United Arab Emirates names chief executive for new gambling regulator

The UAE is expected to become the first Arab country with legal gambling.
The UAE is expected to become the first Arab country with legal gambling.

The General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA) will be led by US gaming veterans.

United Arab Emirates.- State media in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reported that the government has formed a gambling regulator as it prepares to become the first Arab nation with legal gambling. It’s reported that the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA) will govern commercial gaming and lotteries.

The government has named Kevin Mullally, a veteran of US gambling regulation, as the GCGRA’s chief executive. He spent 13 years at the Missouri Gaming Commission (MGC), serving as its executive director from 2000 to 2006. He then spent 17 years at Gaming Laboratories International (GLI), serving as general counsel, director of government relations and later vice president of government relations and general counsel.

Other appointments include former MGM Resorts International general director Jim Murren as chair. Murren joined MGM in 1998, served as chief financial officer, chief operating officer and finally CEO and chairman from 2008 to 2020.

Mullally said: “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.”

It is not yet clear what forms of gambling will be legalised in the UAE. It’s expected that land-based casino resorts will be permitted, with Dubai the most obvious location as the country’s biggest tourist destination. The GCGRA will also regulate lottery.

However, it is not yet known if sports betting or online casino could also be permitted. The UAE is a prominent location for horse racing, hosting the Dubai World Cup, and for motorsports, hosting the Formula One Dubai Grand Prix.

MGM Resorts has done business with the UAE in the past. Its CityCentre project on the Las Vegas strip began as a joint venture with UAE government investment vehicle Dubai World. MGM bought out Dubai World’s 50 per cent in 2021. During Murren’s period at the helm, MGM also invited in the construction of hotels in Dubai.

Murren said: “I am delighted at the appointment of Kevin Mullally. He brings unparalleled category experience and will be invaluable in creating a fit-for-purpose regulatory framework for the UAE.”

As well as MGM, Wynn Resorts has also been anticipating a move to legalise gambling in the UAE. It is already building a casino complex in Dubai.

See also: BetMGM launches in the UK

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gambling regulation Land-based casinos