'No plans' for more casino licences for now

'No plans' for more casino licences for now
Dealers at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) all ready before the casino opened at 3.18pm on 27 April 2010. The casino’s two lower levels are mass gaming floors, while high rollers play in VIP rooms on the upper two levels.

Singapore has "no plans" currently to offer additional casino licences when the moratorium on such licences expires in 2017, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan said yesterday.

The Government will instead focus on working with the two integrated resorts (IRs) to ensure their attractions and services continue to meet the needs of Singaporeans and enhance the country's tourism appeal, he added in Parliament.

Singapore put in place a 10-year moratorium on new casino licences in 2007, following the two awarded for the Marina Bay and Sentosa sites.

The two casinos were granted exclusive rights in Singapore from 2007 to 2017, partly so that their operators - Las Vegas Sands and Genting Singapore - could get a head start in recouping their large investments.

Responding to a question from Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam on whether the Government has received any requests from existing or new casino operators to issue more licences after 2017, Mr Lee reiterated the Government's stance of working with the existing operators to improve their offerings.

Mr Lee said the two IRs have contributed between 1.5 and 2 per cent of GDP, and created more than 20,000 jobs.

He also noted that many economies in the region have been building casinos: the Philippines will have five IRs by 2019, and South Korea will also have five by 2018. Japan and Taiwan have also expressed interest in building IRs.

"This is the international competitive landscape in terms of major cities improving their tourism attractions, so this will be one set of considerations that we have to take into consideration as and when we consider the next steps," he said.

yanliang@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 12, 2015.
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