Trust the numbers

The Guardian this week brought us the story of one of the world’s most successful gamblers, Haralabos “Bob” Voulgaris.

Since staking $80,000 on the LA Lakers to win the NBA championship in 1999, and winning, Voulgaris has been on a mission to make his passion for sports analytics pay out big time.

Following his first big win, he soon went on to rake in millions from bookies, often having to resort to using ‘beards’ – other people to place bets on his behalf – including some of an incredibly high profile, such as undefeated boxing world champion, Floyd Mayweather.

Having been brought up by a father with a habit for losing bets, Voulgaris became determined to use data and analytics to develop an edge for himself against the bookies.

Fast forward several years, and he’s now turning his talents towards the world of sports itself.

Rather than simply placing bets on his favourite team to win, Voulgaris has truly put his money where his mouth is by buying up third-tier Spanish football team, Castellón FC.

His initial plan had been to buy a basketball team, he said, but “they were trading for $200m, $300m and I was like: ‘I can get there.’ Every time I got close, the goalposts moved: $300m, $700m, $1bn. I felt like Sisyphus with the rock.”

Instead, he ended up investing in Castellón for a little over $4m in 2022, suggesting that “buying a third-tier team makes sense because we feel we have an edge, there are inefficiencies we identify, and the pyramid structure is super-rewarding: good work gets you promotion, bad gets you relegated.”

Voulgaris has since gone all-in on helping the team make its way up through the ranks of Spanish football, using his lifetime of experience in sports analytics to inform the decisions meant to get them there.

By using “young players, proper coaches, staff, the right facilities,” Voulgaris hopes to provide the team with what it needs to excel, without going overboard on spending.

“We’ll spend but I won’t throw $350,000 at some 35-year-old,” he insists.

So far, it seems his strategy is paying off, with the team holding its own against rivals one and even two tiers above it in Spain.

“I think we’re doing pretty special stuff here. It’s our model so it’s biased, but we’re 53% to win the league,” Voulgaris says.

And if he’s right, his players will be in for a decent bonus at the end of the season. 

Readers are encouraged to check out this article in full, to revel in the glory of Voulgaris’ own rags to riches story – one he’s now trying to replicate for the players and fans of Castellón FC.

“VIP” treatment

The Wall Street Journal this week brought us the story of a psychiatrist in the US whose life was torn apart by an online gambling addiction she says was fuelled by bonus credits, VIP treatment and data tracking by bookmakers.

Having racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt already, Kavita Fischer “hit a hot streak last summer” that saw her turn $750 into half a million in the space of just six days.

The winnings were enough to pay off her debts, and put the gambling addiction that had taken over her life well and truly behind her.

After making a request to withdraw the funds from her PointsBet account, however, Fischer promptly changed her mind, and after putting it back into play, lost nearly all of it within a day.

“As a psychiatrist familiar with human impulses and addiction, Fischer knew better than most what she needed to do,” according to the WSJ, but she was also up against the sophisticated abilities of gambling firms to leverage data analytics and human behaviour to keep customers betting.

Operators “tracked the ups and downs of Fischer’s betting behavior and gave bonus credits to keep her playing,” the article says, while “VIP customer representatives offered encouragement and gifts.”

The story is one that has already played out in mature European markets like the UK, and following media outry, social and political backlash, has largely been stamped out: the days of major gambling firms offering luxury days out and bonus incentives worth thousands to their “VIP” customers, are apparently all but over.

But in the rapidly emerging online betting sector across the Atlantic, it seems the VIP system is just beginning to rear its head.

PointsBet is not the only operator mentioned in the article, as DraftKings and other operators also apparently plied Fischer with bonuses totalling tens of thousands of dollars.

Again, readers are encouraged to explore this story in full to see the full details of the programmes that kept Fischer gambling, even when it was causing her terrible harm.

If US operators fail to take note of how VIP programmes have played out in other jurisdictions, perhaps this is a story we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the coming years.

Casino prospects say goodbye in Dubai

Al Monitor this week reported on the latest from the United Arab Emirates’ possible future gambling sector.

It wasn’t good news for the industry, however, as MGM Resorts president and CEO Bill Hornbuckle said this week that the firm’s $2.5bn development in Dubai will not be home to a casino.

