Genting Group Eyes UAE Expansion, Signalling Boost for Global Gaming Industry

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As the potential for expanding the global gaming industry into the United Arab Emirates (UAE) becomes increasingly likely, another powerhouse joins the ranks of those interested in making a grand entrance. The Genting Group, a major player in the world of international gaming, has expressed eagerness to place itself right in the heart of the UAE’s blossoming gaming landscape.

Chairman Lim Kok Thay took the opportunity to express the company’s interest in UAE during Genting’s recent annual meeting. The annual gathering saw stakeholders of Genting Singapore being apprised about the possibility of the UAE featuring as a pivotal aspect of the operator’s future plans for integrated resort expansion, alongside prospects in Thailand.

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In relation to the proposed expansion into the Middle East, Genting representatives have hinted at the potential integration of their well-honed expertise in non-gaming offerings into the envisioned project. “Genting will be more than glad to participate in an Integrated Resort development in UAE, where it can bank upon its wealth of experience in the realm of non-gaming offerings,” affirmed the minutes from the recent annual meeting.

Genting Singapore, a crucial branch of the Malaysia-based Genting Bhd, operates Resorts World Sentosa, one among the duo of casino resorts currently dotting the city-state. The structural dynamics and potential pursuit course for a UAE license, however, Chief Lim opined, isn’t clearly distinguishable just yet.

He also surmised that the likelihood of international tenders rolling out for casino-specific projects in the UAE is considerably low. Hence, assuming that casino gaming does take root in UAE, experts forecast that operators would seek out models resembling those charted out by the likes of Wynn Resorts.

Wynn Resorts, a front-runner in the race to secure the first gaming permit in UAE, has partnered up with Marjan LLC and RAK Hospitality Holding LLC to launch the Wynn Al Marjan Island integrated resort in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates. Wynn approaches this project with a proposed financial injection of $900 million, taking on the role of a minority investor.

Matching Wynn’s prowess, Genting also boasts significant mastery in non-gaming offerings. This attribute may become one of their trump cards to attract regulators in the event of UAE opening its doors to casino gaming. Despite the sprawling expanse of Wynn’s UAE property, measuring an impressive 5.6 million square feet, the actual casino is set to encompass a mere 4% of it, perfectly in alignment with anticipated regulatory stipulations demanding a reduced focus on casinos in integrated resorts.

Currently, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah have emerged as the prime emirates predicted to approve casinos. On the other hand, Dubai, UAE’s glamorous tourist hotbed, continues a measured, unhurried approach towards accepting Las Vegas-style gaming venues.

A Genting foray into the UAE is anticipated to be a strategic move for the company. According to some experts, the potential casino market in UAE might surpass that of Singapore. Resorts World Sentosa, operated in conjunction with Las Vegas Sands’ Marina Bay Sands, is already proven as a cash cow for Genting.

However, the path to the UAE leaves Genting and others with numerous questions. The General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA), UAE’s debut gaming regulatory authority, was established a little over nine months ago, but there is still no clear indication of when gaming licenses will be granted or how this process will unfold.

Yet, there are hopes that the coming months will bring about much-awaited clarity. Experts predict that the inaugural casino permit will likely be granted to Wynn. If that were to materialize, it would give the operator a significant headstart over its competitors in the UAE’s alluring gaming arena.