The Real Deal New York

Caesars casino company inks non-gambling deal in Dubai

Caesars Entertainment launches new licensing strategy in partnership with a local developer.
April 15, 2018 12:00PM

From left: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Mark Frissora. (Credit from left: World Economic Forum, Bernard Spragg, Caesars Entertainment)

Caesars Entertainment is playing a new game.

The casino company behind famous joints on the Las Vegas strip including, of course, Caesars Palace, is launching a new non-gambling venture — hopefully its first of many, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Caesars’ new hotels in Dubai, where gambling is illegal, will be done in partnership with local developer Meraas Holding, which is owned by Dubai’s royal family, the patriarch of which is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. Together, the companies will develop and operate two branded Caesars resorts on a man-made island, which is part of Meraas’ broader $2.2 billion mixed-use project, Bluewaters.

The deal comes as gambling revenues are falling across the casino industry and on the heels of Caesars’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, which wrapped up last fall. Going forward, the company is planning for licensing agreements comparable to the Meraas deal to account for up to 10 percent of its earnings.

“This is a good way for us to get into places that we haven’t been to,” Caesars’ chief executive Mark Frissora told the Journal. “The capital is paid out by someone else. They do the investment.”

MGM Resorts International is already making similar moves: the company is working on its own branded hotels in Dubai for opening in 2021 and already runs non-gambling operations in China. [WSJ]Erin Hudson