One of the United Arab Emirates’ seven sheikhdoms said Tuesday that it would legalize “gaming” as part of a multibillion-dollar contract with Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas.
Ras al-declaration Khaimah’s comes after months of speculation about gambling coming to the United Arab Emirates, including skyscraper-studded Dubai and oil-rich Abu Dhabi. Gambling is forbidden in Islam, the Arabian Peninsula’s religion.
While the other emirates have yet to make similar announcements, Caesars Palace already has a massive resort in Dubai — without gambling.
Initially, a joint statement from Wynn Resorts and Ras Al-Khaimah officials merely mentioned “gambling” without going into further detail. The Tourism Development Authority of the emirate frequently refused to answer queries from The Associated Press about whether “gaming” included monetary wagering.
A spokesman for Wynn Resorts Ltd., Michael Weaver, referred questions to Ras Al-Khaimah regulators. Wynn Resorts, on the other hand, has resorts constructed around its casino floors in Las Vegas, Macau, and Massachusetts.
Wynn Resorts Reaches An Agreement With The UAE
Wynn Resorts said it reached an agreement with Ras Al-Khaimah for “the development and subsequent administration of an integrated resort” in a report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday. The phrase “integrated resort” was used in Singapore to describe a hotel with a casino and other attractions.
Following the announcement, Wynn’s stock rose nearly 2% to $86.46 per share in trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market on Tuesday. The coronavirus epidemic has wreaked havoc on the gambling sector as a whole.
Ras Al-Khaimah is the UAE’s northernmost emirate, a federation in which each emirate’s authoritarian ruler wields broad powers. “The top of the tent,” as Ras Al-Khaimah is known, “Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi rules the country, which is well known for its namesake RAK Ceramics enterprise.
Ras Al-Khaimah, on the other hand, has been working for years to enhance its reputation in the tourism sector, which is dominated by Dubai. It attracts visitors from India, Russia, the UK, and Egypt. It boasts permissive drinking laws and a beach resort region, as well as advertisements for outdoor activities surrounding Jebel Jais, the country’s highest peak at 1,934 meters (6,345 ft) above sea level.
The Wynn Resorts development will comprise roughly 1,000 hotel rooms, a mall, a convention center, restaurants, and a “gaming area” on Ras al-artificial Khaimah’s Al-Marjan Island.
Wynn Resorts’ entry into the UAE, according to J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff, would mean “The UAE’s local population of 9 million people, which includes a large number of international employees, would benefit from considerable foreign direct investment.”
Where Else Are Casinos?
In the rest of the Middle East, casinos are only found in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia.
Casinos have long been reported as a means for the UAE to collect funds and improve its tourist business, notably in Dubai, which is home to long-haul airline Emirates. Those traveling through Dubai International Airport are already bombarded by duty-free automobile raffles.
Dubai’s casino ambitions were “put on hold owing to respect” to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the country’s first president after unification in 1971, according to a 2004 U.S. diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks.
However, speculations concerning casinos have grown in recent years. After more than $100 million in refurbishment, the Queen Elizabeth 2 reopened as a hotel in Dubai in 2018. The disabled slot machines are still on board. Caesars opened in 2018 as well. Projects for casino companies MGM, the Bellagio, and Aria are now under construction.
On the other hand, the vast amount of money casinos generate increases the risk of money laundering. US-sanctioned war profiteers, terror financiers, and drug traffickers have already utilized Dubai’s real-estate market as a safe haven for their assets.
Ras Al-Khaimah has also been related to the case of an Alaskan man who allegedly laundered $1 billion for Iran in South Korea.
Last Updated on by Ryan