Caesars Palace Dubai Changes Hands as UAE Shifts Casino Policy


Caesars Entertainment has made the decision to relinquish its claim on a non-gaming hotel in Dubai just as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reveals a shift in its casino policy. Banyan Tree, a Singapore-based hospitality group, communicated in a recent statement that it’s set to assume control over Caesars Palace Dubai and rechristen the venue as Banyan Tree Dubai.

The Dubai branch of Caesars Palace was launched in 2018 under the stewardship of the original Caesars management, holding onto a faint anticipation that the UAE would one day sanction casino gaming. Current events suggest a possible turning of the tide. Wynn Resorts has its sights set on inaugurating its Wynn Al Marjan Island project in early 2027, with widespread speculation suggesting that it may mark the arrival of the Middle East’s maiden casino resort.

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Fueling such conjectures is the recent establishment of the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority in the UAE, spearheaded by former CEO of MGM Resorts International, Jim Murren. MGM too is occupied with the construction of a non-gaming hotel in Dubai. However, it openly divulged its setting aside of 150,000 square feet of space for conversion into a casino if gaming receives a green signal from UAE regulators.

Historically, Caesars’ international ventures have been far from flawless. When Eldorado Resorts disclosed its plans to absorb ostensibly ‘old’ Caesars in 2019, CEO Tom Reeg, now positioned at the helm of Caesars, hinted that any international opportunity would need to be convincingly enticing for the consolidated company to contemplate branching outside the United States.

Evidently, the UAE, armed with its untouched international gaming market, wealthy status owing to its oil reserves, and appeal as one of the most popular tourist destinations, could, on paper, offer such an opportunity to the likes of Wynn and MGM.

However, if casino gaming finds its footing in the UAE and evolves into a profitable market, Caesars’ decision to leave the region without reaping the benefits of this potentially successful gaming market could be seen as the latest addition to its long-running history of questionable international strategies.

For instance, Caesars lost a golden opportunity to partake in the prosperity of Macau when the territory, a special administrative region (SAR), welcomed foreign competitors over two decades ago. It faltered again by exiting the territory in 2013 at a loss after a failed golf course deal. Presently, Macau reigns supreme as the world’s largest casino market, as gauged by gross gaming revenue.

The timing of Caesars’ departure from Dubai and its contrast to CEO Reeg’s hinted interest in procuring a UAE gaming license on a 2022 earnings call has sparked further debates and questions.

While the exact financial details of the agreement between Caesars and Banyan Tree were not disclosed, the latter has confirmed that after a rebranding, the hotel premises will resurface as the Banyan Tree Dubai later this year.