A decade ago Singapore was being discussed as a possible competitor for China’s Macau with an annual gross gaming revenue of $6bn, but growth stalled, and revenues today are at around the same level. Now, Singapore authorities have offered the city state’s two casino’s the chance to expand, but only after significant investment.
Earlier this month, Singapore granted Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa a path to future growth in return each spending each spending $3.3bn on new facilities, including a new indoor arena, theme park and aquarium expansions, and a regenerated beach-front promenade aimed at a broad cross-section of tourists.
According to analysts, will result in Resorts World Sentosa, a Genting Casino offer two new sections to its popular Universal Studios theme park, enlarge its aquarium into an oceanarium, convert its theatre into and “Adventure Dining Playhouse”, and develop its waterfront areas with a public event space and a freshly regenerated promenade focused on food and cultural activities.
For its part, the incredibly profitable Marina Bay Sands has agreed to build a 15,000 seat indoor arena, filling a much needed gap in the sector as a space to put on live concerts and an array of other activities. It will also build a new 1,000 suite luxury hotel next-door to accommodate guests looking to enjoy the extravaganzas expected to be put on at the new stadium.
In return for these additions and improvements, Singaporean authorities have agreed for each casino to expand their current 15,000 square metres of casino space by around seven percent. The two companies will hope this expansion will make up for the higher rate of gambling taxes Singapore introduced earlier this month, where the casino entry tax for Singapore residents rose 50% to $110 for 24 hours or $2,200 per year, with further rate rises due in the next few years.
The news of the casino-funded regeneration comes as Singapore opens its new $1.25 billion Jewel Changi Airport, a dramatic new destination airport that includes an indoor tropical hedge maze, and most impressively a dramatic 40m waterfall where water cascades from an oculus in the centre of the building. The glass and steel structure was designed by Moshe Safdie links the country’s air terminals, and offers not just dramatic architectural beauty but what the New York Times described as “an airport mall on steroids” with over 280 restaurants and shops of local and international brands.