The integrated resort specialist is in the process of building the Island, a major development based in the Dubai coastal area of Jumeirah.

When finished, the property will boast hotel rooms, apartments and entertainment options, but crucially, will not offer any gambling.

Hornbuckle continues to hold out hope for the possibility of a gambling sector in the UAE, but believes it will arrive first to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, where MGM has “spent some time on the ground,” trying to understand exactly what opportunities may be coming down the line.

“If and when both Abu Dhabi itself as the general licence granter for all or any of the Emirates goes, and then ultimately, one by one, the Emirates say they would like it, we hope to be positioned either for Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but time will tell,” Hornbuckle added.

While the development of MGM’s new resort will no doubt improve Dubai’s entertainment and accommodation offerings, it seems casino gambling is still no closer to becoming a reality.

As and when an official licensing regime is introduced, however, the race will be on – and with its latest project now underway, MGM may have put itself in pole position.

The Mystery East

The UAE’s first gambling regulator has hired a new head of investigations in the form of a recently retired US lieutenant, according to travel industry news specialist Skift.

Ed Aylward – who retired from the Missouri State Highway Patrol in 2022 after three decades of service – clearly cannot sit still for long and is back in action in the Middle East.

It is not immediately clear what Aylward’s responsibilities are in his new role with the catchily titled General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA).

But his role in Missouri involved looking into the suitability of licensees, suppliers and vendors, as well as conducting background checks, reports Skift.

Aylward will presumably be tasked with doing something similar for the GCGRA, which is the sole entity created to regulate, licence, monitor and supervise gaming in the UAE.

Aylward, who follows UAE President HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on LinkedIn, boasts a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Central Missouri State University.

As Skift points out, the UAE has yet to use the word “casino” or “gambling” anywhere in its official coverage of the GCGRA.

Instead, it refers to “gaming facilities” and “gaming activities” and will almost certainly regulate a national lottery.

The GCGRA has adopted a secretive approach since its formation in September but has been quietly building up its team behind the scenes.

Joining Aylward at the GCGRA is industry veteran Ian Tannock, who has previously worked for Ladbrokes Coral, William Hill, Mr Green, BetBull and JOI Gaming.

He has been recruited as a responsible gaming co-ordinator at the regulator, with more appointments set to be announced in due course.

In the meantime, the wider global gambling industry should keep an intrigued eye on the UAE’s grand plans for commercial gaming.  

Train spotting

The Financial Times this week reported that calls are growing to ban gambling ads on London’s underground transport network.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan had promised to ban “harmful gambling advertisements” on Transport for London (TfL) during his 2021 election campaign, citing concerns about the rising issue of problem gambling in the UK.

However, despite the pledge, there has been no implementation, leading to increased pressure on Khan’s administration.

Harj Gahley from Red Card advocated for a comprehensive ban on all gambling ads on TfL, borrowing a clichéd comparison to align the UK gambling industry with the “Wild West”.

However, it transpired that defining “harmful” gambling, as outlined in Khan’s manifesto, remains a challenge.

Dr. Tom Coffey, Khan’s senior adviser on health policy, emphasised the necessity of a precise definition to prevent legal challenges and ensure fair treatment, avoiding penalising “less harmful” forms of gambling, such as the National Lottery and specific betting events.

“There are many people in the UK who gamble, and for the majority, it’s a form of social engagement and participation which they enjoy,” he said.

A proposed ban on specific gambling ads would be the most recent step taken to protect commuters from content adjudged to be harmful.

Ads promoting foods high in fat, salt, and sugar were prohibited in 2016, followed by the ban on ads depicting “unrealistic body images” in 2019.

It appears London’s transport authorities are becoming increasingly discerning about the messages conveyed through their advertising spaces.

Robot wars

Fans of heated patent trials, admittedly a niche genre, will likely be frustrated with recent happenings in the AviaGames v. Skillz Platform dispute, as Reuters reports.

The increasingly vicious IP battle pits two real-money mobile gambling operators in a game of he said, she copied my entire skill-based gaming platform.

Skillz launched the first salvo in 2021 when it accused Avia’s Pocket7Games of being a “copycat” of Skillz’ own offering.

But the dispute took a left-hand swerve in August when Skillz accused Avia of using non-human bots to rig its real-money gaming contests.

As a critic might call this fraud, the Avia execs wisely chose to tool up and hire separate criminal defence.

