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MGM Resorts CEO Sees Bright Future for Middle East Casinos

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MGM Resorts International's CEO, Bill Hornbuckle, expressed optimism regarding the company's future development projects during his participation in the J.P. Morgan Gaming, Lodging, Restaurant & Leisure Access Forum last week. He particularly highlighted plans for gaming ventures in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and changes to the Formula 1 race in Las Vegas, which are expected to benefit both the Strip and downtown areas.

Middle East to Enhance MGM's Growth

Hornbuckle discussed several key projects, including the construction launch of a resort in Japan set for summer 2025 and the potential for securing a gaming license in New York. He also mentioned the company's non-gaming hotel project in Dubai, noting the possibility of conversion into a casino. Additionally, Hornbuckle expressed MGM's readiness to explore opportunities in emerging markets like Thailand.

Related: UAE Considers Seven Licenses, Dubai Plans in the Air

Regarding the UAE, Hornbuckle described a proposal to permit a lottery and digital gambling in Abu Dhabi as "fascinating." He expressed interest in pursuing opportunities in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, acknowledging that approval from each Emirate's ruler is necessary.

MGM has been actively engaged in Abu Dhabi for the past 18 months, and Hornbuckle indicated that they have a good understanding of the potential development partners. He anticipates swift progress in identifying a partner once regulations are in place.

The CEO emphasized MGM's progress with its recently launched Marriott booking platform, which has exceeded internal expectations. This platform is expected to reduce booking costs, increase out-of-room spending, and raise the average daily room rate. MGM believes its partnership with Marriott can drive convention activity to its properties, resulting in incremental earnings.

With regards to the second Formula 1 race scheduled for this coming November, MGM aims to enhance profitability by adjusting pricing strategies and increasing engagement beyond the main race event. Learning from the inaugural 2023 race, Hornbuckle highlighted the importance of structuring the event differently to benefit all areas of the city, unlike previous events that primarily benefited certain regions.

US Still a Key Market

In the US, MGM is satisfied with its position in the digital market but aims to improve its parlay product to achieve a higher mix of online gambling options. The company anticipates progress in iGaming legislation in states like Illinois, Indiana and Georgia over the next few years.

Furthermore, MGM expects to launch a single wallet in Nevada this spring, which could significantly enhance its omni-channel acquisition strategy. This initiative aligns with the company's efforts to provide a seamless experience across its digital platforms.

MGM is gearing up for the imminent launch of its Live Dealer service, which will be introduced under the LeoVegas brand. Additionally, the company plans to expand its presence internationally through the BetMGM brand, with launches expected in two additional markets this year, expanding beyond the UK.

MGM also expressed optimism about its international business prospects, suggesting that it could potentially generate $500 million in EBITDA once fully established. This optimistic outlook is contingent upon the successful development of the Brazilian market and MGM's ability to capture a market share ranging from 10% to 15%.

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