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UAE Considers Seven Casino Licenses, Dubai Plans in the Air

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Plans to turn the United Arab Emirates (UAE) into a major gambling hub seem to be taking root. The region could approve a number of casino licenses, although one of the major players appears to have had a change of heart.

UAE Bets, Dubai Folds

Inside sources revealed to Bloomberg that the UAE is presently contemplating the distribution of lucrative casino licenses to all seven of its prominent cities. Despite the possibility of some Emirates proceeding with casino projects, a contrasting report suggests that Dubai, renowned for its flourishing global tourism industry, might forego any intentions for a casino.

Related: UAE Moving Quickly on Legal Gambling Plans

The report unveils the stance of Dubai government officials who prioritize sustaining the prosperous tourism sector over the incorporation of gambling activities, consequently deeming it unnecessary. This would deliver a huge blow to MGM Resorts International.

During an investment event in September, Bill Hornbuckle, president and CEO of MGM Resorts, expressed confidence in obtaining a casino operating license in Dubai. However, he refrained from providing any specific timeframe regarding when this might materialize.

Despite the news from Dubai, MGM Resorts is committed to expanding into the area. It is currently building a hotel close to the Burj Al Arab tower. If Dubai changes its mind later, the company will be in a good position to add a casino.

Most of the other emirates haven't provided comments on whether they'll accept the proposal. Abu Dhabi, which hosts the annual Yas Marina Formula One race, is an exception, indicating that it is currently exploring the possibility.

Wynn Resorts Ready in the UAE

Wynn Resorts recently made headlines by disclosing its ambitious endeavor in Ras Al Khaimah, an emirate adjacent to Dubai. Unveiling its grandiose blueprint for an extravagant resort, the casino company plans to bring the enchanting Wynn Al Marjan Island to life by 2027. With a staggering investment of $3.9 billion, this opulent project aims to redefine luxury and hospitality in the region.

In September, Jim Murren, the ex-CEO and president of MGM Resorts, took on the role of chairman for the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA) in the UAE. This position entails overseeing the management and coordination of commercial games as well as national lotteries within the country.

The timeframe for any potential launch of the casino concept remains unspecified; however, sooner would be better than later. Bloomberg's intelligence division reports that the UAE has the potential to exceed Singapore in terms of annual gaming revenue, potentially bringing in $6.6 billion.

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