DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — One of the seven sheikhdoms in the United Arab Emirates said Tuesday it will allow “gaming” while announcing a multibillion-dollar deal with casino giant Wynn Resorts.
The announcement by Ras al-Khaimah comes after months of rumors about gambling coming to the UAE, home to skyscraper-studded Dubai and oil-rich Abu Dhabi. Islam, the religion of the Arabian Peninsula, prohibits gambling.
While the other emirates haven’t announced similar deals, casino operator Caesars Palace operates a massive resort already in Dubai.
Initially, a statement issued by Wynn Resorts and Ras al-Khaimah authorities only referred to “gaming,” without elaborating. The emirate’s Tourism Development Authority repeatedly declined to answer questions from The Associated Press on whether “gaming” involved cash betting.
However, a statement from the authority said a new gaming division would require “compliance with all applicable laws and regulations (including financial crime laws) from operators, suppliers and employees.” It also would “ensure responsible gaming at all levels.”
Gaming is often used as a euphemism for gambling in the United States.
Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts did not immediately respond to questions from the AP. Wynn stock traded at $84.80 at the close of business Monday on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
A statement on the deal, also posted to Wynn Resorts’ website, included repeated mentions of “gaming” facilities at the site.
“The newly announced integrated resort is still in its early design phase and due for completion by 2026,” a follow-up statement from Marjan, the Ras al-Khaimah developer involved in the deal, said. “These are all the details that can be provided at this stage.”
Ras al-Khaimah is the northern-most emirate in the UAE and has been trying to raise its profile for years in the tourism market, which is dominated by Dubai.