UAE sets up gaming regulator, led by US industry veterans

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates has set up a federal entity to regulate gaming and hired veterans of the U.S. gambling industry to lead it, state news agency WAM said.

Years-long speculation that the UAE would allow gambling - illegal across the conservative Gulf region - was put to rest when it was announced that Ras Al Khaimah, one of the UAE's seven emirates, was set to open a roughly $3.9 billion Wynn Resort featuring a casino.

The moves to allow gambling are against a backdrop of intensifying economic competition in the Gulf, especially with Saudi Arabia. The UAE has introduced a raft of liberal legal reforms as it tries to maintain its edge as the region's trade, tourism and financial hub.

The General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority's chairman is Jim Murren and chief executive is Kevin Mullally, WAM said.

"With my experienced colleagues, I look forward to establishing a robust regulatory body and framework for the UAE's lottery and gaming industry," WAM quoted Mullally as saying.

Mullally was at Gaming Laboratories International for more than 17 years, according to his LinkedIn profile. Before that, he was executive director of the Missouri Gaming Commission that regulates riverboat gambling. Murren was chairman and chief executive of MGM Resorts International from 2008 to 2020, according to his LinkedIn profile.

"The GCGRA will create a socially responsible and well-regulated gaming environment, ensuring that all participants adhere to strict guidelines and comply with the highest standards. It will coordinate regulatory activities, manage licensing nationally and facilitate unlocking the economic potential of commercial gaming responsibly," WAM said.

(Reporting by Yousef Saba; Editing by Alex Richardson)