MGM hopes casino in Dubai plan: CEO

Casino resort developer and operator Bill Hornbuckle, chief executive and president of MGM Resorts International, spoke at an investment event in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he believed he could be granted permission to operate casinos.

We hope and believe that we can move forward with the developing resort project in Dubai, UAE, “in the future, including the maximum, and games.”

Although Mr Hornbuckle (file photo) added in his comments on the 2023 Bank of America Games and Accommodation Conference on Thursday: “I can’t talk about timing. I don’t know.”

The site of the plan is on the island of Porto in Jumeirah, a reclaimed land just north of the iconic Burj Al Arab Building.

Referring to the resort project, Mr Hornbuckle said: “It was initially designed as a hotel-only project. It is about 1,500 keys.”

He noted that the Dubai plan would “originally … deal with hotel management.”

The CEO said, “We started in 2015, long before the conversation began in casinos in the UAE.” He added, “We’re on the ground now with the pillars.”

Mr. Hornbuckle said, “We recently added a 150,000-square-foot [13,935-square-meter] platform. This could be either a casino or a retail store.”

The president of MGM Resorts said the group views Dubai as a “market opportunity in excess of $3 billion,” but he did not specify what that figure means. His group is the majority shareholder of MGM China Holdings Ltd., a Macau casino operator.

Mr Hornbuckle said the planned site for Dubai at MGM Resorts was managed by local wealth management group Wasl.

The CEO of MGM Resorts said, “The owner of this site is the ruler of the emirate, so it helps. It’s a group called Wasl. It’s part of his portfolio and holdings.”

“We especially hope and believe that we can partner with the ruler to move this project forward and even drive the game forward.

Mr Hornbuckle added: “We told them we were going to rent out the entire casino to hold a stake or give us the casino business.”

“I don’t know that they’re going to want to do the [Dubai] casino business … I think we’re going to end up renting a casino.”

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