Macau and Las Vegas have been addressed as the leading casino resort hubs on a global scale, but gambling market experts believe that a third one might be able to join their ranks soon.
As CasinoGamesPro has reported, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is expected to become the first country in the Persian Gulf region to make casino resorts legal. Recently, the country launched a new gambling watchdog – the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority – as it intends to establish a regulatory framework for commercial gambling services and a national lottery.
Some might consider the move a surprising one, given the fact that Islam and Sharia law do not go together with gambling. However, the UAE, and more specifically the emirate of Dubai, as well as other parts of the region, have increasingly liberal and more relaxed laws because they are a desired tourist destination.
The former chief executive officer of MGM Resorts International, Jim Murren, was appointed as chair of the newly-created gambling regulator, while Kevin Mullaly, a long-time veteran in the casino sector, will serve as the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority’s chief executive officer. Even though Mr. Murren will seemingly play an important part in the development of the United Arab Emirates’ gambling sector, experts have noted that the MGM connection should not be taken as a sign that the US casino operator will have an advantage when it comes to developing a mega-resort in Dubai.
MGM Remains Focused on the Potential Establishment of Casino Resort in the UAE
At the 2023 Bank of America Gaming and Lodging Conference which took place earlier this month, the CEO and President of MGM Resorts International, Bill Hornbuckle, commented on the company’s plans associated with the Persian Gulf region, saying that the casino developer and operator remains positive about its future there. According to the company’s boss, MGM Resorts could be authorized to operate a UAE casino but he was unable to give any timing for such a move.
If a casino resort is eventually allowed in the United Arab Emirates, the venue is expected to be hosted at Porto Islan, Jumeirah. It also seems that Mr. Hornbuckle shares some analysts’ opinions that the resort project was originally seen as a hotel management deal. Things, however, might change, especially considering the recent launch of the country’s gambling watchdog.
The boss of the US casino giant sees Dubai as a market opportunity worth more than $3 billion but the company has not yet specified to what exactly that figure refers.
With the UAE moving to make casino gambling legal, some gambling and casino giants are hoping to expand their presence in the region. Both MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts have been underway with some plans to establish their presence in the Emirates by opening properties in the country before the new gambling regulatory authority was officially announced by the UAE’s Government.
As previously revealed, MGM Resorts first unveiled plans for a non-gaming resort in Dubai back in 2017. At the time when CEO Hornbuckle spoke to investors on an earnings call that took place earlier in 2023, the perspective for the property appeared to include a casino floor, and the company’s boss had noted that the project continued to evolve.