The Singapore government has “no plans” currently to grant additional casino licences when the exclusivity period on the current two licences expires in 2017, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan told the city-state’s parliament on Monday, according to local newspaper the Straits Times.
The government would instead focus on working with the two existing licensees to ensure their attractions and services continue to enhance the country’s tourism appeal, he added.
Singapore has two casino resorts: Resorts World Sentosa, operated by Genting Singapore Plc, and Marina Bay Sands (pictured), operated by Las Vegas Sands Corp. The government announced a 10-year hiatus on any new casino licences in 2007, after it granted permits to the existing operators.
Since then the government had not issued official comment on the subject. But the possibility of more gaming licences after 2017 remained a “potential risk” for the existing casino operators, Fitch Ratings Inc said in a report in October.
The rating agency said the Singapore market remained “very attractive to new entrants” despite the potential for more regional competition.
According to a report by Morningstar Inc, issued on April 16, Genting Singapore has a 30-year casino licence that will expire in 2036.
On Monday, Mr Lee did not disclose if the government had received requests from other casino operators to issue more licences after the current duopoly period officially expires in 2017. The minister told parliament that the two casino resorts have contributed annually between 1.5 percent and 2 percent of Singapore’s gross domestic product, and created more than 20,000 jobs, the Straits Times reported.
Mr Lee noted that neighbouring jurisdictions including the Philippines and South Korea, have approved development of new casino resorts.
“This is the international competitive landscape in terms of major cities improving their tourism attractions…we have to take [this] into consideration as and when we consider the next steps,” he was quoted saying.
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"If the [Macau casino] concessions are put up for bid, there will also be a lot of giant Chinese companies, some having nothing to do with gaming, which would like to take over these enormously successful casinos”
Professor emeritus at Whittier Law School in California, in the United States, and a visiting professor at University of Macau