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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
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 Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs