UAE Reportedly Considering Granting Casino License to All Seven Emirates
- UAE could offer a casino license to each of its seven emirates
- Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi could be the first emirates to launch a casino
- In Dubai, legalized gambling is not a top priority as of now
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) could grant a gaming license to each of its seven emirates as it moves ahead with casino legalization. However, it remains uncertain whether all of them are ready to embrace legalized gambling, with Dubai said to be putting on hold any immediate plans for a casino in the city.
Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi Frontrunners in Casino Legalization
According to a report by Bloomberg, UAE officials are considering authorizing each emirate to launch a casino to enable them to capitalize on the lucrative gaming market while keeping growth in check. Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi lead the pack, with both emirates keen on allowing casino gaming in their respective jurisdictions.
Ras Al Khaimah has been chosen as the location for US-based casino operator Wynn Resorts’ newest integrated resort project. Earlier this year, the group unveiled its design vision for the project which will feature a 1000-room luxury hotel, a meeting and convention facility, restaurants, a shopping mall, as well as gaming areas. Named “Wynn Al Marjan”, the $3.9 billion development is slated to open in 2027.
In Abu Dhabi, officials are reportedly weighing the idea of building a casino on Yas Island, a popular tourist attraction where the Ferrari World and Warner Bros. theme parks are located. A plot near the city’s port is also being considered as a potential casino site, according to sources.
Dubai Holds Off Casino Plans
Dubai, which is considered among the ideal locations for a casino in UAE, has put its gaming plans on hold for now, according to the Bloomberg report.
People with knowledge on the matter said that following months of discussions, top officials decided to shelve plans for legalized gambling as the city’s tourism industry is currently thriving. They may reconsider the idea in the future, but in the meantime, officials are mulling the possibility of introducing a poker series to the city, the sources said.
Despite that, MGM Resorts remains hopeful that the city will be open to gaming, as the group plans to expand its existing hotel project near the Burj Al Arab to include a casino. MGM CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle said they’re “positive” on that and are looking forward to operating a company with a casino in the city.
The UAE’s future gambling market will be overseen by the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA). Established in September, the agency will be headed by former MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren.
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