Wynn to Lean on Chinese Customers to Boost UAE Casino-Hotel

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Wynn Resorts will rely on familiar clientele to kick-start its integrated resort in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) when the venue opens in early 2027: Chinese customers.

Al-Marjan Island in the UAE. Wynn’s planned integrated resort there will rely on Chinese customers and other Wynn loyalists. (Image: FOX Business)

The operator will also likely lean into its database of other loyal patrons to support the $3.9 billion Wynn Al Marjan Island in its infancy. The integrated resort, one of the largest in the UAE, will be in Ras Al Khaimah. That’s an hour away from Dubai — one of the Middle East’s leading financial and tourist hubs.

The UAE hasn’t previously focused on luring Chinese visitors, but Raki Phillips, chief executive officer of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, told Bloomberg that’s changing. Wynn could be the ideal partner to attract more Chinese tourists to the region.

The Las Vegas-based gaming giant operates two casino hotels in Macau — Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace. Additionally, Wynn Las Vegas and neighboring Encore have long histories of catering to patrons from the world’s most populous country.

Wynn Loyalty Could Pay Dividends in UAE

Whether it’s Chinese clients or those from other parts of the world, Wynn customers are usually fiercely loyal to the operator.

That’s one reason the company has proven successful with a relatively small portfolio of properties. In addition to the aforementioned Las Vegas and Macau venues, Wynn’s only other established gaming venue is Encore Boston Harbor.

The loyalty of Wynn patrons, Chinese and otherwise, is recognized in the investment community. For example, the operator had a market capitalization of $12.41 billion today at the close of US markets. That’s about 33% over Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR), which operates more than nine times the number of casinos as does Wynn.

Additionally, Wynn has experience leveraging its database to support a new venue. The $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor debuted in June 2019 and endured a multi-month closure the following year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Today, that venue is the dominant integrated resort in New England and one of the top-grossing regional casinos in the US.

Wynn UAE Success Could Benefit Industry At Large

Wynn Al Marjan Island will be the first regulated casino in the Arab world, but gaming will not be the centerpiece of the luxury resort. On that note, it must be pointed out that UAE officials have yet to formally approve gaming and a related regulatory body hasn’t been formed as of yet.

Wynn and its partners are taking steps to ease concerns. The plan is for the Wynn Al Marjan Island casino to occupy just 4% of the property’s 5.6 million square feet. Even at that diminutive percentage, the UAE casino will be bigger than the operator’s Las Vegas gaming areas.

Wynn’s UAE effort is also stoking interest among rivals. Phillips told Bloomberg there have been queries from “every brand that you can imagine” regarding other casino operators looking to establish themselves in the UAE.

Currently, Caesars and MGM Resorts International are developing non-gaming hotels in the region. However, that could give them a leg up if the region decides to broadly liberalize gaming laws.

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