostly evident in Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Reformative steps are being taken to modernise regulatory frameworks and embrace new economic opportunities.

Calls for Reform are Gaining Momentum in Kuwait

Calls for economic diversification and a modern legislative framework in Kuwait are gaining momentum, but whether they will extend to the iGaming industry is anyone’s guess.

Real money online casinos in Kuwait currently operate in a legal grey zone. They are generally licensed and regulated in overseas jurisdictions rather than in the Arab world.

However, there are several risk factors involved in engaging with such platforms. Some are unregulated, which exposed players to fraud and lack responsible gambling measures.

Kuwait’s Vision 2035 aims to transform the nation into a financial and commercial hub. There’s a growing recognition that embracing digital industries, including iGaming, could significantly contribute to economic growth.

The country’s stance on iGaming may gradually shift as younger generations become exposed to global trends. Still, religious leaders will likely rally against any form of gambling as it violates Islamic laws.

Their stance is in direct contrast to what is happening in other Middle Eastern nations and threatens to leave Kuwait playing catch-up in the race to embrace digital technology developments.

The UAE is Pioneering New Horizons

The UAE’s progressive approach is reflected in its efforts to diversify the economy by developing digital entertainment and gaming sectors.

The eagerly anticipated Wynn Resort in Ras Al Khaimah is one of the most significant developments in the UAE’s gaming landscape.

Officials will cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony of the new resort, which is poised to be the first of its kind, in the next three years.

Notably, it will feature a gaming area emphasizing the UAE’s more liberal stance on embracing the iGaming sector. This move is part of a broader strategy to attract international tourists and investors, leveraging the global appeal of luxury resorts and entertainment complexes.

The UAE is also working towards establishing a new gaming authority to support their initiative. This will oversee the licensing and operation of gaming activities within the country, ensuring compliance with international standards and best practices.

Creating a gaming authority is a critical step towards building a robust regulatory framework that can manage the potential risks associated with gaming while maximising economic benefits.

The UAE’s investment in the digital entertainment sector, including eSports, further highlights its commitment to becoming a major leader in the gaming industry.

Saudi Arabia Embraces Gaming Culture

Saudi Arabia is experiencing an unprecedented shift as part of its Vision 2030 plan to diversify its economy, and the gaming and iGaming sectors are playing a key role in this growth.

The Saudi Pro League (SPL) has become a focal point for betting activities, reflecting a growing interest in sports betting. That’s mainly due to the influx of superstars from Europe – a shopping system showing no signs of slowing down.

This trend is indicative of the broader acceptance of gambling-related activities in the country, which historically has maintained a conservative stance on such matters.

Saudi Arabia is not entirely sold on online gambling, but the increasing popularity of betting on the SPL opens up the potential for regulated iGaming in the kingdom.

The country is also making significant strides in developing its eSports sector. The government has invested heavily in building state-of-the-art gaming facilities poised to attract local and international talent and investment.

The societal attitude towards iGaming in the Middle East has evolved, so it’s only a matter of time before nations like Saudi Arabia fully embrace the increasingly lucrative industry.