This turned out not to be wasted money, with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey sending a Grand Jury subpoena to Skillz requesting its documents on the alleged bot rigging.

As such, the Californian federal judge agreed to grant Avia’s motion to delay the trial, which had been scheduled for next week.

For its part Avia denies the allegation, arguing Skillz “engages in the exact conduct it falsely accuses AviaGames of carrying out.”

With the feds primed to kick-down some doors and cuff some perps, the patent trial, which is now scheduled for 2 February 2024, is starting to look like the event of the season.

United Arab Exit

The latest story in Unusually Timed Business Decisions came from Bloomberg this week, as it reported on Caesars Entertainment’s decision to relinquish its resort in the UAE.

The casino giant currently operates Caesars Palace Dubai after opening in 2018, but the property is set to be rebranded as a Banyan Tree property from November as Caesars prepares to leave the UAE behind.

The decision has raised eyebrows not least because the country, where all forms of gambling are currently prohibited, recently made a major announcement about the formation of its very own Gaming Commission.

Developments towards a regulatory framework for gambling in the country has seen Wynn commit to building a brand new resort in the Ras Al Khaima emirate, while MGM continues to work on the construction of its own resort in Dubai.

With the associated uptick in revenue that integrated resort operators could find from opening casino operations in the country, Caesars’ decision to leave at this point doubtless struck many as rather odd.

Especially given that during a 2022 earnings call, Caesars CEO Tom Reeg said: “That was the original thought when Caesars struck that deal in Dubai, that maybe ultimately, the UAE would have gaming.

“If there’s an opportunity, you should expect that we would be active and our brand and building is already open.”

Given that the opportunity is now becoming clearer on the horizon, is Caesars missing a trick by leaving its UAE operations behind?

Or does it know something we don’t?

Fixed match bettor avoids jail time

The latest in the world of match-fixing came from The Guardian this week, as it reported that Australian former leading table tennis player Adam Michael Green has narrowly avoided jail time related to previous fraudulent betting activity.

In court, Green admitted to placing 1,170 bets on fixed international table tennis tournament matches, winning himself and his overseas associates $473,000 in the process.

Newcastle (New South Wales) district court judge Peter McGrath said “he was satisfied Green was genuinely remorseful and ashamed for what he had done and the impact it had had on the game he loved,” according to The Guardian.

In addition, a psychological report suggested that Green needed ongoing treatment for a gambling disorder – a service that woud not have been made available to him in prison.

In lieu of a custodial sentence, Green was placed on a three-year intensive correction order and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.

He was also prohibited from holding any betting account for the next three years.

Green’s bets on fixed matches took place over a seven-month period, up until his eventual arrest in December 2020.

He pleaded guilty in court to one count of using corrupt information to bet on an event and one count of knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.

“Persons placing bets are likely to be defrauded or suffer losses when individuals in possession of corrupt information use it to their own advantage,” the judge said.

“All players in the market, those who set the markets and those who bet on them, are entitled to expect it is a level playing field.”

Green’s arrest was the result of investigations by New South Wales detectives alongside Sport Integrity Australia.

The case marks one more step towards ensuring a level playing field for all.

Competition hots up as NFL season begins

As the NFL season gets underway in the US, Business Insider this week treated us to its view on how new competition could “shake up” the betting industry.

The American football season is no time for complacency among US operators, as they battle it out for their share of customer spend across the country.

And while FanDuel and DraftKings continue to lead the charge, “everyone’s kind of fighting for that third and fourth spot,” according to Macquarie gambling analyst Chad Beynon.

Among the main challengers for a podium position are Stoke on Trent-based bet365, Insider suggests, which many have called the “sleeping giant” of US betting.

As one of the most popular gambling brands globally, the firm’s lacklustre approach to the US since the repeal of PASPA in 2018 has had many guessing at when it will go full throttle on the still-nascent betting market.

The firm’s US app has made significant gains this year, driven by “marketing spend and product quality,” according to Eilers and Krejcik’s Chris Krafcik.

And while it has long since missed its chance at a first mover advantage, the company’s highly regarded product and reputation could see it challenge rivals for a top spot among US operators.

Elsewhere, two non-endemic betting companies in Fanatics and ESPN also have a chance to shake things up, Insider suggested.

