Featured in this article:
  • Gambling currently illegal in UAE
  • Wynn's Ras Al Khaimah resort to have gaming capability
  • UAE could relax gambling rules to help attract tourists

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Gambling in UAE could soon be legalized as Wynn plans to build a new resort

Legalized gambling in the United Arab Emirates may soon get the green light after Wynn announced it will build a luxury resort in Ras Al Khaimah that features a “gaming area”.

Hotel and casino operator Wynn has been seeking to invest further afield than the United States and Macau recently, and has struck a deal to build a mega complex in the Gulf state.

Gambling is currently illegal in the Muslim country but regulations may be loosened.

Dubai already hosts a Caesars-operated hotel in the region, while MGM Resorts are building three hotels on a man-made outcrop in the Persian Gulf.

None of these entities currently facilitate gambling. But according to Reuters, the Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) said this week that it has created a new Department of Entertainment and Gaming Regulation to regulate “integrated resorts”.

Integrated resorts are usually those with hotels and casinos under the same roof, and RAKTDA explained how the new department will oversee “the responsible practice of recreational gaming at all levels”.

Wynn Resort Facts

  • 1000 luxury hotel rooms
  • 10 restaurants
  • Spa
  • Convention facility
  • Shopping venue
  • Gaming area

Exactly what it means by “gaming” remains to be seen, but the expectation is that the UAE will relax its laws on gambling for specific licences – most likely found in casino resorts such as the one Wynn could develop.

The Wynn resort is scheduled to be built by 2026 on the Al Marjan man-made island that sits off the coast of Ras Al Khaimah.

“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,” said Abdulla al-Abdooli, chief executive of Marjan, the master-developer of freehold property in Ras Al Khaimah in a statement.

The UAE is one of six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states that currently bans gambling.

Yet legal reforms in the country aimed at making it a more tourist-friendly vacation destination have recently been undertaken.

This includes a more relaxed attitude to alcohol consumption and premarital sexual relations. Whether it one-day stretches to a regulated gambling industry, we will have to wait and see.

Where Is Ras Al Khaimah?

Ras Al Khaimah is an emirate of the UAE that it situated in the north eastern tip of the country.

It is the sixth largest city in the UAE and is less well known than Dubai or Abu Dhabi. It is estimated around 100,000 tourists visit Ras Al Khaimah every year – 1% of the number of visitors to New York.

Ras Al Khaimah is a 90-minute drive from Dubai and has its own international airport.

Joseph Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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