Will Singapore get lucky this weekend?

10 Feb 2010

Singapore’s first casino is thought to be ready to open its doors this weekend at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS).

Although owner, Malaysian gaming and leisure giant Genting Berhad, is remaining tight-lipped, it is understood that staff and retailers have been briefed to prepare for an opening timed to coincide with the start of the Chinese New Year holiday.

RWS was granted its casino licence last week.

Four of the resort’s hotels have already opened and RWS has announced that the resort’s substantial entertainment, gaming and conference facilities will come online in phases this year. It is believed that the Universal Studios theme park may open the day before the casino itself.

Chief rival, the Marina Bay Sands, has been plagued by delays and has said it will not be ready to open until mid-April at the earliest.

Keith Wee, an analyst at Malaysia’s OSK Research, told media: “The early opening ahead of Marina Bay Sands will be positive as it allows RWS to reap the full benefits of a monopoly during the peak Chinese New Year festive season.”

Singapore is banking on both new complexes not only to generate substantial gaming revenue, estimated to be in excess of US$3 billion, but to revitalise its leisure tourism and consolidate its position as one of the world’s leading corporate events and conference destinations.

Fully opened Resorts World Sentosa will add around 1,200 new hotel rooms in six different properties with Marina Bay Sands adding a further 2,600, representing an unprecedented surge in the island state’s hotel capacity. In addition, both complexes will offer large-scale amounts of conference and exhibition space.

Local businesses are also looking to benefit, Singapore’s taxi companies have now added a S$3 (US$2.11) pick-up fee from the resort. SMRT taxis introduced the surcharge in January and Comfort cabs have announced a similar fee starting from this Friday in anticipation of the opening.

Kenny Coyle

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