Singapore beats Las Vegas at its own game

Gaming industry analysts project that Singapore beat Las Vegas in casino revenue last year. That’s incredible given that Singapore’s two casinos were in their first full year of operation and total 320,000 square feet of gaming floor, while the Las Vegas Strip has decades of glamorous history, 39 casinos and nearly 3 million square feet of tables and slot machines

The Lion City’s success underscores the gaming industry’s argument that there’s huge unsatisfied demand for casinos in Asia. As I report in Asia Times, other countries in the region hope to copy Singapore’s model of casino development.

Singapore insisted that developers invest billions of dollars to build not just casino hotels, but integrated resorts (IRs) that feature a wide variety of non-gaming attractions. With Resorts World Sentosa weeks away from its second anniversary, the IRs no longer resemble construction sites and have become much more hospitable to visitors.

Marina Bay Sands had a severe fun deficit in its early days. But the world’s most expensive casino resort has blossomed into a destination worthy of its stunning architectural wrapper. Since the resort’s grand opening in June 2010, new additions include US import clubs Pangaea and Avalon, the first Singapore outpost of Banyan Tree Spa, a world class museum, and an ice skating rink, plus restaurants and bars overlooking the bay. Those new attractions along with the presence of people actively engaging the property, have overcome the initial imposing cathedral atmosphere. The arrival of Singapore’s MRT mass transit line this month will bring bigger crowds to add to the fun, and to Singapore’s lead over Las Vegas.

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. See his biography, online archive and more at

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