“All eyes will be on” the companies as they enter the fray this autumn, “with consumer-facing brands that could be powerful enough” to challenge the status quo.

In spite of it all, though, the piece suggests that market leaders FanDuel and DraftKings are hardly likely to run scared from the competition.

With more than 70% market share between them, the firms remain laser focused on improving their profitability while maintaining their effective duopoly on the market.

On the other hand, operators like BetMGM and Caesars “should be worried,” as newcomers threaten to steal market share away from the third and fourth biggest brands in the sector.

Readers are encouraged to set aside a few minutes to get the full rundown of the change of dynamics taking place in US betting this NFL season.

By the time the tournament concludes in January, the industry could look very different to the way it does today.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has created a federal authority to regulate commercial gaming as the country takes another step towards legalising lottery and casinos.

The news was confirmed by the state-owned Emirates News Agency (WAM) on 3 September. The newly created regulator is called the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA).

It has pledged to introduce a “world-leading regulatory framework” for national lottery and commercial gaming in UAE, which looks increasingly likely to become the first Gulf state to legalise land-based casino gambling.

There was no mention of online gambling in the WAM press release, the introduction of which seems extremely unlikely at this stage.

US casino giant Wynn Resorts expects to “soon” obtain a licence from the regulator after last year announcing plans to build a $3.9bn integrated resort in Ras Al Khaimah, which is the UAE’s sixth largest city and an emirate around 45 minutes away from Dubai.

The GCGRA has looked to the US for its leadership team.

Gaming Laboratories International veteran and former Missouri Gaming Commission director Kevin Mullally has been appointed CEO of the new regulator, while the authority will be chaired by ex-MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren.

Murren said: “I am delighted at the appointment of Kevin Mullally. He brings unparalleled category experience and will be invaluable in creating a fit-for-purpose regulatory framework for the UAE.”

UAE government officials have said there are no imminent plans to allow gambling, but casino operators are increasingly confident that change is being considered as the country looks to protect its reputation as a tourism hotspot.

Bloomberg Intelligence gaming analyst Angela Hanlee believes the UAE could generate $6.6bn in gaming revenue annually with the potential to surpass Singapore, which is home to Las Vegas Sands’ renowned Marina Bay Sands resort.

Permitting and regulating gambling would be a major change for the UAE where Islam provides the main basis for legislation. Gambling is prohibited under Islam and is currently illegal in the country, where offenders can be fined or sentenced to two years in prison.

Bloomberg further estimates that Dubai would be the biggest beneficiary of the UAE’s push into commercial gambling.

“The emirate has already seen an influx of newcomers and tourists largely stemming from its handling of the pandemic and attractiveness as a wealth haven,” wrote Bloomberg reporter Omar Tamo.

“The introduction of casinos could further boost its tourism sector — a key pillar of the emirate’s economy — that’s been booming and escaped much of the geopolitical and economic uncertainty elsewhere in the world,” he added.

Elsewhere, Jon Gambrell, Gulf and Iran news director for the Associated Press, believes the creation of a federal regulator suggests that Abu Dhabi, the country’s capital, will oversee the potential operation of casinos in the country.

He also suggested that new casinos could increase the risk of money laundering, with Dubai’s real-estate market described as a “haven” for the financial assets of criminals.

How do you solve a problem like crypto?

In the Financial Times this week, business columnist Helen Thomas argued that governments shouldn’t treat crypto like gambling – “even if it is largely pointless.”

Reporting from the world’s “biggest bitcoin event” in Miami, Florida – where attendance was about half as strong as it had been this time last year – Thomas noted that “some of the buzz and meme coins are gone,” as was the crypto industry’s “sense of indestructibility.”

Having faced several major challenges and crises over the past 12 months, the world of crypto has battled against those who would seek to bring it down.

Not least among them are governments, with US agencies launching “a slew of enforcement actions in the sector,” and politicians in Westminster recommending cryptocurrencies be regulated as gambling.

For Thomas, that meant “an influential parliamentary committee suggested that crypto was, not disruptive or renegade, but worse: borderline irrelevant.”

Indeed, parliamentarians in the Treasury select committee judged currencies like Bitcoin to have “no intrinsic value” and serve “no useful purpose,” instead suggesting that trading cryptocurrencies was hardly different at all from backing the favourite in the 5:50 at Sandown or lumping it all on 17 in roulette.

