Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Chee Hong Tat, says the city’s two casino operators will have to pay “fair market value” for additional land as part of the expansion plans for their respective properties.
Mr Chee was addressing questions from members of parliament (MPs) on the expansion plans of Singapore’s two casino resorts, in particular regarding the lack of a public tender to allocate land and the amount the gaming operators would have to pay for the additional plots.
Singapore currently operates a duopoly casino market shared between the Marina Bay Sands resort (pictured), run by a unit of United States-based casino firm Las Vegas Sands Corp; and the Resorts World Sentosa casino complex operated by Genting Singapore Ltd.
The Singapore government said in early April that it had agreed to the expansion of the city’s two integrated casino resorts; and in return for their aggregate investment – SGD9 billion (US$6.6 billion) – the respective operators will continue to hold a duopoly on casino resorts in the country through to the year 2030.
Speaking in parliament on Monday, Mr Chee said the government can grant plots of land directly when there are large investments that can benefit Singapore’s economy.
“[This is a] longstanding policy that has been extended to both local and foreign companies across different industries,” he said as quoted by Channel News Asia.
The official said additionally that both operators “will pay fair market value … as determined … in accordance with market conditions and established valuation principles”.
Mr Chee explained that the expansion site for Marina Bay Sands is 3.3 hectares (8.15 acres), at a cost of SGD1.3 billion. Channel News Asia quoted the official as saying: “Resorts World Sentosa has set aside a budget of SGD1 billion to intensify the use of existing land and purchase around 1 hectare of new land.”
Singapore’s casino resorts are each currently allowed 15,000 square metres (161,458 sq feet) of gaming area. Under the expansion plan announced last month, both properties will be given the option – subject to additional payments – to increase their gaming areas. Up to an additional 2,000 sq metres would be permitted for Marina Bay Sands; and 500 sq metres for Resorts World Sentosa.
“If the integrated resorts choose to activate their options for additional gaming area, they will have to pay additional costs for these areas,” Mr Chee reportedly said, adding that the amount would also be determined “based on prevailing market conditions” at the point such options were exercised.
According to Mr Chee, none of the operators had as of Monday decided to activate their optional right to additional gaming area.
But he reportedly added: “The new facilities … are expensive facilities. Without the additional gaming provisions as options for the operators, they may not find it commercially viable to make these additional investments to create additional jobs.”
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