Singapore Allows US$6.7 Billion IR Expansion

Singapore has allowed the first major expansion of its integrated resort industry since its two IRs began operating, involving S$9 billion (about US$6.7 billion) new investment in non-gaming amenities, but casino entry fees and taxes will also rise.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Finance said the investment from Las Vegas Sands and Genting Singapore would create 5,000 new jobs and bring in an extra half a million visitors a year. Both companies are seeking a license in Japan.

The additional investment by the IRs is almost two-thirds their initial investment in 2006. In view of the substantial investment, the government has extended the exclusivity period of the licenses to the end of 2030.

It has also allowed each of the two IRs, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, to increase their total allowed gaming space and the number of gaming machines they can operate. Marina Bay Sands will be able to dedicate a further 2000 square meters to gaming and will be able to up its total number of gaming machines from 2,500 to 3,500. Resorts World Sentosa will have an extra 500 square meters of gaming space and a further 800 machines.

However, the government points out that as non-gaming areas will expand by a much larger amount, the allowed gaming area as a proportion of total floor area will reduce from the existing 3.1% to 2.3%.

The new allowances come with a sting in the tail. The government plans to up the local entry fee from April 4 by 50% to S$150 (about US$110).

At the end of a current tax moratorium in February 2022, it will also introduce a higher tax rate.

In terms of the individual plans, Las Vegas Sands said it will invest US$3.3 billion in a state-of-the-art 15,000-seat arena, a 1,000-room luxury hotel tower and additional MICE space. The hotel tower will also include a sky roof with a swimming pool and a signature restaurant. Moshe Safdie, who designed the original property, and Aedas and Gensler are planning to be part of the team responsible for the design elements of the building.

Resorts World Sentosa will expand Universal Studios Singapore with two new immersive environments, Minion Park and Super Nintendo World. It will also enlarge its popular S.E.A. Aquarium, taking over the adjacent Maritime Experiential Museum to create a new Singapore Oceanarium. Its Waterfront Promenade will be redeveloped to include a free public attraction featuring a nightly show and multi-purpose event zone that can be adapted for different festivals and events. Two new destination hotels, together with the expansion of the Central Zone, will also add up to 1,100 more rooms for Resorts World Sentosa. (AGB)