UAE Gears Up to Join the Global iGaming Arena

حسن خالد
September 5, 2023
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uae regulates igaming

Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Brace yourselves, gamesters and punters! The United Arab Emirates has taken a monumental leap forward in the commercial gaming landscape by officially announcing the birth of the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA). And guess what? This isn’t just another rubber-stamp institution; it’s got industry heavyweights at the helm.

Why Is This a Big Deal?

Well, for starters, this could redefine the entertainment and economic landscape of not just the UAE but also the broader Gulf region. Until now, gambling has been a no-go in the conservative Gulf. But things are shaking up. Amidst fierce economic competition, particularly with Saudi Arabia, the UAE isn’t just sitting back. Instead, it’s rolling the dice to maintain its clout as the Gulf’s top dog for trade, tourism, and finance. Entering the online Arabic casino scene will be a groundbreaking move in the Gulf region.

Who’s Running the Show?

The authority couldn’t be in better hands. Kevin Mullally, who previously led Missouri’s Gaming Commission and clocked 17 years at Gaming Laboratories International, has stepped in as the CEO. He’s joined by Jim Murren, former CEO of MGM Resorts, who will serve as the chairman of the board. Both bring years of expertise to ensure that the UAE creates a “fit-for-purpose” and socially responsible gaming environment.

What’s On The Cards?

The million-dollar—or should we say billion-dollar—question remains: what will the regulations look like? While we’re still a bit in the dark about the exact specifics, it seems iGaming could very much be part of the picture. Consulting firms like GLI and Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, who are assisting in the creation of the regulatory framework, have a digital footprint. Could this mean we’re looking at not just physical but also online casinos? Only time will tell.

Taxes and Revenues

Preliminary whispers suggest a 25% revenue tax on mass-market gambling and a cushier 8% for premium gaming. This could mean serious cash for the government coffers. Some even speculate that the UAE could bring in an eye-watering $6.6 billion in gaming revenue annually. That’s a lot of chips on the table!

The Wynn Connection

Let’s not forget that Wynn Resorts (WYNN) has big plans for a $3.9 billion development in Ras Al Khaimah, a venture that GCGRA will most likely oversee. CEO Craig Billings hinted that they expect their license “imminently.” This brings in another level of intrigue as to how this federal model will interact with individual emirates and their licensing plans.

Risks Involved?

The love affair with gaming does come with its headaches. The UAE has to tread cautiously, especially since it already has a bit of a rep for money laundering in the real estate sector. Safety measures will need to be robust to avoid the casinos becoming havens for dirty money.

Final Thoughts

If the UAE plays its cards right, it could not only offer a fresh playground for gambling enthusiasts but also substantially fuel its economy. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves; there’s a long road ahead filled with legislation and regulations. But one thing’s for sure: the stakes have never been higher, and the UAE is all in!

Author حسن خالد

حسن خالد، أحد المراجعين في casinoarabie.com، يقود جهود استكشاف عالم الكازينوهات العربية عبر الإنترنت. بخبرته الطويلة في صناعة الألعاب عبر الإنترنت، يقدم حسن رؤية جديدة للعديد من المشغلين الذين يسعون لتأسيس أنفسهم في العالم العربي. على عكس معظم كتاب المحتوى الدوليين في مجال الألعاب عبر الإنترنت، يتمتع حسن بفهم كبير للتحديات والفرص المتعلقة بألعاب الكازينو عبر الإنترنت في الدول الناطقة بالعربية. لذلك هو يتولى مسؤولية الرؤية التحريرية لموقع .casinoarabie.com