The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has established a federal authority tasked with overseeing the potential introduction of a national lottery and “commercial gaming.” This development signals the likelihood of the UAE opening up to gambling activities. As major casino operators express increasing interest in the Gulf Arab nation.
The state-run WAM news agency released an announcement late Sunday regarding the creation of the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority. However specific details about its structure and operations were not disclosed.
The authority has appointed Kevin Mullally as its CEO. Mullally has previously served as the executive director of the Missouri Gaming Commission. He is responsible for overseeing riverboat casinos in the U.S. state of Missouri.
In response to his appointment, Mullally stated, “I am delighted to have been appointed as the inaugural CEO of the GCGRA. With my experienced colleagues, I look forward to establishing a robust regulatory body and framework for the UAE’s lottery and gaming industry.”
Murren’s Prior Engagement with the UAE
Jim Murren has been named as the chairman of the authority’s board of directors. Media reports from Nevada, home to the renowned gambling city of Las Vegas. Moreover, identify Murren as a former chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, a major casino operator. Murren could not be reached for immediate comment by the AP.
Notably, Murren has had prior dealings with officials in the Emirates. The $9.2 billion CityCenter partnership between MGM Resorts International, under Murren’s leadership. Dubai World marked a significant development on the Las Vegas Strip in 2009. However, its Harmon tower faced construction defects and was eventually dismantled.
Murren also played a key role in Nevada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and sought to introduce UAE-donated, Chinese-made testing kits in the state. U.S. diplomats and security officials privately cautioned Nevada against using these kits due to concerns related to patient privacy. In addition to test accuracy, and Chinese government involvement.
UAE’s Gambling Speculation Over the Years
The newly established authority, as described by WAM, aims to “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 be responsible for coordinating regulatory activities, managing national licensing, and facilitating the responsible development of commercial gaming to unlock its economic potential.
For years, rumours have circulated about the potential introduction of casinos in the UAE. As a means of generating revenue and boosting the country’s tourism industry. Particularly in Dubai, home to Emirates, a prominent long-haul airline. However, Dubai International Airport already hosts duty-free car raffles.
In 2004, a U.S. diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks suggested that plans for casinos in Dubai had been put on hold due to deference to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s first president after unification in 1971. However, in recent years, speculation about the UAE’s readiness to embrace casinos has grown, with several casino-related projects and developments already underway in the country.