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Lottoland boss hails UAE move to set up gaming regulator

The Wynn resort and casino is set to open in 2027 on Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Kahaimah Wynn
The Wynn resort and casino is set to open in 2027 on Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Kahaimah
  • ‘Robust’ GCGRA to oversee industry
  • ‘Socially responsible’ gaming environment
  • First casino to open in RAK in 2027

The entrepreneur behind the global lottery betting platform Lottoland has described the UAE’s new gaming regulatory authority as “big news”.

David von Rosen-von Hoewel told AGBI that he looks forward to working with authorities to roll out lottery products in the UAE next year and beyond.

“The UAE now has the chance to build the most exciting lottery in the world,” he said. “It is an aspirational nation and any lottery should be developed to match this vibrant and future-facing country.”

Von Rosen was reacting to the UAE’s announcement that it has created a federal authority to introduce a regulatory framework for a national lottery and commercial gaming.

The General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA) has been established, signalling a further move towards allowing gambling in the country.

Kevin Mullally, who once served as the executive director of the Missouri Gaming Commission, has been appointed as CEO. He said he looked forward to “establishing a robust regulatory body and framework for the UAE’s lottery and gaming industry”.

While gambling is currently not allowed in the UAE, a number of sanctioned raffles are held by companies such as Mahzooz, formerly known as Emirates Loto, which offer multi-million dirham prizes.

The opening of casinos has however long been rumoured. Ras Al Khaimah will host the first when an 18,500 sq m casino opens in 2027 as part of the Wynn resort on Al Marjan Island.

Now, according to UAE news agency Wam, the GCGRA will create a “socially responsible and well-regulated” gaming environment and will manage licensing nationally to unlock the economic potential of commercial gaming.

It also named Jim Murren as the chairman of the authority. Murren is a former chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, which operates casinos. 

Last month Wynn Resorts CEO Craig Billings said the group expected its gaming licence for Ras Al Khaimah “imminently”.

Research from real estate consultant Knight Frank in June revealed the upcoming Wynn resort and casino would increase the likelihood of investing in property in the emirate for nearly a third of high net worth individuals surveyed.

While no other plans have been unveiled, 42 percent of respondents to the survey said they expect more casino plans to follow in the country. 

In June, Von Rosen told AGBI he was confident that he will one day be able to offer the service in the UAE, saying plans for the UAE’s first casino in Ras Al Khaimah were a clear signal that rules were softening.

Von Rosen, who has homes in Dubai and Switzerland, founded Lottoland in 2013. It allows customers to bet on the results of the biggest lotteries from around the world. 

The business is now licensed in 15 markets on five continents and serves more than 18 million customers.