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Wynn’s UAE gamble could be “in trouble” if Dubai chooses to allow casino: analyst

Wynn Resorts’ casino in the United Arab Emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah could be “really in trouble” if nearby Dubai also chooses to allow gaming in the emirate.

Vitaly Umansky, Seaport
Vitaly Umansky – Senior Research Analyst – Global Gaming, Seaport Research

Speaking at a panel at G2E Asia, in Macau, Vitaly Umansky – Senior Research Analyst – Global Gaming, noted that RAK “is a small emirate, it doesn’t have a lot of competitive economic advantages.”

Moderating the panel was Fredric Gushin, CEO of Spectrum Gaming, who noted that “the speculation is there might be authorization for up to one casino in each emirate.

That doesn’t mean they’ll have one in each emirate. Dubai has announced they might pass legislation but I don’t think Abu Dhabi will”.

Speaking of the possibility of Dubai adding an IR, Umansky expressed doubt, noting that the contributions to its economy wouldn’t be significant.

Fredric Gushin, Spectrum Gaming Group
Fredric Gushin, CEO of Spectrum Gaming Group

“I think there’s going to be a political agreement between all of these emirates,” noted the analyst – a move which would allow each to grow and maximize their respective advantages, and scale. “The smaller emirates are basically non-starters,” he furthered.

But despite the speculation, there is little to really weigh in on, as Gushin pointed out.
“As of now they haven’t announced their legislation,” he notes.

Industry analyst Daniel Cheng furthered the idea, noting that “I haven’t seen any skeleton of regulatory rules”.

Daniel Cheng, Hardrock International
Daniel Cheng, Senior Gaming Analyst

The UAE has taken decisive steps, however, to go ahead with casino legislation, setting up the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA), headed by former MGM CEO Jim Murren.

While Umansky notes that Murren’s appointment is largely to act as a “figurehead”, he notes that other individuals hired by the UAE “are actual serious regulators”, while Cheng notes that “the market has been putting a lot of faith on Jim Murren’s position and background”.

But what form of an integrated resort can be expected out of Wynn Al Marjan Island?

For Umansky, the property is likely to “look more like it does in Las Vegas than it does in Macau”. This means more focus on non-gaming – including F&B, nightclubs etc.

But regarding the casino itself, and its clientele, “the risk is that it backfires,” notes Umansky, noting that casino visitation by Arab Muslims far from home – such as in London  – is much different from “doing it next door”.

That means that “the market will rely on local expats, but what is their propensity to gamble?” questions the analyst.

One certainty, according to Umansky is that Chinese gamblers will not be flowing into Wynn Al Marjan Island.

“This will be more of a destination market and will be more of a non-gaming market, which makes it very different from the markets in Asia,” he opines.

Wynn Al Marjan Island is predicted to open in early 2027.

Wynn Al Marjan, UAE
Wynn Al Marjan Island construction as of May 1, 2024
Kelsey Wilhelm
Kelsey Wilhelmhttps://agbrief.com
Kelsey Wilhelm is a broadcast, print journalist and editor based in Asia for over 15 years. Focused on content creation, management, cross-cultural exchange and interviews for multi-lingual productions. Writing focus on gaming, business, politics, culture and heritage, events and celebrities, subcultures, music, film, art and fashion. Some of Kelsey's specialties are: editing, writing, copy creation, multi-lingual content production, cross-cultural exchange, content creation and management for Asian markets.

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