News / Asia

Singapore Gambling on New Casino Resorts

Conservative City-State aims to draw wealthy Asian tourists

Singapore's new Marina Bay Sands resort (see more pictures below)
Singapore's new Marina Bay Sands resort (see more pictures below)

Singapore's decision to open its first casino resorts this year is a bet that appears to be paying off.

One of the two new resorts is the $5-billion Marina Bay Sands.  Opened in April, the complex features a casino, a shopping mall, and three hotel towers that are joined at the top by a visually spectacular elevated platform.

In the coming months, Marina Bay Sands developer Las Vegas Sands Corp. plans to finish other parts of the complex, including a museum, theaters and floating pavilions.

Singapore's government approved the building of Marina Bay Sands and the $4-billion Resorts World Sentosa complex to attract more wealthy tourists to the city-state.

Besides a casino, Resorts World Sentosa features a Universal Studios theme park, a Marine Life park, several hotels and a spa. Malaysia's Genting Group opened the complex on Singapore's Sentosa island in January.

Photo Gallery: A Look Inside Singapore's Casino Resorts (Story continues below)

 

Casino gamble paying off

Officials say the casino resorts helped to bring more than one million tourists to Singapore in July, a record for a one-month period. Arrivals dipped to just under one million in August and September but still set records for those months.

Las Vegas Sands chief executive Sheldon Adelson predicts rising tourism will boost Singapore's annual casino revenues to $6.5 billion by 2012. That would make Singapore's casino industry a bigger money-earner than its Las Vegas counterpart.

Sheldon Adelson (Courtesy Las Vegas Sands Corp.)
Sheldon Adelson (Courtesy Las Vegas Sands Corp.)

Singapore's DBS Bank expects the casino resorts to speed up the nation's economic growth this year by almost one-percentage point to 15 percent.

Weighing the social risks

Singapore's casino experiment has its critics.  Georgetown University Professor Pamela Sodhy says Singaporeans who visit casinos may become addicted to gambling and could turn to crime to fund their habit.

In fact, authorities in one of the world’s safest cities have reported cases of casino-related crimes such as identity fraud and mobile phone theft.

Singapore's government has tried to discourage its citizens from using the casinos by making them pay a daily entry fee of US$75 - a charge that does not apply to foreign visitors. It also recently stopped casino operators from providing free bus services to local residents.

It appears some of these measures have not had the desired effect. More than one million Singaporeans visited the two casinos in the seven months since the first one opened.  Sodhy, an expert on Southeast Asian history, says some local gamblers also have been betting more money to try to recoup the entry fee.

Singapore's government has downplayed the role of casinos in the complexes by referring to them as "integrated resorts" that offer a variety of attractions. It’s a message that’s in keeping with the city’s conservative image.


Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs