Dubai could become the Las Vegas of the Middle East after UAE leaders appointed a new gambling authority, speculating it would decriminalize gambling and allow a string of resort-style casinos .
As part of its efforts to triple tourism revenue, the UAE should put aside religious criticism and allow foreign investors to help build resorts where foreigners can play.
With its air-conditioned skyscrapers, 12-lane highways and desert landscapes, Dubai is already comparable to Nevada's Sin City. The sheikh's tax-free, money-driven lifestyle attracts international sports stars and oligarchs alike. Superyachts crowd its ports and petrol guzzlers dominate the highways of a city that, despite its humble origins, has become a playground for the rich.
And if the current gambling regulations If the situation were to change, Dubai could become the most populous city in Nevada. As of 2018, there is already a Caesars Palace, the only branch that does not offer gambling services, while MGM Resorts is building a 1,000-room, 200,000-square-foot hotel that its CEO says could be turned into a casino if the current situation one is ongoing. regulatory changes.
"It's an exciting time for the UAE," said Andrew Tottenham, managing director of international gaming consultancy Tottenham and Co., casually. sure that there are people who do not see this measure in a positive light."
Islam prohibits gambling and, according to current legislation, any bad luck gambling that occurs while gambling. If caught in the UAE, he could face up to two years in prison. According to industry experts, Emirati authorities are discussing reservations to make decriminalization more accessible to their religious critics, such as banning Emirati citizens from entering casinos.
This decision on the legalization of gambling "It is a natural step if you look at what Dubai has become," Tottenham said. The UAE is investing heavily in tourism as part of its ongoing diversification efforts, abandoning an oil-based economy in the face of competition from other growing Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia.
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Last year, tourism accounted for 9% of the Gulf state's GDP and generated 167 billion Emirati dirhams United Arab (£36 billion). By 2031, the government hopes to increase this figure to AED450 billion (£97 billion).
Tottenham said the introduction of a such a complex would be a good thing. This fits with the UAE's current model of attracting high-spending visitors. "There's a lot of richness in a four-hour flight," he said. “Dubai is already a destination. It is simply an extension of this strategy and will target the adult market. dollars (£4.76 billion), not far from the record $8.3 billion (£6.58 billion) raised on the Las Vegas Strip last year. "It's a great market," Tottenham said.
However, analysts warn that the comparison with Las Vegas may be inaccurate. "People fly to Las Vegas because it's Las Vegas," Tottenham said, "and people fly at eight, at 10, at midnight."
United Arab Emirates You may not get the same numbers and you may not want to get them.
Unlike Las Vegas, the UAE will likely be targeted by "people high profile." and high net worth," said Paul Girvan, CEO of PKC Gaming and Leisure Consultancy.
"There will be more table games than slot machines." Girvan also suspects that future casinos in the UAE may focus more on food and theater than on drinks and gambling.
A better comparison could be made with Singapore, which has legalized gambling by opening two casinos in high end in 2010: Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa Unlike the permissive gaming atmosphere promoted in Las Vegas, Singapore gamblers can be fined S$1,000 (£585) for smoking, and gamblers Local low-income gamblers can only participate a few times a week.
And there is no guarantee that Dubai will become the national gambling center In April this year, Wynn Resorts announced plans to build the first hotel in the history of the United Arab Emirates with gaming facilities. The $3.9 billion (£3.09 billion) resort is expected to open in 2027, not in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but in the small northern emirate of Ras al Khaima.
The complex will include a high-quality “shopping terrace”, an events center and a theatre. According to Wynn Resorts, the hotel's game room will take up just 4 percent of its total floor space. But in an interview with Reuters last year, Craig Scott Billings, the company's chief executive, said the hotel's casino "appears to be bigger than the Wynn Las Vegas."