In a first for the Gulf Arab area, where gambling has long been prohibited, hotel and casino operator Wynn Resorts will launch a casino at the opulent resort it is developing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to Chief Executive Craig Scott Billings.
The opening of the casino would be a turning point for the Gulf, which has historically enforced tougher Islamic laws than other regions of the Middle East.
The possibility of a new casino is set against the backdrop of fierce rivalry in the Gulf, with business and tourism center UAE competing with Saudi Arabia, which is quickly developing, to become the preferred location in a region that is diversifying its economy away from oil dependence.
Wynn Resorts to Open UAE Casino
When the Ras Al Khaimah emirate and Wynn revealed in January that the resort had a gaming license without mentioning gambling, it reignited discussions about opening casinos in other UAE emirates, including the heart of regional tourism Dubai.
In an earnings call on Wednesday, Billings confirmed the casino, which is scheduled to open in 2026 on a man-made island off the coast of Ras Al Khaimah.
According to online casino games experts, one of the smaller and less well-known of the seven UAE emirates is Ras Al Khaimah. Caesars Palace presently operates a resort in Dubai’s regional business district without a casino, while MGM Resorts International is developing a resort.