Major casino operators prefer Marina site for proposed integrated resort - Saturday 12th of March 2005

SINGAPORE: The world's major casino operators, which have submitted concept proposals for Singapore's first integrated resort, appear to favour the site at Marina Bayfront, compared with Sentosa.

US entertainment group, Harrah's, and Australia's Tabcorp told Channel NewsAsia that if they had to choose between the two sites, it will be the Marina area.


Other big American operators Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and MGM Mirage have also geared their proposals towards the downtown site.

The two adjacent sites at Marina have a combined gross floor area of 5.9 million square feet -- more than double the space at Sentosa.

The integrated resort will be the single largest property development in Singapore, with an estimated development cost of S$2.8 to S$3.4 billion.

It's likely to include the largest hotel, the largest shopping mall, and the largest concentration of food and beverage outlets and non-gaming entertainment.

So, it's no wonder that 6 of the top international players are eyeing the downtown area for this mega project

The names read like the Who's Who of the gaming world including the big US players MGM Mirage, Harrah's, Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts.

Property consultants believe the integrated resort at Marina will also benefit other developments nearby, and may be a boost to the future Business and Financial Centre.

"I think it'll bring life to the area as it will be close to the BFC site and at the same we'll see more tourists coming and hotels and residential areas. So, it'll be a more integrated area for Singapore. It will really attract more locals and foreigners to this area and bring life to the new downtown." said Feng Zhi Wei, associate director of research at Jone Lang Lasalle.

Managing director of Cushman and Wake field Donald Han added, "If the decision to be held at the Marina area, it'll provide enough time for the potential bidders for the BFC project to determine what type of concept they can build to and link up with the integrated resort."

In a recent report, the US investment bank, Merrill Lynch, also said it believed that only the Marina site could support an integrated resort.

Merrill predicts that the resort could draw about 40 million people in its first year of operations.

The government is due to announce its decision on whether to proceed with the integrated resort in Parliament on April 18th.

If it gives the greenlight, it's expected to take 6 to 9 months to complete the bidding and review process - before awarding an integrated resort licence.

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