Genting Chairman Lim Eyes UAE Casino Market


Genting Group is now among the global gaming giants considering entry into the United Arab Emirates (UAE), pending the approval of casino resorts there.

During the company’s annual meeting last month, Chairman Lim Kok Thay informed Genting Singapore shareholders that the UAE might be included in the operator’s integrated resort (IR) expansion plans, alongside potential developments in Thailand.

Genting Singapore, a subsidiary of Malaysia-based Genting Bhd, operates Resorts World Sentosa, one of the two casino resorts in Singapore. Lim noted that it is still uncertain which branch of Genting would seek a UAE license.

No Expectation for UAE Casino Tenders

Lim indicated that an international tender specifically for a casino-only development in the UAE is unlikely. This suggests that if casino gaming is approved, operators would likely pursue integrated resort plans similar to those of Wynn Resorts.

Wynn Resorts, for example, is known for its robust non-gaming offerings, which could appeal to UAE regulators. Wynn’s UAE venue is projected to cover 5.6 million square feet, with the casino occupying only 4% of that space, aligning with anticipated regulatory requirements that casinos not dominate the integrated resorts.

Currently, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah are the emirates most likely to approve casinos, while Dubai, the UAE’s luxurious tourist hub, seems hesitant to adopt Las Vegas-style gaming venues.

Prospects and Uncertainties for UAE Casinos

For Genting, entering the UAE market could be advantageous, as some estimates suggest that the casino market there could eventually surpass Singapore’s. Resorts World Sentosa, which operates in a duopoly with Las Vegas Sands’ Marina Bay Sands, is one of Genting’s major revenue sources.

However, there are still many uncertainties for any operator considering the UAE. Although the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA), the UAE’s first gaming regulatory body, was established over nine months ago, there has been no clear timeline for when gaming licenses will be awarded or what the process will entail.

Expectations are that this situation could change before the end of the year, with the first casino permit potentially being granted to Wynn, giving it a competitive advantage in the UAE market.

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