Four hotels open at Singapores first casino-resort - Monday 21st of January 2013

Singapores first casino-resort partially opened Wednesday, a key part of a government plan to reduce reliance on manufacturing and brand the tightly controlled city-state as a cosmopolitan Asian capital.

Resorts World Sentosa, built by Malaysias Genting Bhd for 6.6 billion Singapore dollars ($5 billion), opened 1,340 rooms in four hotels, including a Hard Rock hotel and a property designed by architect Michael Graves. Its 7,300-seat ballroom, one of Asias largest, will host its first event at the end of this month.

A Universal Studios theme park is expected to open in the coming weeks on the sprawling 49-hectare complex on Sentosa, an island a quarter of a mile off Singapores coast. No firm date has been set, said Genting chairman Lim Kok Thay, contradicting reports it would open next week.

The resorts casino, the first of two planned for the city-state, is expected to open in March following delays in getting its license approved.

Genting is still likely to steal a march on rival Las Vegas Sands, which is looking at a May launch for its $5.5 billion Marina Bay Sands casino-resort.

Both casino operators are eyeing Asias high-roller market — an endeavor Singapore facilitates with its 12% tax on net revenue from big-money gamblers, compared with Macaus 39%. Genting expects tourists to make up 60% of visitors to its casino with up to a quarter of those tourists to come from China.

READ MORE: U.S. casinos bet on Macau pays off

Singapore — known for its ban on chewing gum sales and canings for crimes some countries would rule as minor — strictly controls public speech and assembly though has become socially more liberal and allowed greater artistic freedom in recent years. The decision to allow casinos followed a rare national debate though the governments desired outcome was never in doubt.

The government expects the two casino-resorts to increase the countrys gross domestic product growth by up to 1 percentage point, boost tourist arrivals and add 35,000 jobs.

With a well-educated population that speaks English, Chinese and Malay, Singapore is increasingly focusing on finance and tourism, said Irvin Seah, an economist with DBS Bank in Singapore.

"Services are really a green pasture going forward for Singapore," Seah said. "Its the area which we really want to fully exploit and its where we have a comparative advantage in the region."

Manufacturing, which has long dominated the economy, has been slowly leaving the country as companies seek cheaper labor costs in regional neighbors such as China and Vietnam.

"Competitors are catching up very quickly," Seah said. "In some segments of the manufacturing sector, we are certainly fighting a losing battle."

Other news from around the same time

William Hill PLC - Sale of Spain joint venture - Monday 21st of January 2013

William Hill PLC (LSE: WMH) (William Hill or the Group) announces completion of Coderes purchase of ....

Macau back in the billions - Monday 21st of January 2013

James Packers Macau joint venture is under pressure to maintain its share of the worlds biggest gamb....

Police say topless dealers and more involved in illicit gambling tournaments - Thursday 21st of January 2010

An undercover sting has broken up an illicit operation in Kent County. The bust took place over the....

Government proposes to bring ban on gambling business until adoption of special law - Thursday 21st of January 2010

The government of Ukraine has proposed to suspend some points of a law on licensing certain kinds of....

Singapores First Casino-resort Opens - Thursday 21st of January 2010

Singapores first casino-resort partially opened Wednesday, a key part of a government plan to reduce....

Twitter Allowed at WSOP 2010 - Thursday 21st of January 2010

The WSOP have updated their rules regarding cell phone use for the 2010 series. Previously poker pla....

Wynn Divorce May Mint New Billionaire - Thursday 21st of January 2010

It might be time to carve out some room for a new billionaire on The Forbes 400.Steve and Elaine Wyn....

Gaming industry group elects Boyd CEO as chairman - Thursday 21st of January 2010

The American Gaming Association has elected Boyd Gaming Corp. CEO Keith Smith as its next chairman.T....

Gambling addict Harry Kakavas loses case against Crown Casino - Wednesday 9th of December 2009

A PATHOLOGICAL gambler has failed in his bid to sue Melbournes Crown Casino for the millions of doll....

Call for ban on casino inducements - Wednesday 9th of December 2009

INDUCEMENTS like those given by Melbournes Crown Casino to pathological gambler Harry Kakavas should....