Genting Group Eyes UAE for Potential Casino Resort Development

Genting Group Chairman Lim Kok Thay has revealed the conglomerate’s interest in developing an integrated casino resort (IR) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This interest comes as the UAE considers legalizing gambling.

At a Genting Singapore annual meeting on April 18, Lim discussed the company’s future expansion plans. He mentioned that an international tender for a casino-only development in the Middle East is unlikely. The minutes from the meeting, published in a stock exchange filing on May 17, highlighted Genting’s openness to leveraging its experience in non-gaming offerings for a potential IR project in the UAE.

Lim responded to shareholder inquiries about expansion into new markets like Thailand and the UAE by stating, “The company would be happy to work on an IR development in the Middle East, leveraging the company’s experience in non-gaming offerings.”

UAE’s Evolving Gaming Landscape

The UAE established a federal body in 2023 to regulate the gaming industry, signaling a possible shift in its strict gambling laws. Currently, under Islamic, or Shariah law, gambling is prohibited, with violators facing fines or imprisonment. However, the potential legalization of casinos marks a significant shift.

Bloomberg reported in November that Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah are at the forefront of the push to introduce casinos, while Dubai has temporarily shelved its gambling plans. Possible locations in Abu Dhabi include Yas Island, famous for its Yas Marina Formula One Circuit and various theme parks, and a site near the city’s port.

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In Ras Al Khaimah, Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts began construction in 2023 on a $3.9 billion integrated resort, slated to open in 2027. Wynn has indicated the project will feature “gaming,” though specifics have not been disclosed by the Ras Al Khaimah government.

According to a May 14 report by Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Angela HanLee and Lea El-Hage, the UAE’s casino market could potentially exceed Singapore’s in terms of revenue. This prediction underscores the significant economic impact that legalized gambling could have in the region.

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