Singapore's casino gamble pays off one year on

Just one year after opening its first casino, Singapore has emerged as Asia's hottest new gambling capital with a revamped cityscape and billions of dollars pouring into the economy.

"Singapore has made a dramatic entry to the casino gaming market," financial consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a report estimating the city-state's casino gaming market at $2.8 billion in 2010.

The first casino opened in Malaysian-controlled Resorts World Sentosa on February 14, 2010, with US-based Las Vegas Sands following two months later as the world economy was still clawing itself out of recession.

Resorts World Sentosa also boasts Southeast Asia's first Universal Studios theme park, while Marina Bay Sands has become an architectural icon with its three curving towers topped off by a "SkyPark" shaped like a sleek ocean liner.

Thanks in large measure to the casino complexes, tourist arrivals in Singapore last year hit 11.6 million, breaking by far the previous record of 10.3 million set in 2007.

Most of the visitors came from the Asia-Pacific region, with mainland China, Australia, Indonesia and India together accounting for 53 percent.

Tourist spending helped fuel Singapore's 14.7 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2010, making it Asia's fastest-growing economy, after a 1.3 percent contraction in 2009.

PricewaterhouseCoopers predicted that Singapore would overtake South Korea and Australia this year to become the second-largest Asia-Pacific casino market behind traditional leader Macau.

"In 2011, with a full year's operation for both resorts, we expect revenues to reach $5.5 billion, growing to $8.3 billion by 2014," it said.

When the government lifted a ban on casinos, they were euphemistically called "integrated resorts" or "IRs" amid an outcry from civic and church groups worried about the social impact of large-scale gambling.

"Definitely with the opening of the casinos, we have seen an increase in gambling addicts seeking help," said Tan Lye Keng, executive director of One Hope Centre, a Christian welfare organisation for gambling addicts.

He told AFP that the Sg$100 ($78) entry levy imposed on Singaporean citizens and permanent residents failed to deter gamblers.

Families can also apply for problem gamblers to be banned from entering the casino premises.

But the resorts have also created thousands of new jobs for Singaporeans, and tourists rave over non-gambling attractions like Universal Studios.

"Visitor arrivals have really come in stronger and I think that's a direct spinoff from having the IRs on shore," Barclays Capital senior regional economist Leong Wai Ho told AFP.

He said the resorts were contributing in the region of 0.3 to 0.4 percent of GDP, with the potential for that to increase to 0.7 percent in the near future.

"That's only when both casinos, both IRs are up and running fully, so we're not there yet actually. Contributions to date have been significant, but I think the potential is for more to come," he said.

In the latest financial statement issued by parent company Las Vegas Sands, Marina Bay Sands was shown to have raked in $1.02 billion in revenues from its casino operations in 2010.

Resorts World Sentosa declined to disclose specific casino revenue numbers, but its total revenue stood at $1.53 billion for the nine-month period ending September 30, 2010.

Las Vegas-based casino industry analyst Jonathan Galaviz estimated casino revenue constitutes "at least 60 percent" of the total for Resorts World Sentosa.

"Tourism is a critical economic component for Singapore's economy," Galaviz told AFP.

"The exercise of legalising casino gaming, in the context of integrated resort development, has turned out to be a successful endeavour."

But Galaviz cautioned that Singapore should not get carried away by the success of the casino-powered resorts.

"I believe from a public policy perspective, that Singapore should protect itself from gaining the perception by the outside world that it is a casino-centric country," he said.

"For example, the financial sector in Singapore needs Singapore to be known as a stable, serious, and very ethical place for doing business," he added.

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Restaurant Manager / Sommelier

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Seasonal Placement

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Hotel Receptionists...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Poole

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Lifeguards / Leisure Club Attendants - Seasonal Placement

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Qualified Lifeguards are required to join a fa...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn