Las Vegas Sun

October 16, 2021

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Experts predict Las Vegas Sands casino will dominate Singapore market

Gaming giant’s resort is expected to generate billions

singapore

bloomberg news file

Construction takes place in July at a hotel tower in the Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, scheduled to open early next year in Singapore.

The world’s newest gaming venue will be halfway around the world — with a Las Vegas company in the center of the competition.

Experts are saying Las Vegas Sands’ Marina Bay Sands will likely be the more visible and more enduring property of two that will open in Singapore in early 2010.

Singapore reversed a 40-year ban on gambling in 2005 and invited developers worldwide to bid to build integrated resorts on two sites.

The $5.4 billion Marina Bay Sands on Singapore’s waterfront will include three 55-story towers housing 2,500 suites, capped by a rooftop terrace. As in Las Vegas, where the company operates the Venetian and Palazzo, and in Macau, home of the massive Venetian Macau, the Marina Bay Sands will have a major convention center as well as two theaters, a retail center, a museum and a casino.

Marina Bay’s competitor will be the $4.2 billion Resorts World at Sentosa, developed by Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-based Genting Group. The resort on Sentosa Island off the southern coast of Singapore will incorporate six hotels of varying themes around the centerpiece of the development — Asia’s only Universal Studios theme park. Resorts World will have a water park, a maritime museum, a theater featuring an Asian cultural show, a retail district, a conference center and a casino.

Although the resort on Sentosa Island — accessible by ferry or a recently completed transport system on a covered boardwalk — is expected to generate considerable buzz in Southeast Asia and be a more popular attraction initially, analysts say the Sands should have more to offer in the long run.

“Theme parks quickly wear out, so a casino-theme park marriage should lose its appeal over time,” Grant Chum, head of China research for USB Investment Bank, said at last week’s Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.

“The Sands’ casino-convention center development is an easier marriage, and I think that has been validated by the company’s success in Las Vegas,” he said.

Chum added that the company already has connections with UNLV and the relationship should be enhanced through UNLV’s Singapore campus, which issued its first hotel administration and hospitality administration degrees in June.

Singapore has high hopes for the addition of the two integrated resorts.

The island city-state at the southern end of the Malay Peninsula draws more than 9 million visitors annually, mostly from Indonesia, China and Australia, adding about $7.2 billion in U.S. dollars to its economy.

Margaret Teo, assistant CEO of development for the Singapore Tourism Board, said the resorts are expected to attract 2 million to 3 million more visitors and generate $1.9 billion (U.S.) for the economy by 2015.

Teo thinks the addition of the resorts will expand Singapore’s tourism market to India, where fans of Bollywood movies should find some appeal in Genting’s Universal Studios theme park.

The gaming component of Singapore’s new resorts will be carefully watched.

Fredric Gushin, managing director of Linwood, N.J.-based Spectrum Gaming Group, an industry consultant specializing in gaming research, said Singapore will use a hybrid of gaming regulatory strategies from Nevada, New Jersey and Australia to monitor the two casinos.

Among the regulations is a plan to discourage locals from playing — Singaporeans would have to pay a $100 ($72 U.S.) daily fee or $2,000 ($1,443 U.S.) annually to gamble in either casino.

The gaming tax rate on the two casinos is 15 percent, 5 percent for VIP players that deposit more than the Singapore equivalent of $72,000 to play in private salons. By comparison, Nevada has a 6.75 percent gaming tax, New Jersey collects 8 percent, Pennsylvania 56 percent and Macau 40 percent.

Gushin said analysts will keep a close watch on how Singapore’s new casinos affect gaming revenue in Macau, which has been difficult to track because the Chinese government has relaxed, then tightened travel rules to limit the number of visits Chinese travelers can make to the gaming enclave on that nation’s southern coast.

Some analysts are speculating that the Chinese could cut the tax rate in Macau to encourage the development of more amenities. It’s the amenities — not the casinos — that are most important to Singapore’s tourism economy.

The Marina Bay Sands casino is expected to house 1,000 table games and 1,400 slot machines.

The approval of gaming was highly controversial in a society where chewing gum and spitting on sidewalks are considered public offenses.

Teo said Singapore is optimistic that the Marina Bay Sands’ convention center, which will have halls that can house 2,000 exhibits or 250 meeting rooms that can accommodate 45,000 people, will drive business traffic.

The Sands will have two theaters, one for “The Lion King” and the other to have a rotating schedule of headline performers.

A version of this story appears in this week’s In Business Las Vegas, a sister publication of the Sun.

A version of this story appears in this week’s In Business Las Vegas, a sister publication of the Sun.

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