International casino operator Wynn Resorts has entered into a deal to construct a new, 1,000+ room luxury resort on Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates, potentially opening the door for gambling to be permitted in the Gulf State.
The Ras Al Khaimah Tourist Authority has confirmed that a newly formed body, the Department of Entertainment & Gaming Regulation will “regulate the gaming activities within integrated resorts in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.” These new regulations will also cover marketing, advertising and financial transactions, “ensuring that these areas comply with the Department of Entertainment & Gaming Regulation.”
A statement from Wynn said: “The planned destination will feature a luxury hotel with more than 1,000 rooms, world-class shopping, state-of-the-art meeting and convention facility, an exclusive spa, more than 10 restaurants and lounges, extensive entertainment choices, a gaming area and other amenities,” adding that “the multibillion-dollar project is still in the initial design and development phase.”
All gambling-related activity are banned in the UAE and defined in its penal code as “games in which every party agrees to pay, in case of losing, to the other party, the winner, an amount of money or anything else agreed.” The penalties for operating any venue that is used for gambling, or organising a game of chance, are severe and include imprisonment for up to 10 years. But modernisation and increased social freedoms are very much on the agenda for a State in which as many as 80% of residents are foreign expatriates, it could be that a change of heart is just around the corner.