The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is showing signs of moving towards the introduction of casinos, as the new General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA) continues to expand. Recently, they added Ed Aylward, a retired Missouri lawman, to their ranks. Aylward, who served for 30 years with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, will be taking on the role of Head of Investigations at the GCGRA.
The GCGRA is the primary authority responsible for governing gambling activities in the UAE. It has been discreetly expanding its workforce, hiring individuals such as Ian Tannock, former Head of Responsible Gaming for JOI Gaming Ltd in the Netherlands, and Myriam Dimitri, the Head of Talent Management, Acquisition, and Organization Design. These recent additions are part of an effort to build a strong regulatory body for gambling activities in the UAE.
Jim Murren, former CEO of MGM Resorts International, now serves as the chairman of the board of the GCGRA, with Kevin Mullally as its CEO. Mullally, who previously served as the executive director of the Missouri Gaming Commission, likely crossed paths with Aylward during his time at the commission.
In the emirate of Dubai, there has been speculation about the potential introduction of casinos. Reports suggest that MGM could have been the first casino operator in Dubai, however, those plans were put on hold. In the meantime, other emirates, such as Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah, have been moving forward with their casino plans.
Recent reports indicate that Dubai is aligning itself with China. Wasl Hospitality and Leisure has awarded a significant construction contract to a Chinese real estate development firm, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), to build out The Island, a project that is speculated to include MGM, Bellagio, and Aria hotel brands. The contract, valued at ARD4.4 billion, is the largest awarded in Dubai in five years.
CSCEC, the world’s largest construction company, has been involved in various global projects, and has also faced controversies and scandals in the past. Regardless, the move to align with a Chinese firm for a major development project indicates the potential for significant growth and partnerships in the UAE.