Dubai’s Casino Plans Could Affect Wynn UAE

Hassan Khalid
June 6, 2024
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Dubai's Casino Plans Could Affect Wynn UAE

Wynn Resorts’ (NASDAQ: WYNN) plan to build a casino resort in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, might face challenges if Dubai decides to allow casino gaming, says an analyst.

At the recent G2E Asia conference in Macau, Seaport Research senior analyst Vitaly Umansky mentioned that the Wynn project could be at risk if Dubai permits regulated gaming. Dubai is the main tourist spot among the seven emirates, whereas Ras Al Khaimah is a smaller emirate without many economic advantages.

These comments came shortly after Umansky upgraded Wynn’s stock to “buy” from “hold,” with a target price of $116, suggesting a 26% increase from the June 4 closing price.

Umansky believes the market could support two large resorts, but the key risk is a casino opening in Dubai, which is more likely than in Abu Dhabi.

He also said that Wynn could earn up to $300 million a year from the UAE resort. Last month, the Las Vegas-based company confirmed it plans to spend about $900 million on the UAE project, making it a minority partner.

Uncertainty Over Dubai’s Casino Approval

Although Dubai is an attractive market for casinos, it is not certain that regulators will allow casino gaming there.

So far, there are no gaming regulations in the UAE, even though a governing body was formed last autumn. It is expected that each emirate will decide on casinos individually, with only Abu Dhabi and Dubai being likely options besides Ras Al Khaimah.

Umansky believes there will be a political agreement among the emirates, but smaller emirates are unlikely to start casinos. To this day, it is still more popular for Emiratis to play online casinos in UAE.

If Dubai approves an integrated resort, MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM), which is building a non-gaming hotel there, could benefit. MGM executives have said they are prepared to add a casino if regulators permit.

MGM is developing three hotels in the UAE and might open a casino in Abu Dhabi if allowed and if Dubai does not approve casinos.

Wynn UAE: More Like Las Vegas Than Macau

Wynn’s UAE resort, expected to open in early 2027, will be very large, but the casino will take up only a small part of its 5.6 million square feet.

The resort will resemble those in Las Vegas more than those in Macau, with a focus on luxury rooms, fine dining, and entertainment, rather than gambling. This is a smart move for the UAE, where gambling is often seen as taboo in the Arab world.

Umansky pointed out that for many Arab Muslims, there is a big difference between gambling in Europe or the US and doing it nearby.

Author Hassan Khalid

Hassan Khalid, a reviewer at casinoarabie.com, leads the effort to explore the world of Arab online casinos. With his long experience in the online gaming industry, Hassan brings a new vision to many operators seeking to establish themselves in the Arab world. Unlike most international content writers in the online gaming space, Hassan has a great understanding of the challenges and opportunities related to online casino gaming in Arabic-speaking countries. Therefore, he is responsible for the editorial vision of casinoarabie.com