Posts Tagged ‘Singapore tourism’

Singapore casinos beat long odds

June 30, 2011

Bulletin (new date): My interview on Macau’s TDM Talk Show will be televised on its Portuguese channel on Saturday, July 2 at 8pm (Macau/Hong Kong/China time; Saturday 8am US Eastern time) and be repeated Sunday night/Monday morning at 12.30 am. After the initial airing, you can watch it on the TDM website via the TDM Talk Show link. Hope you’ll tune in for my talk (in English) with Natalya Molok about Macau gaming, Hong Kong On Air – the perfect read for this Hong Kong Reunification Day weekend, as well as July 4th – and Writing Camp.

Plenty of experts doubted that Singapore’s experiment with two casinos would succeed. Not because of Singapore’s straitlaced reputation, nor because of unprecedented public opposition to the so-called integrated resorts (IRs). The issue was money.

Marina Bay Sands at $6.9 billion and Resorts World Sentosa at $5.7 billion are the two most expensive casino resorts ever built. (MGM’s $9 billion-plus City Center in Las Vegas includes residential and office components.) “They’ll have to be much more successful than the most profitable casino in history,” a skeptical analyst told me while the IRs were under construction.

A year after the grand opening of Marina Bay Sands, Singapore’s two IRs have become the world’s two most profitable casino resorts, helping fuel a tourism boom in Singapore. Yet, as I wrote in Asia Times, there’s little joy over the achievement.

Earlier this year, I highlighted the fun gap at Marina Bay Sands amid its renowned architecture. That report in Macau Business also examined the odd departure of Marina Bay Sands CEO Thomas Arasi after delivering company record profits. Sometimes, it seems, money alone can’t buy happiness.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

Singapore lets the games begin

February 12, 2010

The first casino in Singapore opens this Sunday. The US$4.6 billion Resorts World Sentosa project features the world’s largest Universal Studios theme park, six hotels, and, later, the world’s largest aquarium. Later this year, Las Vegas Sands, owner of the Venetian resorts in Las Vegas and Macau, will open the US$5.6 billion Marina Bay Sands as Singapore’s second integrated resort, featuring Asia’s largest convention center along with its casino. Singapore’s government wants the added tourist amenities; to get them built, it’s willing to tolerate the casinos, albeit with restrictions on size and some key operations. The authorities bent the rules to enable Resorts World Sentosa, owned by Malaysia-based Genting, to open its casino in time for Chinese New Year before the Universal Studios theme park is fully operational. As the developers struggle to make these obscenely expensive resorts profitable, the high stakes game to watch is whether Singapore keeps bending the rules in their favor.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.


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