UAE Approves the Creation of a Gaming Regulator

September 20th, 2023: Can we expect some forms of regulated gambling in the United Gambling? We can expect changes in the UAE’s gambling landscape if we rely on the latest news about creating a new gaming authority. According to recent news, the government has created the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA), a federal entity to regulate gaming operations, including lottery.

As a newly created federal authority, it will potentially regulate lottery and other forms of commercial gaming. The GCGRA creation is a potential indicator of the possible legalization of casino operations in the Gulf Arab nation. Still, no other details were provided regarding the federal entity’s structure or operations. This federal entity’s recent creation helps unlock the UAE’s economic potential for the commercial gaming and tourism industry. 

US gambling industry veterans to lead GCGRA

In the UAE, casino gambling remains illegal, but the creation of GCGRA strengthens the speculation on legalizing gambling. It has paved the way for casinos in gambling with the launch of this new gaming regulator. 

Another indicator that the UAE would possibly allow gambling is the announcement of Ras Al Khaimah, the northernmost emirate, to open Wynn Resort. This multibillion-dollar deal integrates a casino and other amenities within the Las Vegas-based casino giant. Wynn Resort, soon to open in 2027, will feature a luxury hotel, shopping malls, exclusive spas, restaurants, casinos, and other entertainment choices.  

Meanwhile, the UAE has selected the gambling industry veterans of the US to lead the regulating body. Jim Murren takes the position as Chairman of the federal entity,  said in a news by the Emirates News Agency (WAM).  Kevin Mullally, former Missouri Gaming Commission executive director, was hired as the CEO of the entity.

Mr. Mullally is delighted with this appointment and stated that with his work with experienced colleagues, he “looks forward to establishing a robust regulatory body and framework for the UAE‘s lottery and gaming industry.” Based on his LinkedIn profile, Mullally chaired MGM Resorts International from 2008 to 2020. He was also part of the Gaming Laboratories International for several years.  

Well-regulated and Social Responsible Gaming Environment

Besides Egypt and Lebanon, casino operators are still rare to find across most areas of the Middle East due to prohibition in Islam. Legalizing casinos in the UAE can potentially aid in boosting the industry while creating responsible, licensed, and well-regulated gaming activities. 

WAM said, “The GCGRA will create a socially responsible and well-regulated gaming environment, ensuring that all participants adhere to strict guidelines and comply with the highest standards. It will coordinate regulatory activities, manage licensing nationally, and facilitate unlocking the economic potential of commercial gaming responsibly.” 

Creating a federal regulating entity suggests that Abu Dhabi will run the potential operation of casinos. But, the efforts to allow gambling are a challenge to the intensifying economic competition in the Gulf. Positively, legalizing casinos in the UAE could help improve its tourism industry and recover after the coronavirus pandemic. With rumors of generating money in the UAE through casino operations and the national lottery, GCGRA creation is a big step forward. 

UAE hosts a thriving leisure and entertainment industry

Last year, Wynn Resorts announced a deal to build a luxury resort in Ras Al Khaimah, with provisions for a ‘gaming area’. The company did not specify whether this new development will include gambling. Still, in a shareholders’ meeting recently, Craig Billings, the CEO of Wynn Hotels, shared to shareholders that this resort expects to get a gaming operators license ‘soon’.