Skift Take

After all the "will they, won't they?" the Wynn Resorts CEO has reaffirmed that UAE is finally saying, "Deal!" to its very first casino!

Wynn Resorts’ CEO said recently that efforts to secure a gaming license for the Wynn Al Marjan in United Arab Emirates’ Ras Al Khaimah is “imminent” and gave additional details.

Skift reported last November that Wynn had confirmed there would be a casino at the property. However, questions have lingered due to the UAE’s strict Islamic laws, which don’t permit activities like gambling.

The Wynn Al Marjan Island property would be the first-ever gaming resort in the Gulf region.

On an August 9 conference call, CEO Craig Billings said that there’s no requirement for a nationwide legalization process.

“We have everything we need to operate gaming in Al Marjan,” Billings said on the call. “And I think there’s confusion here because there’s a lack of understanding regarding individual emirates versus the UAE as a whole.”

Billings clarified that the structure of UAE features individual emirates operating within a broader federal system.

“There should be no concern that a broader legalization process needs to occur in order for gaming to occur in that property,” Billings said.

Billings explained that while discussions may be underway about legalization at the federal level covering all emirates, he expects that Wynn will have its license for Ras Al Khaimah soon.

“So while there may be conversation in other Emirates about legalization or legalization at the federal level, thereby covering all Emirates, I expect that we will have our license for Ras Al Khaimah actually imminently,” BIllings said during the recent earnings call.

Billings has previously said that the casino at Wynn Marjan would be “somewhat larger than” the flagship U.S. gaming venue — Wynn Las Vegas.

He said construction has commenced.

Opening and More Details on The Resort

Announced last year, the 1,500-room Wynn Marjan is scheduled to open in 2027 on the man-made Al Marjan Island of Ras Al-Khaimah.

At $4 billion, it would be Ras Al Khaimah’s largest foreign direct investment project.

Earlier this year, Wynn unveiled the design vision of the resort, inspired by the seascape of Al Marjan Island, a group of four islands.

The resort is being developed with local partners Marjan and RAK Hospitality Holding.

Ras Al Khaimah is hoping to welcome over 3.8 million visitors by 2027, according to a recent report by global property consultant Colliers. In 2022, the emirate recorded 1.13 million overnight hotel guests.

Based on the impact of the opening of gaming facilities on visitation and considering the characteristics of tourism in the emirate, Colliers estimates that Ras Al Khaimah will welcome 3.8 million tourists by 2027 and more than 5.5 million visitors by 2030. 

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Tags: asia monthly, casino resorts, earnings, gaming, middle east newsletter, Middle East tourism, ras al khaimah, uae, wynn resorts

Photo credit: Rendering of Wynn Al Marjan Island- View of island. Wynn Resorts

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