Major UAE city could legalise casino gambling as Wynn unveils plans to develop multi-billion dollar integrated resort

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Wynn Resorts is primed to build a luxury integrated resort including a casino ‘gaming area’ in Ras Al-Khaimah, the sixth largest city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Ras Al-Khaimah is the UAE’s largest city after Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Al Ain and Ajman and is becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination.

In partnership with property developer Marjan, Wynn plans to develop a destination featuring more than 1,000 rooms, retail, meeting and convention facilities, a spa, restaurants, lounges and crucially for the first time in a UAE-based resort, a gaming area.

The resort is scheduled to open in 2026 and marks the largest foreign investment of its kind in Ras Al-Khaimah, according to Las Vegas-based Wynn. It will also mark the casino operator’s first beach resort globally.

Abdulla Al Abdooli, CEO of Marjan, said: “The integrated development, featuring a world-class hotel, entertainment and gaming amenities, will add to the Emirate’s destination strategy to attract tourists from across the world. 

“We are partnering with Wynn Resorts, one of the world’s most renowned integrated resort companies, which has a strong track record of developing luxury destinations with exceptional accommodation, dining, entertainment concepts and gaming facilities.”

Craig Billings, newly appointed CEO of Wynn Resorts, added: “Al Marjan Island is a pristine setting and an ideal greenfield location for us to create the one-of-a-kind guest experiences for which Wynn Resorts is renowned. 

“The region offers tremendous potential for the hospitality and tourism industry and we are excited about the prospect of developing an integrated resort in Ras Al-Khaimah.”

Gambling is currently prohibited across the UAE.

However, reports suggest the Ras Al-Khaimah Tourism and Development Authority (RAKTDA) has created a new Department of Entertainment and Gaming Regulation.

The department will be responsible for licensing, taxation, operational procedures and consumer safeguards relating to gaming, which looks set to be legalised in the sheikhdom provided it takes place in an integrated resort approved by the regulator.

In a statement, RAKTDA said the top priority of the new department is to create a robust framework that guarantees responsible gaming at all levels.

Wynn rival Caesars Entertainment already runs an integrated resort in the UAE at Caesars Palace Dubai, although the property does not offer casino gambling to customers.

About the author

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Conor Mulheir

Conor entered the gaming industry in 2018 producing high-level live event content for audiences in London, Amsterdam and São Paulo. From 2020, he went on to report news and commission exclusive content for various gaming media brands before joining iGaming NEXT as editor in January 2022.

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