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Singapore cashing in on local casino entry fees

Wed, May 8, 1:54pm by Staff Writer

Higher entrance fees haven’t stopped rich Singaporeans or those feeling lucky from flocking to the country’s two casinos.

Bloomberg is reporting that the city-state has received about US$954 million in entrance fees from citizens and permanent residents since 2010 even as tourists are allowed to enter for free, Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said in a response to a question in parliament on Monday.

Levies for Singaporeans and permanent residents to enter either Resorts World Sentosa or the more glitzy Marina Bay Sands were raised to S$150 a day or S$3000 a year last month.

That’s up from S$100 and S$2000.

Singapore initially introduced the charges to deter locals from gambling.

“The daily and annual entry levies serve to deter casual and impulse gambling by locals and are part of a holistic suite of social safeguards,” Teo said.

“Between 2010 and 2018, the number of local visitors to the casinos declined by 50 per cent.”

Singapore said last month it would extend the exclusive licences for the two casino operators until 2030 after they pledged to invest S$9 billion in additional tourism attractions.

Las Vegas Sands Corp’s Singapore venture will build a fourth tower at Marina Bay Sands plus a new entertainment arena, while Genting Singapore Ltd.’s Resorts World will construct two new theme zones and enlarge its aquarium.

For the new attractions to remain commercially viable, the government also agreed for both operators to increase their gaming facilities, beyond the current approved 15,000 square metres and 2,500 gaming machines each.

Marina Bay Sands will be given an option to expand its gaming area by an extra 2000 square metres and add 1000 more machines, while Resorts World can choose to add an extra 500 square metres and 800 more machines.

As part of the overall expansion, the duo will pay around S$2.3 billion for extra land, the New Paper reported, citing Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat.

Big plans for Singapore’s casinos

Marina Bay Sands is vying with Galaxy Macau for the mantel of the world’s most profitable casino property and will build a 15,000 seat indoor arena at the foot of a 1,000 suite luxury hotel tower.

The new tower, on a lot owner Las Vegas Sands and founder Sheldon Adelson have long coveted across the street from the current three hotel towers, sounds like a mini Marina Bay Sands, with a dramatic atrium and rooftop fool area.

The Marina Bay Sands additions will likely link to the existing complex via an underground network that already crosses city streets to connect the hotel, gaming, retail and convention components, and also has an MRT train station.

For Resorts World Sentosa, the expansion plans are a little more complicated.

They will add two new sections to their Universal Studios theme park, an enlarged Aquarium into Singapore Oceanarium, convert its theatre into “Adventure Dining Playhouse” and redevelop waterfront areas with a free wow factor attraction, public event space plus a retail and dining promenade.

It will also add two new hotels with a total of 1,100 keys and increase exhibition space by 11,000 square metres.

According to analysts on a conference call with Resorts World Sentosa’s parent company Genting Singapore, the major new amenities will come on line in 2024 and beyond.

In contrast with the Marina Bay Sands expansion, Resorts World Sentosa’s changes will disrupt some current operations.

In exchange for these investments and subject to development thresholds, the government will let each integrated resort expand its current 15,000 square metres of casino space.

An additional 2,000 additional square metres and 1,000 more electronic gaming machines for Marina Bay Sands and 500 square metres and 800 machines for Resorts World Sentosa.

The disparity in space and machines was explained by the ministries who told Forbes, “each integrated resort made an independent assessment of what they would require and eventually we arrived [at] commercial arrangements that each integrated resort was comfortable with.”

Singapore has already begun taking payment despite the additional income streams coming down the line.


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