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UAE to emerge as the next gaming frontier: CBRE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) emerges as a promising domain for gaming aficionados and astute investors alike, according to CBRE Institutional Research.

Recently, CBRE Institutional Research’s equity and credit teams visited the UAE to delve deep into the burgeoning gaming landscape, unraveling its intricacies, and shaping a compelling investment narrative. Spanning across Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Ras Al Khaimah, their visit unveiled a region that appears ripe with potential and opportunity.

The UAE, renowned for its opulence and grandeur, boasts a robust tourism industry characterized by lavish expenditures and a penchant for luxury. This, coupled with a business-friendly environment and high-quality infrastructure, sets the stage for a gaming revolution unparalleled in the Middle East. The absence of significant gaming competition only amplifies the allure, painting a picture of vast, untapped potential waiting to be harnessed.

Diving deep into the heart of the UAE’s gaming landscape, investors are presented with a myriad of insights and opportunities. From regulatory developments to the total addressable market (TAM) for gaming, each facet offers a glimpse into the region’s promising future.

The wheels of commercial gaming regulation are already in motion, signaling an imminent arrival of gaming to the UAE. Anticipate a regulatory framework conducive to operators, with favorable terms regarding gaming tax, exclusivity, and licensing.

With a projected Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) TAM of $8.5 billion, fueled by a thriving tourism market and latent gaming demand, the UAE presents a tantalizing prospect for investors. However, supply constraints may temper the market’s growth trajectory.

Often overlooked, the margin potential in the UAE gaming sector is substantial, estimated to exceed 50 percent. This figure, surpassing consensus estimates, underscores the untapped profitability awaiting savvy investors.

Wynn Al Marjan, Wynn Resorts, UAE
Arrival view at Wynn Al Marjan Island

The inaugural Integrated Resort (IR), Wynn Al Marjan Island, promises to be a beacon of success in the UAE’s gaming landscape. Forecasts suggest significant GGR, robust non-gaming revenue, and substantial EBITDARM, painting a picture of financial prosperity for stakeholders.

For equity investors, avenues for UAE IR exposure abound, primarily through entities like Wynn Resorts. Meanwhile, debt investors may find select opportunities in this burgeoning market.

In summary, the UAE stands poised at the precipice of a gaming renaissance. With regulatory frameworks evolving, a lucrative market beckoning, and flagship ventures like Wynn Al Marjan Island paving the way, the UAE emerges as a beacon of opportunity in the global gaming arena.

Wynn Al Marjan, Wynn Resorts, UAE
Wynn Al Marjan Island construction as of May 1, 2024

As the gaming landscape continues to evolve, eyes turn towards the UAE—a veritable gaming frontier ready to be explored and conquered by bold investors seeking the next big opportunity.

Frank Schuengel
Frank Schuengel
Frank Schuengel is an online gambling industry veteran with over twenty years of experience in Europe and Asia. Equally at home in the Isle of Man and the Philippines, he started his career as a sports trader before setting up and running whole operations, and more recently focusing on the regulatory and licensing side of things in the worlds of fiat and crypto eGaming. When he is not writing about gambling topics, he can be found cycling around Manila and advocating sustainable transport solutions for a Philippines based mobility magazine.

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