Wynn Resorts has shared its willingness to get to set a foot on a new market where gambling has never been legally allowed – the United Arab Emirates.
This week, the US casino giant announced that it reached a multi-billion-dollar deal with the UAE emirate of Ras al-Khaimah under which it will be given the chance to establish a 1,000-room luxury hotel featuring a convention facility, a spa, a number of lounges and restaurants, shopping venues, and a gaming area.
The announcement was confirmed by the Tourism Development Authority of Ras al-Khaimah that introduced a new division under the name of Department of Entertainment and Gaming Regulation. The latter will be engaged in the regulation of so-called integrated resorts – large hospitality and gambling complexes that feature hotel operations, retail shops, convention areas, entertainment areas, spas, retail shops, dining areas, and gaming services.
Although gaming is often used as a synonym to gambling when it comes to hospitality and leisure venues, for the time being, it remains unclear whether it means cash betting in this case. The developer involved in the deal between the US casino giant Wynn Resorts and the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, Marjan, explained that the newly-announced integrated resort is still in its early design phase. The developer refused to provide further details on the deal at this stage but revealed that the project is expected to be completed by 2026.
Gambling Is Not Allowed by Islam in the United Arab Emirates
The official religion in the United Arab Emirates is Islam, under which gambling is forbidden. Although other restrictions associated with the religion have been lifted for quite some time in the country, gambling has not been allowed so far, even with the building of Caesars Palace in Dubai.
So, if the Ras al-Khaimah Tourism Development Authority’s announcement really defines gaming as an activity that includes gambling, this would be a major step for both the emirate and the entire country. Such a move would come as a significant step toward a long series of reforms that are aimed at liberalization and diversification of the UAE’s economy and making the country more competitive with its neighbors, not to mention the fact that it would become more attractive in terms of investments and tourism.
Ras al-Khaimah is the northmost emirate in the UAE. It has long been trying to boost its tourism sector while struggling to remain competitive to Dubai, which is currently addressed as the country’s commercial and tourism capital.
According to Craig Billings, the newly-appointed CEO of Wynn Resorts, the region has an excellent potential exactly for the hospitality and tourism industry and the US casino developer shared its excitement about the prospect of an integrated casino resort’s development in Ras al-Khaimah. Mr. Billings further described the man-made island of Al Marjan, which is set to host the resort, as a pristine location to host the venue.
The emirate’s Tourism Development Authority revealed in a statement that the new gaming regulatory body is set to follow some of the best practices in the regulation of gambling that is offered as part of integrated resorts on a global scale. It also shared that the cultural, social and environmental specifics of the Emirate will be taken into account when it comes to the establishment of the aforementioned integrated casino resort. Licensing, operational procedures, taxation and customer safety will also be covered by the regulator.
In its statement, the Tourism Development Authority explained that a new gaming division would require operators, suppliers and employees of integrated gaming resorts to comply with all applicable laws and regulations in the country, including its financial crime legislation. The operators will also have to ensure responsible gaming at all levels.