UAE Group Launches Casino Resort in Georgia with Fractional Ownership – Yours for $90K

Skift Take

Abu Dhabi group Rotana is trying its hand at a casino in Georgia, meanwhile, gaming is in the cards back home in the UAE.

Abu Dhabi hotel group Rotana has a casino project in the works, and investment in the resort is open to anyone, starting at US$89,400 for a hotel room.

Located in Georgia (the country not the U.S. state), the hotel is the first casino project launched by a UAE company – where gaming remains illegal.

The Pontus Rotana Resort & Spa was first announced in May 2023 but is now actively seeking investors – small and large – as it prepares to open in late 2026. Investors can buy single hotel rooms or multiple ones. There are 600 keys in total.

Rotana told Skift that the additional funds could be used by the owners – Pontus Capital – to develop two more Rotana properties in the country. Sales started at the end of last year, with 50 units sold in January 2024 and potentially 60 more in February, according to Rotana COO Eddy Tannous.

“A lot of the investors are just individuals, people who know Rotana well or are from the Middle East,” he said. “It’s a very successful model in that part of the world. [Investors] will use the asset themselves during holiday times but also have a return on investment. For the owners, it’s a cash injection from buying apartments. It lets them start other developments, possibly in Tbilisi and a ski resort. Sea, city and ski.

Founded in the early 1990s in the UAE, Rotana has become one of the country’s largest local hotel operators. The group has around 100 hotels and tends to open in markets appealing to Middle East travelers. This includes the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, Oman, Russia and others.

The move into Georgia was spurred on for the same reason, explained Tannous. “Pontus are very well established in Georgia. They saw an opportunity to target the Middle East market. Pontus’ vision is to get an established [Middle East] brand in its market.”

Warming Up For More Casinos?

On the casino aspect, Tannous said it’s par for the course in this particular district of Georgia. Located near a city called Batumi, it is seen as one of the gaming hubs of the country, home to a Shangri-La casino resort.

Rotana won’t be running the casino, but rather appointing a thrid-party operator. Tannous said: “Even in big hotels – excluding maybe Vegas – gaming is an add-on. The casinos are often run by third-party operators, specialized in that business. For us, as Rotana, we need to make sure there’s synergy between us and that third-party [casino] operator.”

“The gaming aspect is an add-on for sure. The destination has a very heavy focus on gaming already, it attracts people from countries where gaming is not allowed.”

In the UAE, the first and only confirmed casino is opening in 2027 in Ras Al Khaimah and will be operated by Wynn Resorts. Competitor MGM has stated on numerous occasions a desire for a casino license in the country but has yet to confirm anything.

Asked whether the Georgia resort is a warm-up for a potential casino project in the UAE, Tannous said: “There’s definitely an opportunity to learn from gaming in Georgia.”

He added that if that were to happen, it would likely be an external company running it on Rotana’s behalf. “We’re open to diversifying our operations,” he said. “It would just be providing a service to a guest, it’s an add-on. Will Georgia teach us how [casinos] are operated? Yes. My knowledge of gaming is that specialized companies run that business but we need synergy with them. Most probably, that’s how it would look like.”

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