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MGM Casino in Dubai: we'll have to wait and see

Guillaume Giroux on February 16, 2024

The Island is an artificial island project sponsored by Wasl, a Dubai government entity. The MGM Group, which owns the most famous casinos in Las Vegas, is to build 3 hotels on the island. The intention was clearly to integrate casinos into the development, but it seems that this is not so simple. Explanations.

MGM's project for Dubai

Las Vegas-based MGM Group plans to build three luxury hotels on The Island. Located near the Burj Al Arab on Jumeirah, The Island is a man-made island ideally situated in the heart of Dubai. Bellagio, MGM Grand and Aria, the well-known Las Vegas hotels, are to have their counterparts in Dubai. The total value of the transaction for the American Group would be in excess of 2.5 billion dollars.

No green light from authorities for casino opening

At the time of writing (16/02/2024), the authorities have not issued a license to the MGM Group to operate gambling activities within its future Dubai hotels. Will this jeopardize the GMG Group's plans to set up operations in Dubai? It would appear not. Indeed, Bill Hornbuckle, CEO of the MGM Group, has declared that the project will go ahead even without prior approval to open a casino. But count on him and his teams to continue their lobbying of local authorities over the past few years. Operating luxury hotels in Dubai can be a lucrative business, but there's no comparison with the hotel-casino double act. The MGM Group is listed on the stock exchange, and the CEO will have to answer to his shareholders, who are keen to reap maximum profits...

A favor from Dubai to Ras Al Khaimah?

It's a difficult question for us to answer. The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has made casino development its main focus. The government of the United Arab Emirates is keen to accelerate development in areas other than Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The opening of casinos in Dubai would severely penalize Ras Al Khaimah in the short and medium term, and could drive investors away from the northern emirate. 

Casinos in Abu Dhabi rather than Dubai?

We know that Yas Island is already home to a host of attractions. Amusement parks, water parks, shopping malls, a Formula 1 circuit, a golf course, Yas Island could well have its own casino in the years to come. At least, that's what MGM's management is thinking, and they may well open an establishment in the capital of the Emirates, just in case...

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