Atif Nader
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UAE Considers Allocating Casino Licenses Across All 7 Emirates

Cover image for post UAE Considers Allocating Casino Licenses Across All 7 Emirates
UAE Considers Allocating Casino Licenses Across All 7 Emirates
UAE Considers Allocating Casino Licenses Across All 7 Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is considering issuing a single casino license to each of its seven emirates, a strategic move aimed at capitalizing on the prosperous casino tourism sector while maintaining manageable sector expansion, as per a Bloomberg report.

Despite this plan, not every emirate may choose to activate its casino operations immediately, with Dubai reportedly pausing any plans to venture into the casino business for the time being.

This news follows the UAE’s announcement in early September about the creation of its official gambling oversight body – the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA). This new authority, to be spearheaded by ex-MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren, is charged with setting up a structured regulatory environment for commercial gaming activities and introducing a national lottery.

Wynn Resorts, a leading American casino conglomerate, is already in the midst of constructing what is anticipated to be the UAE’s inaugural integrated resort with a gaming facility on Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah.

Scheduled to open its doors in 2027, the US$3.9 billion development promises a high-end hotel with over a thousand rooms, an upscale retail complex, a cutting-edge convention center, an exclusive spa, more than ten dining and lounge options, a variety of entertainment venues, and other luxury amenities.

Bloomberg also notes that Abu Dhabi is considering introducing casino gaming, with Yas Island, known for hosting the Yas Marina Formula One Circuit, being a prime candidate for development.

In Dubai, MGM Resorts is undeterred by any hesitance, proceeding with the construction of a massive 1,500-room hotel near the iconic Burj Al Arab.

The CEO and President of MGM Resorts, Bill Hornbuckle, expressed optimism about the prospect of gaming in the region at a G2E conference session in Las Vegas, stating: “We’re very progressive and excited by what could happen there. We think there’ll be three or four [casinos] in the Emirates.

It’s up to each ruler to decide what they want to do and where they want to do it. We’re positive. I’d love to be in Dubai with an operating company that includes a casino, but we’re taking it one step at a time.

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