Wynn Resorts said plans to build an integrated resort in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are progressing fast and that the casino is shaping up to be larger than the group’s Las Vegas operations.
The resort, which is being built on Al-Marjan island, will be the first legal gaming facility in the UAE. Wynn announced plans for the resort in January this year. It has partnered with master developer, Marjan and RAK Hospitality for the project and hired HKS Architects for the design and concept.
Speaking on the group’s 3Q22 earnings call on Wednesday, CEO Craig Billings said Wynn had a unique opportunity in the UAE, given the resort is being built on a man-made island.
“Given that it’s a man-made island without any existing development, it’s an incredibly flexible location on which to plan,” he said. “For example, if you want to move a beach, you move a beach. So it’s a really exciting project.”
Billings said he expects to share renderings and plans in early 2023 and to begin driving piles for the foundation by the middle of next year.
When announcing plans earlier this year, Wynn said the resort would include a luxury hotel of more than 1000 rooms, a high-end shopping esplanade, state-of-the-art meetings and convention facility, an exclusive spa, more than 10 dining experiences and lounges, a wide array of entertainment choices, gaming area, and other amenities.
UAE eyes tourism development
Al Marjan Island is only 15 minutes from the Ras Al Khaimah International Airport and 45 minutes from the Dubai International Airport.
In terms of the casino, Billings said it’s “shaping up to be somewhat larger than Wynn Las Vegas, but with numerous pockets of energy and compression.”
“When you think about a market like that where for some period of time you will be the only operator, you certainly don’t want to underbuild the casino, but you want to maintain that sense of energy,” he said.
The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority also earlier this year announced a new division that would focus on integrated resorts as the UAE opens up to legal gambling.
The framework is expected to be modelled along the lines of the one adopted in Singapore, which is often touted as the gold-standard for casino regulation in Asia.
Citizens of the UAE won’t be permitted to enter the casino.
The UAE is seeking to develop its tourism market, with Dubai acting as a key global hub drawing in visitors from Asia, Europe and Africa.
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