MGM Resorts Awaits Regulatory Framework to Commence UAE Casino Development

As MGM Resorts, a global leader in gaming and entertainment, pursues development of its three hotel brands in Dubai, the company’s CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle has recently announced that the casino giant is now looking at the United Arab Emirates’ government to pass a gambling decree and enable MGM Resorts to seek a casino gaming license in either Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

Considering Casino Development in Abu Dhabi:

As reported by Inside Asian Gaming (IAG), Bill Hornbuckle revealed the company’s consideration of Abu Dhabi for a gaming-led development during an appearance at the J.P. Morgan Gaming, Lodging, Restaurant & Leisure Management Access Forum on 15 March 2024. MGM CEO reportedly said: “I think [the UAE] will start with lottery and go into digital gaming, and probably the actual first [casino] license will be issued in Abu Dhabi, followed potentially by what’s happening with Wynn in Ras Al Khaimah. Then we would hope either through an opportunity in Abu Dhabi or in Dubai, we will go after one – recognizing that the ruler, the leader in each emirate has to approve it. That is how that works.”

MGM Expecting Governmental Decree:

The development reportedly comes after MGM secured a 150,000-square-foot space in Dubai to develop hotel and casino resorts MGM, Bellagio and Aria.  As IAG reports, Hornbuckle added that the company and the legislature have made a significant progress in respect to the announced developments and that MGM expects to have its Middle East strategic position clarified in several months.

As reported, the CEO also said that MGM Resorts is working with the recently established General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority to outline a regulatory framework required for commercial gaming in the Emirates. According to IAG, Hornbuckle said that the project is moving forward and expects a more palpable progress after the Ramadan festive period.

UAE Government to Determine MGM’s Development Partner:

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It may be then that the gaming corporation will learn its development partner as well. MGM has already partnered with Wasl Asset Management Group for its Dubai development to gain experience about the situation on the ground and the decisive role of the government. Hornbuckle reportedly commented:  ““We’ve been on the ground there for over a year-and-a-half and we think we know who the development partner is – the government will appoint that development partner. They’ve reached out to us and asked for proposals. We’re in the process for that as I’m sure others are as we speak.”

IAG reports that MGM expects that the government will  identify a partner for MGM’s latest development still in the summer of 2024. The company also expects that the regulatory adjustments will follow immediately after and that the project may reportedly proceed ”very quickly from there.”

Pending New York License and Thai Development:

Hornbuckle reportedly used the Forum to discuss the progress of the company’s efforts to win a New York downstate casino license, as well as the MGM’s latest Thai development. According to IAG, the casino giant has already established the necessary compliance there to send its development staff on site.“Thailand is new, it’s early days,” CEO reportedly said. “The real question for all of us will be whether the regulatory regime is at a high enough level that it holds mustard lodi646 and will the government participate in the proper way going forward.”

As reported by IAG, Horbuckle added that MGM Resorts is still looking for the most suitable site and partners in the country to start from there. “We’re like everyone – there’s a host of the usual characters poking around, looking for sites and looking for partners,’‘ he said.