The United Arab Emirates has established a federal body to regulate the gaming industry, paving the way for the country to potentially become the first Gulf state to legalise casinos.
The new authority is being set up to introduce a “world-leading regulatory framework” for a national lottery and commercial gaming, state media reported late on Sunday. The move comes about a month after Wynn Resorts Ltd., which is building a $3.9 billion gaming resort in the UAE, said it expects to “soon” obtain a licence.
The regulator’s board will be chaired by Jim Murren, the former chief executive officer of MGM Resorts International, WAM said. Kevin Mullally, who has close to three decades of experience in the gaming industry, will be the chief executive officer of the new entity, which will coordinate regulatory activities and manage licensing nationally.
Earlier this year, senior government officials told Bloomberg there are no imminent plans to allow gambling, but casino operators, consultants and lawyers familiar with the matter say there have been early discussions and a change is being considered.
The stakes are high. The UAE could pull in as much as $6.6 billion of gaming revenue annually and eventually surpass Singapore, home to the renowned Marina Bay Sands resort, according to Angela Hanlee, a senior gaming and hospitality analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.