Singapore has been a popular tourist destination for the past few years and for a while now, the city-state has provided serious competition for the world’s main gambling cities. Singapore is shaking up Las Vegas’ prominent position which has already been badly affected by Macau. Although until just recently it would have been difficult to imagine the construction of so many casinos on this small island which has such a strict reputation.
The beginning and development of Singapore
Singapore had been colonised by the Dutch and then the English well before it became the ultramodern city and economic hub that it is to-day. Founded in the 14th century originally as Temaesk ( which means “the sea city”), Singapore later took its current name which means “the lion’s city” in Sanskrit. The island gained its independence in 1965 and its economic growth meant it became one of the “Asian Dragons” joining South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Singapore’s port played a major part in its rise. It is the second most important port in the world after Shanghai and is a major source of revenue for the island and an opening to the world. Urban development completely changed the face of Singapore and provided the conditions needed for the development of tourism in the city-state. The island attracted more and more visitors and several large international financial groups made it their Asian base. Singapore prospered and its highly developed urban landscape with its huge buildings, modern architecture and magnificent Marina Bay made it an extremely attractive region. However along side all of this development, Singapore brought in several rules governing behaviour that appear to be very restrictive to many in the west. Self-censorship became part of the city’s legislation and gave the impression of an “anti- pleasure” state but luckily this has changed in recent years.
Opening up to casino games
Although it’s hard to believe, there were no casinos in Singapore until a few years ago. The restrictive local laws allowed some cash games such as the lottery, horse racing and sports betting but didn’t permit casinos until 2010. In order to boost its tourism industry Singapore opened its up its gambling market to some of the world’s largest casino operators and in the same year the launch of two immense casinos immediately had an effect on the economy. In 2010, Singapore’s record growth of 14.7% was in a large part due to revenue generated by these two casinos which attracted high rollers from Asia and around the world. The complete luxury, the sense of security and the island’s good economic reputation made Singapore the new major casino gaming destination. In 2011 Singapore’s two mega casinos generated 6.3 billion dollars surpassing Las Vegas and placing the city-state in second place globally after Macau. A meteoric rise, although the world’s historic gaming capital is still a strong contender for this second place. Even with this opening up and the growth of casino gambling in Singapore, the laws governing it remain strict especially for the local population which is required to pay an entry fee of 100 Singapore dollars to gain access to the city’s two mega-casinos.
Two mega-casinos, two mega- incomes
Singapore’s range of casinos isn’t large or varied as it only has two casinos but they are outstanding:
- Resorts World Sentosa. Opened in 2010, this huge complex is owned by the Malaysian Genting Group. Said to have cost 5 billion US dollars, the complex built on the island of Sentosa has the world’s largest aquarium, four 5 star hotels providing over 1800 rooms and ten restaurants. Covering 15 000 square metres, the casino which attracts thousands of visitors every year offers more than 500 gaming tables and 2400 slot machines. In 2013, the casino made a profit of 2 942 billion dollars.
- Marina Bay Sands Casino. Owned by the Las Vegas Sands group, the Marina Bay Sands is a perfect example of modernity and luxury. Costing around 8 billion US dollars, it is the most expensive casino complex in the world. With its three superb outdoor swimming pools at 200 metres above sea level, it offers every type of entertainment imaginable to ensure a memorable holiday. The four floor, 15 000 square metre casino has 1500 slot machines and 600 gaming tables. It made a profit of 3 135 billion US dollars in 2013.