Singapore gaming revenues likely flat in 2017: Fitch

Total gambling revenues in Singapore are expected to remain at about US$4 billion (S$5.66 billion) in 2017 as the high-roller or VIP segment remains weak, credit rating agency Fitch Ratings said in a note on Tuesday.

It said gaming revenues continued to slide last year largely due to a sharp contraction in the VIP segment, despite a 12.5 per cent gain in Chinese visitors - the biggest source of VIP revenue - in the first six months of 2016.

Singapore's two integrated resorts Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), which dominate the local gaming market, will face heightened competition from regional casinos such as Macau and the Philippines this year.

There is also a risk, albeit low, of the Singapore government awarding additional gaming licences, it added.

MBS, which Fitch said has a 60 per cent share of the local gaming market, is owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp while RWS is owned by Genting Singapore, a unit of the Genting Group.

Fitch noted that the Singapore gaming market also includes state-owned lottery games and sports betting operated by Singapore Pools, as well as gambling cruises and "small-scale slot parlours".

The agency said other risks to casinos here included the possibility of higher gaming taxes starting in 2022; a limited ability to expand physically; greater restrictions on Singapore residents' participation; and a high reliance on a concentrated pool of high-rollers.

But it said that a few positives for Singapore gaming included a "low" gaming tax rate, a "duopoly structure at least through 2017", and a central location in South-east Asia with well developed transport links.

This article was first published on February 01, 2017. Get The Business Times for more stories.