American casino giant Wynn Resorts has set its sights on a new market that has never before allowed gambling: the United Arab Emirates. The Nevada-based group announced a multibillion-dollar deal with the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, UAE, aimed at opening a 1,000-room luxury hotel with 10 restaurants and lounges, a spa, a convention center, shopping venues. and a games area.
The announcement came in conjunction with a statement from the Ras al-Khaimah Tourism Development Authority introducing a new division, called the Department of Entertainment and Gaming Regulation, which will regulate “integrated resorts” that include hotel operations, entertainment venues, restaurants. , spas, retail stores, convention and “gaming” areas.
The term “Gaming” is often used synonymously with gambling in the context of hospitality and leisure venues, although it is unclear whether this explicitly means cash gambling.
“The newly announced integrated resort is still in its early design phase and is expected to be completed by 2026,” said a statement from Marjan, the Ras al-Khaimah developer involved in the deal, according to the Associated Press. “These are all the details that can be provided at this stage.”
The UAE, famous for its glitzy skyscrapers, gigantic malls and deserts, has often been compared to Las Vegas – except for a few key differences, the biggest of which is that the Arab sheikh’s official religion is Islam, which forbids betting games.
Liberation of gambling could represent a milestone for the entire country
While drinking alcohol and wearing bikinis on the beach has long been permitted in most parts of the country, setting it apart from many of its Middle Eastern neighbors as a foreign-friendly hub, there is no place for gambling – even with the construction of a Caesars Palace in Dubai.
If the Ras al-Khaimah Tourism Development Authority’s announcement does indeed define games to include betting, it will be significant for the entire country. The move would represent another step in a long and fast-paced series of reforms aimed at diversifying the UAE’s traditionally oil-based economy and competing with its neighbors and the wider world for tourism, investment and foreign talent.
“The region offers tremendous potential for the hospitality and tourism industry, and we are excited at the prospect of developing an integrated resort in Ras Al Khaimah,” said Wynn Resorts CEO Craig Billings. He described Al Marjan Island, where the resort will be built, as “an unspoiled setting and ideal location”.
The new gaming regulator will follow “global best practices in regulating gaming that operate as part of integrated resorts in multiple jurisdictions around the world. The main priority of this new division is to create a robust structure that guarantees responsible gaming at all levels.”
Ras al-Khaimah is the northernmost emirate in the UAE and has long worked to attract tourism as it struggles to compete with the country’s commercial and tourist capital, Dubai. The UAE is made up of seven emirates, which are governed by individual leaders but who are ultimately loyal to the national leadership in Abu Dhabi.
About Wynn Resorts
Wynn Resorts as a company is known for its luxury casinos and hotels, particularly in the gambling hubs of Las Vegas and Macau.