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Singapore’s government on Monday granted a licence for the city-state’s second legal casino, the Marina Bay Sands, one day ahead of the planned opening of its first phase.
Marina Bay Sands, three 55-storey towers located close to the financial district, got the licence more than two months after its rival Resorts World on Singapore’s Sentosa island opened its casino on the first day of the Chinese New Year.
The two multibillion-dollar casino resorts are designed to lure wealthy gamblers mainly from around Asia.
Marina Bay Sands, developed by its US-based parent company Las Vegas Sands, had originally been scheduled to start operations at the end of 2009 ahead of its competitor, but the construction of the 5.5-billion-US-dollar project, including a convention complex offering 2,500 hotel rooms, was hindered by a labour shortage, lack of materials and other problems.
After the Casino Regulatory Authority issued the license Monday, the Marina Bay Sands was set to open Tuesday for a preview with 963 hotel rooms, dozens of stores, part of the exhibition and convention centre, some restaurants and bars, and the casino, the developer said earlier, adding that a grand opening was set to follow June 23.
One major drawing card of Resorts World Sentosa, estimated to cost 4.4 billion US dollars, is South-East Asia’s first Universal Studios theme park, which opened its doors in March.
Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa are the only casinos approved by the Singapore government so far after it lifted a 40-year-old ban on gambling in 2005 to create another source of revenue for the tiny island state, which lacks natural resources.