This “dismissive” approach was wrong, in Thomas’ view, as she argued that even though cryptocurrencies themselves may have failed to clearly elucidate the use cases of distributed ledger technology, that doesn’t mean it is totally without utility.

“The industry still does a very bad job of explaining things,” said Oliver Linch, chief executive of Bittrex Global. “It’s been wink wink … if you know, you know, to the moon nonsense.”

Lawyer Marc Jones went on to suggest that “to say [cryptocurrency] is gambling makes no sense legally,” with Thomas adding that it also wouldn’t contribute to effective regulation of the sector.

And all this at a time when “UK gambling regulation is still trying to catch up with the invention of the smartphone.”

Still, there remains a challenge in working out who exactly should be looking after the crypto sector – should it be the gambling world or the finance world?

Thomas suggests that “dividing responsibility between regulators would be a mistake. The crypto universe doesn’t neatly split into conceivably useful and definitely pointless.”

For the time being, she suggests that financial regulators still seem the most likely contenders for the position of Bitcoin watchmen in the future, with the latest report “unlikely to prompt a change of direction from the government.”

Unlikely, perhaps. But stranger things have happened.

UAE casino still a gamble

Wynn Resorts’ much discussed project to bring the first casino resort to the United Arab Emirates was the subject of another story in Forbes this week.

The article suggested that the cost of developing the resort is likely to push the local government of Ras Al-Khaimah – one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, and the first to develop plans for a casino – into a fiscal deficit.

The integrated resort is expected to open its doors in 2027 after ground was first broken on the project earlier this year.

For a small economy like Ras Al-Khaimah, however, Forbes said “the project represents a giant gamble.”

The development is set to cost close to $4bn, equivalent to some 32% of the emirate’s total GDP last year.

RAK Hospitality and Al-Majran Island, two state-owned companies, are developing the project together with Wynn and are assumed to hold a majority stake in the venture once it’s up and running.

According to a report from Fitch Ratings, however, the resort is expected to “weigh on public finances initially” before boosting growth prospects and national revenues in the longer term.

The development will likely push the government’s budget into a 0.1% deficit this year and 0.2% in 2024, according to Fitch, as a result of the cash injections needed to build the resort.

On the upside, however, the ongoing construction work should boost the emirate’s GDP by one percentage point this year and three points in 2024, with real GDP in those years set to grow 4.4% and 5.1% respectively.

And, with the resort set to be the only destination of its kind in the surrounding region, there’s no telling how much it could generate once it arrives.

A fine mess at Meta

Dominating discussions earlier this week was Meta’s record-breaking €1.2bn fine in the EU, as reported by Bloomberg, which was levied on the social media giant just a couple of days before the fifth anniversary of the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The Facebook owner was ordered to cough up, and to stop transferring user data to the US within the next five months, after regulators said it had failed to protect personal information from American security services.

The Irish Data Protection Commission said continued data transfers to the US didn’t address “the risks to the fundamental rights and freedoms” of the people the data belonged to, and were promptly deemed unlawful.

The decision had been widely expected, according to Bloomberg, as there was already some precedent here. The last time Meta’s transfer of data between the EU and US came to under inspection by regulators in 2022, the company threatened to pull its Facebook and Instagram services out of the region entirely.

This time, Meta said it would appeal the latest decision, which it described as “flawed” and “unjustified”. It will also immediately seek a suspension of the banning orders on its transfers of data, which it said would cause harm to the “millions of people who use Facebook every day.”

According to Meta’s chief legal officer Jennifer Newstead and former UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (who for some reason is now Meta’s president of global affairs), the rules risk chopping up the internet “into national and regional silos, restricting the global economy and leaving citizens in different countries unable to access many of the shared services we have come to rely on.”

Any appeals from Meta will have to be filed in Ireland, and will take months at best to be resolved.

It seems that while the internet might make it seem like we live in a world without borders, that doesn’t mean companies like Meta can simply ignore them.

UAE looks like a Wynner

Arabian Business reported this week that Wynn Resorts’ plans to build the first casino in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have come one step closer to fruition.

The plan, first revealed in January this year, involves Wynn building a luxury integrated resort in Ras Al-Khaimah, the sixth largest city in the UAE.

It would be the first resort in the UAE to include a gaming area, after the Ras Al-Khaimah Tourism and Development Authority (RAKTDA) was reported to have created a new Department of Entertainment and Gaming Regulation.

At present, gambling is illegal in the country. Authorities are currently working on their gambling regulations, Arabian Business reported, using a combination of Singaporean and US regulations as their foundation.

On Wynn’s Q3 earnings call with investors this week, the operator’s CEO Craig Billings said of the yet-to-be-built property: “The casino component – where at least for some period of time, we will be operating on our own, which makes it quite exciting – is shaping up to be somewhat larger than Wynn Las Vegas, but with numerous pockets of energy and compression.”

When it opens in 2026, the resort is expected to boast an 18,500 square meter casino, making it one of the top 10 largest casinos worldwide and almost double the size of the casino at the Wynn Las Vegas.

Billings was also able to shed some more light on the nature of upcoming regulations in the jurisdiction. 

He said: “We’re not looking at a multiyear process for legalisation like we have seen in some other markets. Regulations are well advanced, having been modelled on those of Singapore and the United States. The tax rate and license structure are very reasonable.

“And finally, with the regulatory framework taking shape and a regulator in place, we will be licensed to conduct gaming in Ras Al Khaimah.”

It appears, then, that travellers to the UAE can look forward to kicking back on the tables and slots in just a few short years.

Time to Meta your maker

As reported by the New York Times, Facebook and Instagram owner Meta employees saw a tidal wave of staff cuts this week, as more than 11,000 people lost their jobs with the tech giant.

The figure relates to some 13% of the firm’s workforce – which stood at more than 87,000 employees as of the end of September.

Layoffs were made across several departments and regions, with some areas including recruitment and business teams affected more seriously than others.

Departments which emerged relatively unscathed from the process included engineering teams working on projects related to the metaverse, NYT reported.

“I want to take accountability for these decisions and for how we got here,” Meta CEO Zuckerberg wrote in a letter to the firm’s employees. “I know this is tough for everyone, and I’m especially sorry to those impacted.”

Zuckerberg added that the cuts were the result of a too-fast expansion during the Covid-19 pandemic, where a surge in online commerce led to significant revenue increases for the firm.

At the time, he said, he thought that growth would be permanent, which led him to significantly increase the business’ spending.

“Unfortunately, this did not play out the way I expected,” he said. “I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that.”

Having thrown around its spending power in recent years – buying up tech brands like Instagram and WhatsApp – Meta’s fortunes seem to have changed over the course of 2022.

Once valued at a staggering $1 trillion, shares in the tech giant are down 67% this year, and it now boasts a market cap of less than $300bn.

The news follows on from the much-publicised recent takeover of Twitter by Tesla owner Elon Musk, who also made enormous cutbacks on staff numbers at the social networking giant.

It seems the big tech bubble could now be starting to burst.

Save me a Barstool

According to an article in the Washington Post, a US district court judge this week dismissed a lawsuit filed by Dave Portnoy, founder of sports and culture website Barstool Sports, which is now part-owned by casino and online gambling operator Penn Entertainment.

Portnoy had attempted to sue digital news outlet, over the publication of two articles quoting two women who accused the founder of sexual misconduct and assault.

The case filed by Portnoy accused Insider, its chief executive, top editor and two correspondents, of “willful and unlawful defamation and privacy rights violations” over the publication of the stories.

Portnoy also alleged that Insider timed the publication of the two articles about his personal conduct to hurt the share price of Penn Entertainment, which owns a 36% stake in Barstool Sports.

This week, Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV granted Insider’s motion to dismiss the case, writing that Portnoy’s suit did not succeed in proving that Insider published the stories with “actual malice” or “reckless disregard for the truth,” the legal standard required to prove defamation of public figures in the United States.

Because Portnoy did not allege that the anonymous sources used for the stories were fake, or that the articles misrepresented what they told Insider, the complaint was deemed not to meet the standard for defamation.

Insider spokesperson Mario Ruiz said: “Our reporting on Dave Portnoy was careful, fair, and accurate. We are pleased and gratified that the judge dismissed his complaint.”

In response, Portnoy said in a five-minute video posted on his social media accounts that the case: “Ain’t over … but I don’t know where I’m going from here to be honest. The champagne bottles will remain on ice.”

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.