The casino hotspots of Las Vegas and Macau could soon have another substantial rival in the United Arab Emirates after the Middle Eastern nation of almost 9.3 million people reportedly revealed that it intends to legalize gambling.

According to a Wednesday report from the Reuters news service, the move from the traditionally conservative country comes almost three months after American casino operator Wynn Resorts Limited detailed that it is planning to bring a multi-billion-dollar hotel venue to the northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

Destination dearth:

The news service reported that gambling afficionados in the Middle East currently have few options with Lebanon‘s Casino du Liban among the region’s very small group of casinos. However, the United Arab Emirates is purportedly looking to change its long-standing prohibition on such entertainment so as to attract more tourists and beat a march on nearby rivals including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Prominent players:

American behemoth Caesars Entertainment Incorporated opened its Caesars Palace Dubai property without a casino in 2018 although the firm’s Regional President, Anthony Costa, reportedly told Reuters that his company would examine any chance to bring gambling to the 495-room facility. This comes as fellow Las Vegas-headquartered MGM Resorts International is proceeding with a plan to bring Bellagio and MGM-branded hotels to the nearby Jumeirah Beach district.

Costa reportedly stated…

“That acceptance now that there is going to be the potential of gaming in the United Arab Emirates in whatever form it’s going to be allows people like us and MGM Resorts International as well to look at that closely. Like anybody, if a license is able to be bid for, any global gaming company is going to want to be actively involved in the conversation.”

Existing example:

Vitaly Umansky from global investments research firm Sanford C Bernstein Limited reportedly told the news service that the United Arab Emirates will likely shape any future gambling regulations around those already in place in conservative countries such as Singapore. The analysts moreover purportedly forecast that any subsequent casinos would more than likely be open only to foreign-born punters and have their offerings hidden away within the bowels of giant hotel complexes.

Reportedly read a statement from Umansky…

“Like Singapore, the United Arab Emirates is looking to gaming to help drive tourism and has allowed gaming to occur in an integrated resort format for just such purpose. The regulatory environment would be the kind that hides the casino, kind of like Singapore but even more so. It won’t be like Vegas where the casino is out there.”

Lucrative lottery:

Reuters reported that the United Arab Emirates, where foreigners make up 90% of the population, embarked on something of a path towards westernization in 2020 by premiering the national ‘Loto’ game. This innovation purportedly sees punters spend about $9.50 to buy a collectible picture of an iconic local scene in hopes of winning a lottery prize draw and taking home rewards that could reach as high as $2.7 million.