Singapore lets the games begin

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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