Despite being around for merely a couple of years and with barely two casinos, the revenues of Singapore’s gaming industry are set to surpass the revenues of the Las Vegas Strip. Hard to believe, but true!
When the Singapore government, known for its stringent legal and moral conduct, issued licenses to a couple of casinos in 2010, it took the world by surprise. The initial idea was to enhance the experience of tourists and provide them with a wide range of entertainment options and services. The strategy was to boost the tourism of the island.
Despite this the bold move, experts were of the opinion that the growth of the gaming market in Singapore would be limited. And this projection had a few reasons behind it:
- The government of Singapore made it mandatory for casinos to be made in only the ‘integrated resorts’, and to only be a part of the entertainment complexes. This restriction barred the establishment of independent casinos.
- The government also curbed any kind of advertisement of these casinos.
- And the biggest factor was that, though the entry to casinos was free for foreign tourists, the locals had to pay a hefty sum of S$100 to get a flavor of the gaming world.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that, despite the stringent regulations, the growth of the gaming sector in Singapore has been astounding.
Singapore Gaming Sector: Growth Trends
The gamble of introducing casinos paid off in the first year itself, as tourist arrivals in 2010 rose to 11.7 million, from 10.3 million in 2007. A closer look at the stats released by the government agencies reveal that a majority of the tourists who thronged the nation belonged to the Asia-Pacific region led by Mainland China and followed by countries like Australia, India and Malaysia.
This huge influx of tourists boosted the GDP of Singapore, as a result of which the nation’s economy grew at a staggering rate of around 15%, making it the fastest growing economy in Asia. These figures clearly indicate that Singapore has gradually, but steadily emerged as a strong casino hub in the region.
In the debut year itself, the Singapore gaming sector registered robust revenues of as much as US$ 5.1 billion, which is not far behind the revenues recorded by the Las Vegas Strip (US$ 5.8 billion). Although the figure is way short of Macau’s US$23 billion, the growth rate in 2011, at around 25%, is significantly higher than that of Macau (20%). Without a shred of doubt, these figures position Singapore as a strong contention for the number 2 spot.
Another heartening fact is that the two casinos of Singapore generated about S$1 billion as tax revenues for the ten months to January 2012, according to the figures released by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS). The two locations Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa clocked 137,259 and 136,434 visitors, respectively, during this period. And the Ministry expects the numbers to double by 2015, as the industry spreads its roots in the island.
Now, let’s take a look at the two magnificent casinos that have become the pride of Singapore, namely, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa.
Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay Sands, one of the world’s biggest and most popular resorts, spreads lavishly across Singapore’s Marina Bay. This is tagged as the most expensive casino hub across the globe. Built by the Las Vegas Sands and costing a whopping S$8 billion to construct, the resort hosts more than 2,500 rooms, along with a 1,300,000 square feet convention centre, two theatres, eight restaurants, a huge ice skating rink and of course the LARGEST atrium casino in the world. The casino has around 600 slot machines and 500 tables.
The construction has an exclusive attraction in the form of a Skypark, which is 340m long and has a capacity of accommodating around 4,000 people. The 152m infinity swimming pool at the top of the building, is by far the most exquisite attraction of the complex.
The casino at Marina Bay Sands is the most profitable in the world. Currently, it has 13 different types of games, including baccarat, power baccarat, roulette, money wheel, pontoon, blackjack, sic bo, three card poker, Singapore stud poker and mini dice.
Resorts World Sentosa
Resorts World Sentosa, a resort on the island of Sentosa, is the world’s second most expensive casino after the Marina Bay Sands. Occupying 120 acres of land, the resort can house around 10,000 people, when fully operational. Built at a staggering cost of S$6.60 billion by Genting Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa boasts of a Universal studio theme park and a marine life park, besides Singapore’s second casino.
The casino, spread over 15,000 sq.m., is situated beneath the Crockfords Tower and proffers more than 16 varieties of slot machines, electronic machines as well as table games.
The Asia-Pacific Region Dominates the Gambling Sector
The Asia Pacific region is expected to witness aggressive growth in the forthcoming years, with many nations like Singapore starting to realize the benefits that casinos and gaming can have on their economical growth. This growth will be driven by three main factors:
- An expected rise in the disposable income, coupled with the increasing prosperity of the middle-class
- A rise in the popularity of online gaming in the countries where gambling isn’t a legal practice
- The expanding infrastructure and establishment of new centers in various Asian countries, including Singapore, Vietnam and Japan, will further impact the health of the Asia-Pacific gaming industry.
Serving as a perfect counterpart to Macau, Singapore is sure to add more accolades to its already enriched kitty through the expansion plans that are likely to materialize soon. The nation also serves as an ideal example for countries like India which have still not opened its doors to casinos. If run as a regulated industry, just like any other, the gambling industry can do wonders to a nation’s tourism industry and economic revenues.