March 15, 2024 2 min read


MGM Resorts Not Ready to Give Up on the UAE, Eyes Opportunities in Thailand Too

Hornbuckle discussed business opportunities in the UAE, Thailand and New York

MGM Resorts International’s chief executive officer, Bill Hornbuckle, commented on the company’s plans for the future at the JP Morgan Gaming, Lodging, Restaurant & Leisure Management Access Forum, highlighting opportunities in certain regions.

While MGM recently gave up on its Dubai casino plans recently, the company is still proceeding with its hotel offering. According to Hornbuckle, the property could easily shift its focus to gaming, should the UAE regulate gambling.

Overall, MGM Resorts is optimistic about the future of gaming in the UAE, which it considers to be a “fascinating” jurisdiction. In a discussion with JP Morgan’s Joseph Greff, Hornbuckle explained that the company would also be interested in exploring such opportunities in Abu Dhabi and other emirates but recognized that each Emirate’s ruler would have to approve that separately.

Hornbuckle added that he believes UAE wagering would likely start with a lottery in Abu Dhabi before pivoting to online gaming and the eventual launch of Wynn Resorts’ casino on Al Marjan Island.

The Operator Is Exploring Opportunities in Thailand

In the meantime, MGM Resorts is ready to explore opportunities in Thailand, Hornbuckle told Greff. This announcement comes in the wake of a Thai House of Representatives committee’s decision to push forward a report in support of casino gaming.

Hornbuckle added that MGM Resorts already has government relations agents in the South Asian country and would explore potential opportunities for a license, should the country legalize casino gaming.

In any case, Hornbuckle pointed out that the potential legalization of casinos in Thailand is still in its early stages. Despite that, many major companies are already exploring opportunities, eyeing sites and looking for partners.

MGM Is Well-Positioned in New York

In addition to potential markets, Hornbuckle commented on MGM’s existing operations in New York, where the company operates the Empire City racino. He believes that his company is also perfectly positioned to grab one of the three downstate casino licenses, allowing it to further expand its footprint.

The MGM CEO said that he hopes that the industry will receive an update on the licensing process this summer. He added that the industry is now waiting to receive its answers to the second round of questions.

Should MGM secure one of the coveted licenses, Hornbuckle teased that his team would begin work on the construction of a new casino by mid-2026.


Although Fiona doesn't have a long-spanning background within the gambling industry, she is an incredibly skilled journalist who has built a strong interest in the constantly growing iGaming network. The team at is glad to have her on our roster to help deliver the best stories as soon as they hit. Aside from writing, she loves to dabble in online casino games such as slots and roulette, both for her own enjoyment and also as research to better improve her understanding of the industry.

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