Dubai: Sixteen men were given different jail terms for running a secret casino, organising online poker games and gambling in an electronic games shop at Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR).
The Dubai Court of First Instance jailed four defendants — two Emiratis, an Uzbek and a Bangladeshi — for one year.
Meanwhile, the remaining 12 defendants — six Syrians, two Egyptians, an Emirati, a Jordanian, a Bahraini and one from Comoros Islands — were jailed for three months each.
According to Tuesday’s judgement, the non-Emirati defendants will be deported.
An undercover police team posed as gamblers before raiding the unlicensed casino and arrested the defendants in what was described as the biggest illegal and secret online gambling den in Dubai.
Four of the defendants uploaded a software known as LotosPoker to special gaming machines that were fitted with electronic games.
The software enabled gamblers, according to Dubai Police’s electronic evidence report, to access online poker games such as Party-Poker and Party-Casino.
One of the undercover policemen paid Dh500 and played online poker before he won Dh1,800.
When he asked them to pay his reward, they deducted five per cent profit for the casino and paid him Dh1,700.
Prosecutors charged four of the defendants with running an illegal gambling den. The rest were charged with gambling and playing poker.
When none of the defendants showed up in court some of them pleaded guilty while others denied their accusations.
An Emirati police lieutenant said an informant alerted them that an electronic games shop had organised an unlicensed and secret casino in JBR.
“An undercover police squad posed as gamblers and headed to the poker place. I paid Dh500 to one of the defendants, who opened for me the special device and used a special key to open credit to start an online poker game. I won Dh1,800 and when I asked for my reward, the same attendant handed me a special card that contained points. One of the Emirati defendants, I.M., asked the attendant to take back the card. He told me to meet him outside the place to give me the reward after ten minutes. When I collected the money, the police teams raided the shop. The poker machines were seized,” said the lieutenant.
One of the Bangladeshi defendants, who worked at the shop, said his role was to collect money from gamblers and operate the poker machines.
Tuesday’s ruling remains subject to appeal within 15 days.