UAE Delays Casino Resort Approval, MGM Resorts Amends Expansion Strategy


MGM Resorts International’s aspirations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been dealt a provisional setback as the city-state of Dubai has reportedly chosen to defer its decision regarding the approval of casino resorts. MGM, in collaboration with Wasl Hospitality and Leisure, had recently unveiled a branded hotel in the effervescent metropolis. The lavish hotel, in addition to MGM Residences, and Bellagio Hotel, represented a strategic foray by MGM into the Emirati market in 2021.

The reveal occurred amid positive sentiments regarding UAE’s potential to establish a well-defined gaming regulatory structure and pave the way for casinos. To this end, MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle had earlier commented on the company’s keen observance of the developments, revealing that a hefty 150,000 sq. ft. area of its Dubai property has been set aside, should the stand on casino establishments be relaxed.

While confirmation on the plans remains undisclosed, Bloomberg shares that the rescheduling of casino gaming approval by the UAE powerhouse isn’t all gloom and doom. In fact, Dubai might spin poker series into the equation soon. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah persist as the top potential locations for UAE’s inaugural casino resorts, among the federation’s seven emirates.

The shift in decision, however, puts the spotlight on Dubai’s glimmering peers—Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah. These emirates are carving out niches of their own, with Abu Dhabi contemplating the notion of a casino resort on Yas Island, or a spot near the city’s bustling port. Likewise, the capital of the versatile emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, is also home to enticing attractions like an aquarium, the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building – and Flamingo Beach.

Despite the delay in approval, Wynn Resorts’ plans haven’t waned. The resort giant recently initiated its ambitious Wynn Al Marjan Island project, planned to debut in early 2027. Nestled in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, the immense $3.9 billion facility is anticipated to mark UAE’s first tryst with casino gaming.

Yet, the shift from Dubai signifies not a downturn, but a positive shift in the gambling landscape of the Middle East’s financial powerhouse. While Dubai steps back from the casino running for now, industry insiders and analytic experts retain an optimistic forecast towards the long-term viability of casino gaming in the UAE. Analysts project that over time, casino gaming revenues in the UAE could even eclipse that in Singapore. Bloomberg Intelligence posits that the UAE’s gaming revenue could reach an astonishing $6.6 billion. Yet, matching the benchmarks set by Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore could indeed be a challenging proposition.

With the whirlwind of changes lately, exploring the ever-evolving world of casinos can be a riveting journey. But for those constrained by travel or simply looking for a convenient yet thrilling gaming experience, online casinos offer just the remedy. To assist you in navigating this exhilarating universe, we at West Island Blog have laboriously curated a list of the top online casinos for this month. Join us as we guide you through this immersive platform where convenience meets thrill.


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