In Singapore today the Government publishes its draft Casino Control bill for public consultation. The second stage of bidding for the two Integrated Resorts was originally scheduled to start at the end of last month but has now been delayed to the end of November for the Marina Bay site and the first quarter of 2006 for Sentosa Island. At present there are eleven companies that completed the first stage of the bidding, and twelve projects, but it is expected that as many as six companies may drop out of the contest. The high cost of preparing for the Request for Proposal (RFP) and the possible size of a required deposit may deter some from continuing.
There has been some fierce opposition to the introduction of casinos into Singapore after a ban of forty years. Singapore sees the move to allow the two casino resorts as a way to modernise and improve its tourist offering. Several top international gaming companies wish to be part of the new casino industry, including Harrah’s with local KeppeLand in its bid for both sites. Other companies that will bid as consortiums are Kerzner International, MGM Mirage, PBL/Melco and Genting International. Some analysts have tipped Genting as a favourite because of its knowledge of the Asian gaming market from operating the successful Genting Highlands Resort in Malaysia. Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, Sun International, Peermont Global, Eight Wonders Asia and GuocoLand are expected to make individual bids.
The Casino Control bill will establish a Casino Regulatory Authority to oversee the projects and to prevent criminal activity, and is seen as a means to preserve public confidence. A National Council for Problem Gambling will seek to minimise adverse social effects, and already started its two-year term on 31August. On 26 September the Singapore Government announced that the RFPs had been staggered to give those unsuccessful in a bid for Marina Bay the chance to participate on Sentosa Island. Public consultation on the Casino Control bill, according to the government, should not reopen discussions on the merits of allowing casinos but be limited to the casino control measures.
According to the draft bill, citizens and residents of Singapore will have to pay a levy of S$100 (US$59)per day or S$2,000 (US$1,181) per year, and to get credit will have to maintain a deposit of S$100,000 (US$59,000) with the casino operator. There will be no ATMs allowed in a casino. The public has until 11 November to comment and the Government will publish a summary with its responses by the end of the year. (E-10.17.05)
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