Singapore Draft Casino Law Proposes Levies - Tuesday 18th of October 2005

The Singapore government is going ahead with plans to impose levies on Singaporeans and permanent residents visiting the city-states two proposed casinos -- but will drop a proposed surcharge on casino operators.

The draft Casino Control Bill released by authorities Monday for public feedback said casino operators will be required to collect a levy of 100 Singapore dollars (US$59.20; euro49.34) a day or S$2,000 (US$1,184; euro987) a year on locals visiting the casino.

Local media reports in recent months have said interested casino operators would rather the Singapore government do away with the levy due to difficulties in implementation.

And while authorities wont impose a surcharge on casino operators that aims to cap gaming revenue, the government will limit the floor area for gaming at each casino at 15,000 square meters (161,460 sq. feet) out of a total 500,000 square meters (5.38 million sq. feet) area envisaged for the casino at Marina Bay, second minister for trade and industry Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament.

Singapore reversed a decades-old ban on casino gaming in April this year to allow the building of two casino resorts to help boost tourism by 2009.

After two delays, the tender for a casino resort at Marina Bay near the city center is expected to be launched at end-November, while the tender for a second casino at the resort island of Sentosa will likely be held early next year.

The government had proposed imposing the surcharge if gaming revenue exceeded 50 percent of total revenue from a casino resort.

"The intent was to ensure that the IRs (integrated resorts) would have a high component of non gaming attractions to drive tourism," Balakrishnan said. "Most investors have indicated that they would not be able to generate nongaming revenue exceeding their gaming revenue for the IRs here especially in the initial years of the operation."

Potential bidders for the casino resorts include well-known names such as Las Vegas operators Las Vegas Sands Corp., Wynn Resorts Ltd., Harrahs Entertainment Inc. and MGM Mirage.

Other companies in the running include Australias Tabcorp Holdings Ltd. and Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd.; Kerzner International Ltd., which operates the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas; South Africas Sun International Ltd. and Peermont Global Ltd. and Malaysias Genting Group.

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