Singapore’s first casino ‘ready’ to open, awaits gaming license

Jonathan Burgos

Genting Singapore Plc is ready to start operating Singapore’s first legal casino as soon as the city state’s government issues its gambling license, the company said today.

Genting Singapore’s stock added as much as 4 percent this morning on speculation gambling may begin at the company’s Resorts World Sentosa complex as soon as February’s Chinese New Year holiday.

“We are ready,” Robin Goh, a spokesman for Resorts World, said. “We can open the casino as soon as we have the license.”

Four hotels and 10 restaurants within the $4.5 billion Sentosa island complex will begin accepting guests from Jan. 20. A Universal Studios theme park in the complex is also waiting for a license to operate, and will open as soon as that is issued, Goh said.

A second casino resort, the Marina Bay Sands, being built by Las Vegas Sands Corp., will open later after encountering construction delays. Singapore announced in April 2005 it was overturning a ban on casinos that had been in place since independence. Resorts World and Marina Bay are the only two casino developments approved so far.

“We believe they, Resorts World, will get their gaming license before Chinese New Year,” Aaron Fischer, a gaming analyst at CLSA Asia Pacific Markets in Hong Kong, said in a telephone interview. “We expect gaming revenues to be bigger. There is a huge gaming market in Southeast Asia.”

In a report published last month, CLSA Asia Pacific Markets said it estimates Resorts World’s gaming revenue to rise from $2.5 billion this year to $3.8 billion by 2013. The Singapore casino market will generate $3 billion in revenue this year, growing to $6 billion in 2013, CLSA said in the report.

Genting Singapore gained 3.2 percent to S$1.29 as of 2:30 p.m. in Singapore. The stock climbed 200 percent in the past year, compared with a 67 percent gain for the benchmark Straits Times Index.

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