Singapore Extends Licenses for Marina Bay Sands, Resorts World Sentosa

Thursday, May 9th, 2019 | Written by April Bergman
Singapore Extends Licenses for Marina Bay Sands, Resorts World Sentosa

Singapore’s goverment recently extended the exclusive casino licenses for Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa. The casinos, owned respectively by Las Vegas Sands Corp and Genting Group, remain the only two land-based casinos in Singapore.

In return, the two casinos pledged to invest a combined S$9 billion in new tourist attractions in the coming ten years. The partnership remains lucrative for the goverment and the casinos ten years after they first opened for business, so the extension makes sense.

Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa operate at the two most lucrative casinos in the world. Their status exists despite most of Singapore’s residents being barred from casino visits.

No law physically bans residents from the mega-resorts. Instead, residents must pay an steep entry fee to enter the casinos. Originally, the fee amounted to S$100 per visit and S$2,000 a year. Last month, as they extended the casino licenses, Singapore regulators raised the limit to S$150 per day and S$3,000 a year.

Obviously, wealthy residents have the means, so they can afford to pay the fees. Everyone else is effectively barred from casino gaming. Singapore maintains a robust set of online gambling laws and law enforcement resources to enforce a ban on online casinos, poker sites, and sportsbooks.

Singapore Raises Casino Levies

As for the land-based casino fees, politicians designed them to limit visits from locals and mitigate the harm caused by problem gambling. The idea is people who can comfortably lose money at a casino can pay the fee and enter, while problem gamblers cannot harm themselves with compulsive play.

Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower, described the fees thusly: “The daily and annual entry levies serve to deter casual and impulse gambling by locals and are part of a holistic suite of social safeguards.”

“Between 2010 and 2018, the number of local visitors to the casinos declined by 50 percent.”

Expanded Gaming Machines for Marina Bay Sands

Despite the levies, the opulent Marina Bay Sands and less opulent Resorts World Sentosa draw in record crowds. Tourists flock to Singapore from all over the Asian mainland and the Pacific region — in fact, from all over the world.

Both casino operators lobbied for more gaming machines and an expansion of their casino floorspace. Both got what they wanted. Previously, Singapore’s two casinos boasted 15,000 square meters and 2,500 gaming machines apiece.

Moving forward, Marina Bay Sands received the option to expand the casino floorspace by 2,000 square meters and add 1,000 more slot machines. Resorts World Sentosa received a lesser concessions, but still can add another 500 square meters of floorspace and 800 more machines.

S$1.3 Billion Paid to Tote Board

The New Paper reported that Las Vegas Sands and Genting Group will pay a combined S$2.3 billion for the land used to expand operations. Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat provides the New Paper with its statistics.

Of that outlay, S$1.3 billion of the cash is earmarked for the Singapore Totalizer Board, usually called the Tote Board. The Tote Board is a government agency which funds social and community programs throughout Singapore.