Genting Singapore casino set to open before rival - Saturday 25th of July 2009

Genting Singapore’s Resorts World at Sentosa (RWS) is in a good position to pull ahead of Las Vegas Sands’ Marina Bay Sands (MBS) in the race to open the first casino in Singapore following a delay in the MBS project, analysts said.

MBS has delayed its soft launch to early 2010 from the original deadline of end-2009 due to a shortage of labour and materials, according to media reports.

HwangDBS Vickers Research, in its latest report, said with RWS on track for a targeted soft launch in January 2010 to catch the Chinese New Year (CNY) peak season, it was possible that RWS would open first.

This is despite RWS having started later, as it was awarded the project in December 2006 while MBS received its approval in May the same year, it noted.

Kenanga Research said in a company update report that RWS was likely to gear up construction works in order to open before MBS.

The research house said that as at March 31, RWS had already awarded about S$4.67bil worth of works out of the S$6.59bil project cost.

“Installation of various fun equipment in Universal Studios has begun while testing and commissioning is scheduled to begin in October,” it noted.

Analysts expect RWS to gain from “first-mover” advantage should it open its integrated resort ahead of MBS, noting that Singapore residents are required by the government to pay an entrance fee of S$100 per day or S$2,000 per year to the casino.

The annual pass is exclusive to one casino only, so the first integrated resort to open will have the advantage of locking in Singaporean patrons early, according to HwangDBS Vickers Research.

An analyst with a foreign brokerage said RWS was very likely to open in early first quarter next year and lock in more local and foreign casino patrons, especially those from China, during the Chinese New Year festive season.

“Whoever opens first will get the first batch of patrons to sign up to be its customer for one year, as seasoned punters will likely sign up for the annual passes,” he told StarBiz.

“Normally, people will get excited with something new but after a while, they will go for what they really want,” he added.

RWS is ready for the opening in the first quarter next year as everything, including construction, is on track while funding for the project is intact, according to the analyst.

“RWS would submit its application for casino licence in this quarter (third quarter).

“Probably it can get the approval before the fourth quarter this year if everything goes smoothly,” he continued.

Another analyst, who declined to be named, agreed that RWS would get first-mover advantage if it opened first, but it would be just an initial gain.

She said RWS had a different target market from MBS, noting that “RWS would attract more family persons with its theme park facilities.”

Resorts World at Sentosa Pte Ltd is the developer of a 49ha integrated resort on Singapore’s Sentosa island.

The company will own and operate all key attractions at the resort, which houses six hotels, a casino, Universal Studios Singapore, The Marine Life Park, the Maritime Experiential Museum and the Equarius Water Park.

Resorts World at Sentosa is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Genting Singapore, a leisure and gaming company listed on the main board of the Singapore Exchange.

Genting Bhd owns a direct stake of 54.4% in Genting Singapore.

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