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The United Arab Emirates (UAE), traditionally against casino gaming, is poised to transform into a hub for up to four casino resorts. This shift was highlighted by MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Hornbuckle at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. He discussed MGM's ongoing Dubai project with Wasl Asset Management Group, mentioning a potential space for a casino within their development.

MGM has already earmarked 150,000 square feet at this Dubai site for a possible casino, pending UAE government approval. The project, featuring MGM, Bellagio, and Aria brands, reflects the country's gradual opening to the idea of integrated resorts with gaming facilities.

In 2021, Wynn Resorts announced its Wynn Al Marjan Island project in Ras Al Khaimah, expected to open in 2027, with unclear prospects about including a casino. The UAE's growing interest in casino gaming is further evidenced by the recent establishment of its first gaming regulatory body, the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA), chaired by former MGM CEO Jim Murren.

Hornbuckle expressed eagerness to operate a casino in Dubai, emphasizing a progressive and optimistic outlook towards the UAE's gaming future. He also mentioned that MGM is prepared for various operational scenarios, including equity ownership or leasing arrangements in potential gaming venues.

A recent survey by Knight Frank indicated strong expectations for gaming venues in Abu Dhabi (59% of respondents) and Dubai (58%), with potential for integrated resorts across the other emirates. The UAE, home to vast oil reserves and a significant sovereign wealth fund, is strategically positioning itself to diversify its economy through these developments, signaling a major shift in its approach to tourism and entertainment.